Harnessing IoT Data to Transform Connected Products
We are set to witness a technological invasion by the year 2020. The number of Internet-connected devices will explode and over 20 Billion devices in the world will be constantly collecting and harnessing IoT data at any given instance.
This is motivating companies to rethink the way in which they plan to use this data for strategic reasons.
But IoT is useful only when one can make sense out of the data that has been collected.
As Frank Muller of the EY Group puts it,
“Companies are failing to realize the full potential of the internet of things because they are capturing huge volumes of data without considering what it is for.”
This is where Data Analytics comes into the picture.
In order to make the implementation of IoT a success for corporations, it is imperative that it is actively integrated with Data Analytics.
Data Analytics can be essentially thought of as the process of evaluating large datasets to reach actionable conclusions.
This often looks like a scene from the conference room of a large organization where data is present in the form of pie charts, graphs, tables and patterns that aid the decision-making process of upper management.
Multiple benefits can be extended to machines through IoT and Data Analytics capabilities like the ones provided by the use of Big Data.
For starters, manufacturers can track how their customers are interacting with their products, which features are the most sought after, and the most common settings that the customers are preferring.
This can help them create a roadmap to introduce new features in the future.
Companies can even go to the length of analyzing data to deploy Predictive Analysis and determine the instance when their products will require a refill, maintenance, or service.
To sum it up, benefits of IoT in Industries are mainly two-fold:
- Minimizing Downtime –
Any interruption in the supply chain of the products can create critical downtime errors that can cause companies a huge chunk of their revenues. IoT powered machines can continuously transmit data about their health, which in turn helps to maintain them.
- Optimizing Uptime –
Companies can make the most of the available resources can come up with an optimized schedule to utilize them to their full capacity, thus minimizing spillovers and maximizing uptime and efficiency.
Harnessing IoT Data
“In order to get value from the data that comes from IoT, you have to have analytics somewhere.”
– Frank Gillett, VP and Principal Analyst, Forrester
Let’s understand this through an example.
Think of a logistics company that helps its clients deliver their products throughout the country with an interconnected network of IoT powered vehicles.
These vehicles constantly keep a track of the routes that they are being driven upon, along with the frequency and other crucial metrics.
While it is important to collect this data, the data pool remains useless until it is harnessed through Data Analytics and key decision-making actionables are derived.
When data is harnessed and presented in a way that the management can absorb and understand it, they can take the required course of action like updating the delivery routes that involve shorter distances.
So how can data be collected and utilized in this manner?
IoT powered machines and appliances come powered with sensors that can capture significant data metrics like temperature, moisture, pressure, movement, etc.
This data is then communicated to the user in some form that he/she understand and can take action upon.
Harnessing data and analytics through IoT can help your business in 3 basic ways:
- Descriptive Analysis: This is a method of analyzing data in a way that it enables the management to take a comprehensive look a the ‘What’ of things. Both past and present performances are analyzed in this method and reasons for these performances are charted out.
- Predictive Analysis: As the names suggests, Predictive Analysis helps companies to predict future of the market by anticipating key scenarios that are likely to occur. Strategic plans are accordingly jotted down and a roadmap for future products or features is developed by the management as the predictions aid the decision-making process.
- Prescriptive Analysis: It is a combination of Descriptive and Predictive analysis. Based on the collected data and its analysis, a range of suggested actions is suggested by the process based on the goals of the users. Hence, better conclusions can be drawn and reached.
Instances of IoT and Data Harnessing
Let’s take a look at some real-world use cases of IoT and how data harnessing is helping these companies overhaul their strategic decision-making process as well as day-to-day operations:
- Nest Smart Thermostat
One of the most popular IoT driven devices, Nest is a smart thermostat for your home that is connected to the Internet. What makes it unique is that it learns the most favored settings of your family over time and automatically adjusts the temperature on the basis of whether you’re at home or away, awake or asleep, and so on. This helps users to cut down on their electricity bills by increasing the efficiency.
- Philips Hue Smart Bulb
Philips has introduced a new range of light bulbs that have been powered by IoT capabilities and Data Analytics. For starters, the bulb can be changed to any color that you want. They can turn on and off based on a predefined scheduled via the mobile application and can also sync seamlessly with the music that you play. After the success of Philips, other major manufacturers like Lumin and Belkin are also experimenting with their own versions of the smart technology.
- August Smart Lock
A popular entry in the domain of home security, smart lock from August is changing the way you handle locks. The smart lock automatically unlocks when you get home and locks behind you when you leave the house for some work or chore. You can even share guest access to the house if you want someone to be able to access it temporarily.
