Most Industry analysts agree that there will be a dramatic increase in the number and nature of ‘connected devices’ over the next 3-5 years. These are predicted to run into tens of billions and include communication-enabled consumer devices, machines that move around (vehicles), things that don’t (vending machines, street furniture) and a myriad of sensors, cameras and other intelligent devices.
And you know where there are things that are measuring stuff there will be data; enormous amounts of data; and people and systems wanting to integrate this data and analyse it.
But this isn’t exactly new; we’ve seen analysis of Barcode data in Retail environments, RFID chips in Logistics and Network Switch data in the Telco industry for a number of decades.
But what is new to many business areas is the ‘Internet of things’ where devices are connected directly to the internet. And again this is something that has been possible for many years but what has changed now is the implementation of the next generation of internet addressing. Although potentially cataclysmic the news that we’ve run out of IP addresses; those strings of numbers that are responsible for identifying computers and devices so they can communicate; has stirred little to no excitement. But hold-fast, all is not lost, the next generation of internet addressing IPv6 expands the number of network address bits from 32 bits (in IPv4) to 128 bits, which provides more than enough globally unique IP addresses for every networked device on the planet. The unlimited address space provided by IPv6 will allow connection of multiple internet-enabled mobile devices for every person on the planet along with Billions of embedded sensors, home and industrial appliances and Smart grids.
So where will be the winners and losers in this scenario? Well I think it has already kicked off with the Telco OSS/BSS integration train finally getting underway. Yes, the integration of Network data along with Business data. Already we are seeing new forms of analytics such as Reality mining which is the collection, amalgamation and analysis of machine created data, such as GPS data from a Mobile Telco network, along with human social behavior data with the goal of identifying predictable patterns of behavior and Sentiment analysis trying to gain insight from web generated social media feeds.
Getting at this data is becoming increasingly achievable especially as the Big Data evolution lets us handle new unstructured and formerly un-analyzed data sources.
One of the potential winners will definitely be the Telcos as location based and mobile data will be one of the key sources in future. Also the need for these billions of sensors to communicate in real time necessitates new strategies for the Telcos.
But where there is data there is also the need to manage and protect the content. So do I really want my location details along with information on my energy consumption, when I last took specific medication (yes, this is a potential application!) and even the use-by date of the milk in my fridge, readily available!
So it’s one step at a time. Already Informatica is helping its Telco customers in utilizing network information for planning and customer service analysis and the extraction and parsing of data from weblogs and social media feeds.
Just remember that in the very near future the data sources we will be using won’t be dominated by operational and transaction systems but rather location and sensor based data and Informatica will be there managing this complex process.