The Internet of Things and the evolving role of big data analytics in the insight economy

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Big Data Evangelist, IBM

The Internet of Things (IoT) is on track to become the most diverse, widespread and pervasive global network of all. Someday, IoT endpoints will not be restricted to consumer, business, governmental and scientific uses but will span all arenas of human endeavor. Indeed, in the insight economy, the Internet of Things is poised to become the biggest big data analytics cloud by far. But although big data is integral to the Internet of Things, it is far from being the only piece of the IoT fabric.

In particular, the Internet of Things is central to the notion of a smarter planet. In the coming global order, every human artifact and every element of the natural world—even every physical person—could be networked. Everything will be capable of being instrumented, given data-driven intelligence and perpetually interconnected to drive all desired human outcomes. For more on that exciting possibility, don’t miss what Mark Simmonds has to say about how the Internet of Things and big data intersect with digital business.

Creating a globally unified resource

Essentially, the Internet of Things is a radically distributed “fog” of increasingly nano-level endpoints at which live sensors, storage, computation and actuators, among other such resources. Fundamentally, the Internet of Things will atomize big data analytics in massively parallel fashion across myriad things, executing high-volume log analysis from end to end and relying heavily on cognitive computing algorithms to make sense of it all. The Internet of Things will allow IT professionals to achieve operational economies of scale by deploying storage-, compute- and memory-intensive IoT analytics functions (that is, data collection, integration, aggregation, modeling and distribution) to endpoint nodes, where such functions can be cost-effectively handled.

Big data analytics will drive the Internet of Things sensor grid as a unified resource into every conceivable application, ushering in a new era of connected cars, smart homes and 24/7 mobile commerce. In particular, cognitive computing capabilities—such as IBM Watson—will become the ubiquitous brain within the IoT fog. But all this will require deepening clouds of machine learning, deep learning, graph analysis, stream computing and other statistical algorithms to find patterns in real time and drive intended outcomes.

Entering the Cognitive Era the Internet of Things to intelligently drive next best actions in mobile and other applications, cognitive computing fabrics need to consider the full geospatial and temporal context for all events. In this new cognitive era, mobile devices that collect sensor readings are also feeding real-time information, context and guidance to users. As mobility becomes the default mode for every aspect of life, the Internet of Things will become an organic extension of biological sensation and locomotion.

For example, take a look at IoT analytics initiatives by industry, among them IBM’s partnership with Nokia to develop the world’s first mobile edge computing platform able to run applications directly within a mobile base station. The IBM and Nokia fog platform accelerates delivery of media-rich, low-latency services to smartphones by ensuring that content is transmitted from base stations rather than from a remote media center. And the usefulness of big data fog computing doesn’t stop there; rather, it extends to mobile gaming, augmented reality, smarter traffic, public safety and beyond.

With the advent of IoT fog computing, big data will grow by an order of magnitude. Aggregate data volumes across the IoT fog will balloon into the exabyte range, and real-time data streaming velocities will connect every point to every other point, all while data types and formats reach previously unimagined levels of heterogeneity. Most important, advanced analytics will evolve into distributed fogs of deep-learning cogs operating on event logs that span a seemingly infinite array of things.

Register to attend Insight 2015, held in Las Vegas from October 26 to 29, to learn more about the new era of IoT-powered digital business that will drive the insight economy.