- Healthpatch Health Monitor
This is one smart device that serves a greater purpose – monitoring your health 24/7. Healthcare providers are using it to access key readings about the health of their patients including the ECG, heart rate, respiratory rate, fall detection, body posture, body temperature, and more.
This data is collected and effectively analyzed to predict details like the occurrence of emergencies and health problems even before they arrive! Hence, the most active course of treatments for the patients can be charted even when they are sitting far apart.
- Automatic Smart Driving Assistant
While IoT powered devices are commonly being produced for homes today, there is no dearth of useful devices outside the house. Automatic is one such adapter that plugs into your car and saves data about key insights like the number of hours driven, average speed, mileage registered, fuel efficiency, ignition status, etc. The accompanying mobile application then gives you details about how to improve upon your driving.
Different Ways to Harness Data
IoT powered devices churn out huge amounts of data on an ongoing basis. Based on the ways in which the data needs to be utilized, here are the different ways in which it can be harnessed:
- Streaming Analytics
Also referred to as Event Stream processing, Steaming Analytics helps to analyze data sets that have been a result of in-motion devices. Typical devices that involve this type of analytics can be IoT powered car accessories (like the example of Automatic mentioned above), and health bands that track the daily activities of the users.
Real-time data stream are collected in such devices and the data is then analyzed by this method. This can help to know about any underlying urgent situations and the immediate actions that need to be taken as a result.
Other common applications that make use of this type of Analytics is applications around financial transactions, air fleet tracking, traffic analyses etc.
- Spatial Analysis
As the name gives it away, this important type of data analytics is related to spaces. Geographical patterns are analyzed under this and the relationship arising due to the spatial distance between physical objects is analyzed.
As you might have guessed, location-based and IoT powered applications can make use of this, including smart parking applications.
- Time Series Analysis
This type of Analytics is based on time-based data which is analyzed on the basis of some principles to unveil associated trends and patterns in the data. Hence, multiple data-sets at different time slots are considered before reaching the conclusion.
Applications like weather-based services and health monitoring systems like the Heathpatch Health monitor product mentioned above make use of this type of analytics.
Advantages of Harnessing Data
It is one thing to collect data. But it is a whole other story to make use of this data for the benefit of the corporation.
Let’s look at the various advantages that data harnessing adds to the picture.
- Faster Decision-Making
Instant and real-time decisions can be taken, even automatically, through harnessing the right data at the right time. It may be critical in some cases to take well-informed and instantaneous decisions.
For example, the heartbeat pattern of a patient that is using a health tracking device may indicate the possibility of a heart attack. An automatic distress call can be sent out in such a scenario through active decision-making as a result of data harnessing.
- Competitive Edge
The ability to collect and make sense of a large pool of data will provide your business with wings that your competitors can only dream of.
As a result, your services and products become better versions of themselves, and your customer retention takes a significant boom.
- Booming Revenues
Since Data analytics coupled with IoT will provide your business with the right customer insights and preferences, you immediately know what is working and what is not.
With increased awareness about the likes and dislikes of your customers, you can now easily focus on developing products and services that are more in-tune with the demands and expectations of your customers.
This, in turn, will make your revenues reach unprecedented heights!
- Ability to handle varying data sets
Datasets can be of three major types – unstructured, semi-structured, and structured. Additionally, there can also be stark differences in the data formats and types.
Whatever be the case, with a reliable Data Analytics system in place, your business will always make sense of all these varying types of data by making use of automated tools and software.
- Volume and selective processing
A large volume of data can be processed within no time, also increasing the efficiency of the insights that derived as a result.
Moreover, not all data is valuable.It is better to isolate obsolete and mundane data from the useful ones for richer analytical details.
This also means that by discarding useless data, you are effectively saving on the storage and processing costs which would have otherwise brought down your revenues!
- Remote Monitoring
You no longer need to be in the vicinity of your machines and products to monitor them. Resources can now be monitored remotely and actions can be taken on the basis of the data.
For example, healthcare providers can closely monitor devices such as insulin pumps or the health of the patient via subcutaneous vital sign sensors.
Hence, as it is evident, harnessing data through Analytics adds to the ease of doing business for corporations.
The Internet of Things and the accompanying Data Analytics capabilities are set to grow at a tremendous rate in the coming years.
There is and will always be a huge potential to explore in this field, and businesses should get into it while they still can.
Whether it is about optimizing internal operation, improving the quality of products, or predicting future requirements, the right data and harnessing capability has something in store for everyone.
Your thoughts? Are you leveraging IoT data yet?