Running the rule over the Internet of Data
December 2015 | FEATURE | RISK MANAGEMENT
Financier Worldwide Magazine
Whilst the Internet of Things (IoT) is a now a familiar concept for many, less well-known is one of its progeny – the Internet of Data (IoD) – and the myriad issues it presents.
First among these issues is the sheer volume of data generated by an ever increasing network of connected devices that collect and exchange information, and then, the opportunities this creates for business and, less welcomingly, for criminal skulduggery.
Clearly, the wide range of opportunities thrown up by IoD are ripe for harvesting, estimated as having a dollar value in the trillions with industries such as insurance, retail and healthcare particularly keen. But, as data volumes expand exponentially, the big question is whether the positives outweigh the negatives.
Managing a sea of data
With IoT technology advancing whilst costs decline, more and more data will be generated from a multitude of sources – data that can provide competitive advantage to organisations, informing innovation, targeting marketing and streamlining operations. “The data generated from connected devices provides the opportunity to gain valuable business insight and more effectively and efficiently manage operations,” says Mike Hitmar, senior manufacturing industry adviser at SAS. “The velocity at which data is created and potential volumes collected will quickly overwhelm traditional collect-store-analyse processes. IoD requires thinking differently by moving the analytics closer to the data source to detect patterns of interest early, then only transmit and store the most valuable data.”
However, much of this data, as Dr Paul Terry, president and CEO of PHEMI points out, is sensitive or confidential – prime fodder for criminal enterprise. “Organisations aiming to leverage data often need to meet industry-specific privacy and governance regulations, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in healthcare and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) in retail,” explains Dr Terry. “If you are going to collect data, you must take responsibility for it. To gain benefits from IoD, you must first address challenges around protecting privacy, while extracting maximum value.”
Data: useful or useless?
As an ever-growing mass of data continues to envelop our everyday lives, the obvious question to ask is where does the data actually go? And, more abstractly, how much of it is actually useful? “All data is useful, but a crucial question organisations need to ask as part of the IoD journey is what is noise and what is relevant to their business challenge?” suggests Mr Hitmar. “Most devices on the edge emit a mammoth amount of data, but that does not mean all the data is meaningful. A ‘multi-phase analytics’ system involves a combination of analytics at the edge – near a sensor or monitor, for example – and at the centre of a network to extract relevant insights, then the operationalising of the analytic models created to refresh the cycle.”
For Oleg Logvinov, chair of the Architectural Framework for IoT Working Group at the IEEE, there is no simple answer to the question of where data should be processed, analysed and stored. This issue is certainly complex, and experts are already considering various scenarios. “A video camera monitoring a hallway is capable of sending a raw video stream, but would anyone want to pay for constant use of bandwidth and monitoring services for video that would still require analysis? Instead, it would be sensible to ‘teach’ the camera to extract meaningful analytics and only transmit video associated with these events, thus limiting bandwidth and central monitoring services used,” says Mr Logvinov.
Whether the future of IoD leans more toward the positive than the negative is of course yet to be determined, but certainly opportunities, in whatever form, are there to be taken.” There are many areas where IoD can benefit society,” proffers Dr Terry. “One important area is healthcare. If the industry can store and manage data, while protecting privacy, the door opens for a whole new vista of collaboration – among medical institutions, research organisations and government agencies – that will enable new solutions that improve diagnosis, treatments and overall wellness.” Extrapolating further, as other industries become increasingly data-driven, Dr Terry foresees the practices tested in the stringent environment of healthcare being rolled out to the likes of the financial services, public, oil & gas and telecommunications sectors.
According to Mr Hitmar, outside of commercial opportunities, the biggest impact will come from imagining service differentiators that make the most of the IoD business paradigm. “For example, a global truck manufacturer uses telematics data to predict breakdowns. After successfully solving the breakdown challenge, engineers found they could more precisely target trucks for a recall campaign based on usage profiles. This created savings for the manufacturer and less inconvenience for the customer,” he says.
The opportunities created by IoD, as yet hardly understood, have the potential to be infinite. Going forward, what does seem certain is that gifted and creative entrepreneurs will utilise advances in MEMS, microcontrollers and communication technologies to foster new IoD opportunities that will hopefully make the world a healthier and more informed place.
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