The Internet of Things, which entails the use of physical and virtual sensors, can inform executives and other decision makers about an assortment of sensory-related information.
These insights can range from potential physical irregularities with operating equipment (as detected by changes in vibration patterns or other physical anomalies that can be detected in real-time) to sudden shifts in customer sentiment.
The types of data generated by the Internet of Things can be coupled with data analysis and data discovery tools and techniques to help business leaders identify emerging developments such as machines that might need maintenance to prevent costly breakdowns or sudden shifts in customer or market conditions that might signal some action a company should take.
Some have described the Internet of Things as a global, digital nervous system that enables information that’s disseminated by computers, mobile phones, sensors, social media channels, and other sources to be used for a variety of measurements and analysis.
A terrific, real-world example that demonstrates how data that’s generated by the Internet of Things can be blended with analytics to drive impressive business performance gains involves Union Pacific Railroad. The railroad is using sensor and analytics technologies to predict and prevent train derailments, according to this article.
For example, the company has placed infrared sensors on every 20 miles of its tracks to gather 20 million temperature readings of train wheels each day to look for signs of overheating, which is a sign of impending failure. Meanwhile, trackside microphones are used to pick up “growling” bearings in the wheels.
Data from such physical measurements are sent via fiber optic lines to Union Pacific’s data centers.
Complex pattern-matching algorithms and analytics are used to identify irregularities, allowing Union Pacific experts to determine within minutes of capturing the data whether a driver should pull a train over for inspection or reduce its speed until it reaches the next station to be repaired.
Since it began applying data analytics to the Internet of Things, Union Pacific has been able to reduce bearing-related derailments by 75%. These types of improvements not only save money, they also save lives.
The amount of data being generated globally continues to expand exponentially. The growth in the use of personal mobile devices, along with the increase in machine-generated data, has contributed to the doubling of data in the digital universe to 2.8 zettabytes (a zettabyte is equivalent to 1 billion terabytes), according to a study by IDC.
Meanwhile, IDC projects that the digital universe will expand to 40 zettabytes by 2020. Yet, just 0.5% of the world’s data is being analyzed today, according to related research from IDC.
With new types of data being created by a growing number of human and machine-based sources, there are tremendous untapped opportunities for using analytics to learn, identify, and act on emerging trends and developments in business, healthcare, and society.
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