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IoT in 2021 – Capitalising on your Data

The Internet of Things (IoT) continues to transform businesses as developing technology presents benefits to every vertical. From a business standpoint, there are two major forces at play right now. IoT adoption is leading to an increase in data volumes, while advancements in the likes of 5G is leading to increasing network speeds that can now handle the rise in data volumes.

We are finding that customers are wanting to collect incremental data, but also drive insights from data much faster. We are seeing customers focusing more and more on how they gather, manage and reach insights with their data – and how they can do this in real time.

IoT and real time analytics offers enterprises the chance to empower customer experiences, create new business channels or acquire new partner ecosystems. To drive true value from IoT and the wealth of data being generated, businesses need help to understand how to best collect, curate, analyse and act on IoT data from the edge to inside the enterprise.

The power and struggles of IoT

According to Machina Research global market forecasts, by the end of 2024 more than 24.9 billion connections will be established, resulting in more data about monitored devices and equipment as well as the overall environment in which they exist.

This data is a gateway to better understanding customer and client behaviours, staying up to date with equipment and infrastructure, redefining supply and demand, responding to changing needs and supporting or developing key use cases.

However, as data points increase, the sheer volume, variety and velocity in which the data is collected requires businesses to have more storage, processing power and analytics capabilities. In addition, as businesses adopt more technology tools, implement cloud services and maintain legacy software, solutions that don’t cater to hybrid and multi-cloud setups can lead to ongoing issues and inefficiencies.

Immediate insights with edge computing

One great potential of IoT is the speed with which companies can gain insights from data. In certain use cases, businesses want to generate actionable insights immediately, and any kind of delay is detrimental.

Edge computing allows businesses to process and store data at the edge of the network, versus in a cloud environment. In this instance, companies can capture data at the source, process it and gain insights right away. This can be coupled with automation and machine learning to bring rapid and valuable knowledge to businesses in real-time.

However, this is not without its challenges.As 5G and sensor technology advances, and data volumes grow, it’s crucial to consider price, infrastructure, limitations and performance. For instance, cloud is often a natural extension to edge and IoT data from a compute and storage perspective, but round trips can be very costly due to the bandwidth required to do it well. Customers need to have the right platform to support their infrastructure and know where to process and store data to get the most cost effective and fastest result, while also maintaining security.

Maximising value with a data platform

In the past, organisations have relied on data making its way into a data warehouse or data lake before meaningful analysis and analytics can occur. In addition, some companies have adopted separate tools for driving insights for streaming data.

However, the disadvantage with this is it creates yet another silo and new problems in figuring out how to integrate components. One solution is to utilise a platform that provides ingestion, transformation, query and predictive analytics capabilities that can be accessed by a single pane of glass and supports different cloud environments and edge computing.

The right platform will be able to capture and process data locally or move it to the cloud, depending on what makes the most sense. For instance, you can deploy hundreds or up to thousands of ‘edge agents’ to edge devices to manage them from one single location and streamline operations. The right partner will enable you to collect and process streaming data so you can react immediately to events, analyse data for future research and optimise processes to avoid common challenges.

In addition, it’s important to have the ability to track data, provenance and lineage, and manage and monitor the applications themselves. Ultimately, the goal is to manage and curate the data flow to turn unstructured data into actionable insights.

The importance of any cloud

On-premises infrastructure can lack the elasticity to accommodate spikes in data workloads, and this can slow down a business’s ability to drive understanding at the desired rate. However, today it’s also very likely that an organisation utilises multiple cloud vendors and runs operations via a combination of public and private cloud, data centre and legacy systems.

Using a hybrid cloud infrastructure in an intelligent way ensures businesses have scalability and flexibility with data storage and analytics. If you consider top tier banks, government agencies, telecommunications and mining organisations, for instance, data flow technology that utilises hybrid cloud environments becomes a very important and empowering aspect of a data strategy.

Businesses seeking to speed up operations and actively utilise captured and streaming data need to find a partner that specialises in enterprise data cloud. Key functions to consider is that the offering is multi-functional, secure and governed, open without any vendor lock-in, and works on any cloud – including on-premises, private cloud, data centre, the edge and public clouds such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Azure.

IoT is relevant for every vertical

The healthcare industry can utilise IoT, big data and machine learning to power research, develop new treatments and improve existing ones. Government agencies can develop energy efficient infrastructure and build smarter cities. Retailers can improve omnichannel experiences as online shopping and customer expectations continue to change. The automotive industry can advance autonomous car technology and user experience, and insurers can better understand and manage risk.

It’s safe to say that the power of IoT isn’t relegated to one industry. In fact, it has a place in every organisation undergoing digital transformation or looking to advance operations, and the right partner can help teams to maximise these benefits.

Nick Hoskins

Country Manager, Australia and New Zealand, Cloudera.