When you think Big Data terms like analytics, business intelligence and insight easily flow into the discussion. Internet of Things (aka machine to machine) has recently been associated with Big Data and perhaps IoT is something that has immediate and real-world representations in the form of inventory control, baggage movement or fleet management.
According to Elwin Lim, vice president of solutions development at Fusionex, a big data analytics specialist firm, adoption of IoT and Big Data is growing. Applications of IoT covers a wide range of devices, sensors or machines which cuts across industries like manufacturing, retail, banking and others. With potentially millions of data feed sources from IoT, Big Data is the perfect solution to handle massive of influx data on real time basis to provide insights of patterns and intelligence.
He cites the example of a global manufacturing business as practical use case to illustrate the benefits of IoT and Big Data. Lim says this manufacturer has hundreds of expensive equipment installed on the production floors in Malaysia, Japan and the US. Sensors are used to gather instrument data which the company feeds into an analytics engine to study machine performance and predict when maintenance is due. By optimizing equipment performance the company is able to minimize downtime which in turn results in improved overall plant productivity.
At a logistics company, big data is used to support fleet management. “Real-time data collected from vehicles gives the company information including location, status and when vehicles are due for maintenance. When you consider hundreds or thousands of vehicles and in transit at any given point in time, big data is the best solution for tracking expensive assets at any given point in time. Prescriptive intelligence helps in preventive maintenance, security (with location and geo-fencing) and safety as well,” adds Lim.
Adoption of Big Data remains limited, albeit growing. According to Fusionex’s Edward Lim, regional director for Asia Pacific, the challenge comes applying the understanding of big data into real world operational applications. “Companies that are forward-looking and leaders in their industries have good understanding and technical capability to make use of Big Data to better understand their customers and to make quantum improvements on how they run their businesses,” he explains.
He adds that the hype of the past two years may actually have contributed to misconceptions around the technology. “For example, one misconception is that Big Data is only for big companies. The reality is that all companies – big, medium and small – can use Big Data to better understand and improve their businesses. Another misconception is that Big Data is all about technology. The truth is that Big Data is much more about the business than technology. Therefore it is critical that the business people get involved in Big Data initiatives and should be driven by the business – rather than IT,” he adds.
Unlocking the potential of Big Data is about harnessing the data that we generate daily creating a huge digital footprint in the virtual world. Nicholas Tan, Senior Manager, Solutions Development at Fusionex likens this to the 1999 film The Matrix in which machines ruled the world and data was constantly streaming from everywhere.
“Today whoever that can harness the powers of big data to capture, analyze and understand these digital foot prints will have the power to create tangible results through increasing business and sales right through to affecting each and every one of our lives one way or another. Behavioral and transactional patterns that everyone is generating can be collected and allow organizations to sell the RIGHT Product at the RIGHT TIME for the RIGHT PRICE to the RIGHT CONSUMER each and every time,” he explains.
You don’t need to go beyond the travel and hospitality industry to see how big data is being used to market promotional campaigns to potential customers at what appears to be just the right time. He also suggests looking more closely at ecommerce sites and how these appear to follow you and know what interests you by sending you promotional deals.
“Indeed retailers today can find out if you are visiting a competitor and to entice you to return to them before they lose yet another sale. All thanks to big data and analytics,” he concludes.