The Importance of IoT Data Collection

Written by Sarah Geiger
iot data

The Quantified Economy is here

Analysts agree that IoT is expected to grow tremendously over the next decade and it will impact every industry. We believe this astronomical growth is driven as a result of immediate positive business impact delivered from a new generation of inexpensive sensors; scalable and secure cloud infrastructure; and advanced analytics. The global addressable market for IoT is estimated to top $1.3 trillion by 2019, creating new business opportunities and making organizations smarter about their products to help them provide better customer service. We consider this opportunity the Quantified Economy.

According to Gartner, “43% of organizations are using or plan to implement IoT this year,” meaning companies understand the benefits and importance of IoT, and are making a positive step forward to adopt the technology. There are a few early industry adopters like fleet management organizations, oil, utilities, gas, and manufacturing that are overturning their operational infrastructure to focus on cost savings, enhanced utilization of assets and overall efficiencies.

Due to potential gains in energy efficiency and conservation, government and municipalities in major cities are also taking advantage of connected devices by hooking up smart meters to building management systems. You can connect your device through inexpensive sensors, that provide important data from many sources. For example, a building manager can track real-time energy or water usage by visualizing the data in a dashboard. By simply seeing the usage in real-time and comparing it month over month, utility costs can go down 5-7%. Beyond that, these same systems provide over the air and automated control of building management system components.

But before you focus on IoT data collection, there are a few steps to take to understand the value you can derive from the data.

How to determine what data is valuable to your organization

Companies understand there’s a massive influx of unstructured data available from devices. However, it’s not just about data management, businesses need to seriously consider what data is valuable and set the appropriate data model to support analytics.

Are you familiar with the experience your customers go through using your product or service? How often are they using the device? When was did they last use the device? Keep it simple and focused on how can this data help you uncover the customer journey and improve their experience. By starting to understand usage (frequency, time of use, location), you can infer and begin to influence usage patterns.

If you’re trying to figure out how to use IoT data for your business, here’s a breakdown of how you can start the conversation with your IT team or CIO/CTO:

  1. Get clear on your objectives.
  2. Connect with your internal team and discuss openly what you know about your customers to date and identify what gaps or insights you’re trying to retrieve from your data. What information will help you understand your customers’ usage of the device?
    1. Do you need real-time information for critical decisions OR historic trending and periodic reports?
    2. What industry are you in? Who are your customers?
      1. Are you a smart car manufacturer and need to monitor fuel levels, tire pressure, driver behavior or engine functions to notify the driver when a potential issue is coming up?
      2. Are you a farmer who needs to track assets like shipments of produce or forecast yields through sensors that gauge temperature and rainfall?
  3. Understanding the data points will help you develop an appropriate data model that will act as the filter for the data. It is one thing to store all of the unstructured data and just simply manage it, but another to review the information the data is providing and finding an actionable way to process and connect to an analytics platform for insights.
  4. Once you identify the data that needs to be collected, the next step is to connect your data and visualize it. You will need to confirm how the data will be collected, processed and integrated into a business system like Optimizely, Tableau, Salesforce, etc. Integration is key. The data that you collect is only as valuable as the tools used to make it actionable, visual and insightful. Finding the right tool can be challenging, so make sure the analytics platform understands your industry data, offers a wide range of features (visualization, security, broad filters) and meets your budget.
  5. Once you have an understanding of what you want your data to provide, you can then assemble a strategy to outline all of your stack options from hardware, iOS, platform and dashboard. Gartner provides a great breakdown on how to put an IoT strategy in place.
  6. Don’t try to boil the ocean immediately. Potential is nearly limitless due to advanced functionality and mountains of data. But start small and get quick/early wins. Build on those in subsequent phases of work. This space is evolving so rapidly that you are likely to discover additional capabilities as you move through your process.

IoT data collection and processing can be complex and we are only at the forefront of mass proliferation of the technology. But keep it simple by understanding the data your device can generate, find a cloud platform to collect the data, integrate it through your business, analyze it to detect trends or patterns, and use the insights to improve operational efficiencies or services.

Learn more about connecting your IoT devices

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