What IoT Means To Analytics


We are lucky to be living in a world where everything is supposed to be smart. I live in a smart home, I know the time with a smart watch, I talk and manage my life on a smart phone, my car is a smart car and soon my city would be a smart city. The sea of these smart devices talking to each other and to the cloud everywhere constitute what is termed as IOT. With so much of supposed smartness going around, there is a need to understand the holistic view of these smart devices together instead of looking at them as each single device and using their data to enrich our lives. The analysis of combined data generated by these devices, if properly interpreted, could be much more than just the sum of their individual analysis. Hence, the need for IOT analytics. The need to study this data together, as it happens, in near real time, to know what happened and why it happened so that it could be predicted that what might happen and corrective actions be taken automatically, if needed.

The importance of context in analytics

Analytics is a statistical and mathematical tool to study data. Any insights generated by analytics can be only as intelligent as the data which it works on. There are multiple ways to do analytics. The classical way is to hypothesize a pattern model, collect data to prove that trend and then observe how that trend behaves in the future. Similar models could be made for anomalies too. Newer approach with analytics however does not work on hypothesis. Multiple data sources are collated and associative analysis is done to mine out hidden relationships which cannot be seen by naked eye or thought of before-hand. This leads to new hidden insights in data which were otherwise impossible to gain with classical methods. As we gather multiple data sources, what comes to light is the context of the trend or the anomaly. As an example, if we look at a five day data of a telecom provider, a surge in SMS usage on its own just tells us that it is an anomaly. When we club it with a date, we could get to know that this is because of a festive occasion or as we club it with historical data, we might find out that it is a fraudulent pattern or as we just gather more data, we might find out that it is just a periodic anomaly which comes every month and hence not an anomaly at all.

Role of micro-location in IOT and in assigning context

IOT devices gather huge volumes of sensory data. From devices which control the fans and lights in your home to smart sensors reading temperature in a milk delivery van, all of them send data to a central location which then performs analysis on it. One key element which is critical along with the sensor value is location. In today’s world, where mobility is key for every use case, it is imperative that any data which we collect is geo-tagged. In other words, location needs to a dimension in every data point. In open air spaces and vehicles, thanks to the common GPS trackers, it is very easy to get the location. However, as sensors get deployed in indoor locations such as homes, warehouses and so on, it is likely that specialized micro-location algorithms are needed to get precise location of the sensor and geo-tag the data with it. There are companies which are dedicatedly working on such solutions and there is some fabulous research going on in this area.

Closing the loop with action systems

While it is always good to know the anomalies and trends in some data, what is more crucial is to take action on those trends or anomalies. As analytics becomes more common place and small start-ups and individuals use it to their benefit, it is not possible for them to have a team of dedicated business analysts who could keep looking at the data in real time and taking appropriate actions. Hence, there is a need to create systems which take the output of analytics system as their input, take appropriate actions and hence automate the optimisation of the system. As analytics gets better, such action systems become a part of analytics system and the end consumers get one automated self-optimising system. With the advent of Artificial Intelligence, it becomes more imperative that we moves towards a world with such self-optimising systems. After all, we are looking forward to the day when Skynet takes over!

Author: Abhishek Singh            Source: CXOToday
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Kalyan Banga224 Posts

I am Kalyan Banga, a Post Graduate in Business Analytics from Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Calcutta, a premier management institute, ranked best B-School in Asia in FT Masters management global rankings. I have spent 14 years in field of Research & Analytics.


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