The past year has seen a huge growth in the number of companies taking up the “big data” mantle and alongside this has also come a rush of excitement towards the Internet of Things (IoT). A recent survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit: The Internet of Things business index: A quiet revolution gathers pace (sponsored by ARM) reported that 75% of executives stated that they had initiated Internet of Things (IoT) projects within their companies.
However, with all the excitement, it seems everyone is failing to ask an extremely crucial question: “is having access to such a huge amount of data and technology always a positive thing?”
Most people would immediately answer “yes!” However, what many fail to take into account is the fact that just having access to all this data and technology doesn’t necessarily mean a) that you can use it all or that b) you know how to make the most of it all.
Most companies, when adopting big data analytics and IoT projects will, unfortunately not ever fully capitalise on the benefits and this is because they simply become inundated with too much data. Companies quite literally become flooded with analytics and insights that could influence everything from their products to the couriers and franking machines they use in the office and then, of course to huge amounts of customer data.
Where do you start?
Instead of welcoming everything and anything that IoT and big data can give you, you should instead focus on going smaller. It is better to try and look at data and connected devices in terms of how they can help you solve specific problems. In this way you identify problems beforehand and it is easier to apply a strategy and see how big data and IoT can actually help, instead of having it but not being able to use it.
With 1 billion IoT devices estimated to be shipped this year (Deloitte), companies should be looking at IoT and how connected devices can help their businesses run faster and smarter. However, it is important to note that this does not always mean investing in brand new devices; often the solution will be sitting idle in the office, already embedded with the intelligence that is needed.
For companies looking to advance and improve their businesses using big data and IoT, it is important to take note of the following points:
1. Only connect when you absolutely must!
Just because everyone else is doing something does not mean that your company should be. Likewise just because most devices and objects can now be connected to Wi-Fi or 3G/4G or embedded with the latest new type of unique gadgetry does not mean that is has to be.
At the forefront of your mind, you should always be thinking about keeping your business secure and the simple truth is, the more you open your business up to the online world, the less secure it is. This is even more prevalent when dealing with objects that are remotely controlled.
2. Try not to get caught up in the hype
Companies would do well to take note of how great a hype there was (and to an extent, still is) around big data. So many businesses got caught up in the idea of having access to so much data that they soon found themselves swamped in information they didn’t understand and therefore could not use.
When you don’t have a proper plan in place, the situation and scope of such projects can grow too fast and become too much to handle, thus stalling what you wanted to achieve in the first place. Focus on what you actually want to achieve and only use and implement IoT when you can specifically see how it is going to help. When it comes to IoT implementation, think small and approach problems with direct intent.
3. Don’t lose sight of the end goal
There is no denying that big data is of huge help to businesses and IoT will also be of great help, however, without a filter (and a proper strategy), both can become meaningless. You need to make sure that you have an end goal; something you want to improve or achieve. You also need to decide how this will be measured; only then should you start implementing your big data and IoT strategies.
Companies need to use big data: to help them drive their businesses forward; to understand their customers; to improve their products and services; and much more. Big data should not be used in isolation. In this way, IoT is the perfect accompaniment.
However, there is simply too much in this world for a company to try to take on the “Internet of Everything”. Companies need to limit their egos and focus instead on implementing a “Network of Some Things”. These things should be intentionally chosen and decisively deployed only then will your company be able to make the absolute most of big data and the IoT.
Just keep telling yourself to filter where you can!