This blog is derived from the content that will be presented at the SAP for Utilities conference on September 14, 2015. Since the presentation is divided into three main headings, we will divide the content into three blogs starting with the good.
The good is based on technology advancements that we have seen over the last few years, including:
- The Internet of Things (IoT)
- Big Data
What is the Internet of Things (IoT)? In this acronym, a “Thing“ can be a person, an animal, an automobile or any other “thing” that can be assigned an IP address and has the ability to transfer data over a network. The Auto-ID Center at MIT highlighted the potential of the IoT. In their findings, they said “If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things – using data they gathered without any help from us – we would be able to track and count everything and greatly reduce waste, loss, and cost.”
In an article in Forbes (8/17) Bernard Marr listed three ways that the IoT will change businesses. He said it would:
- Allow companies to make smarter products
- Enable smarter business operations and smarter decisions
- Changes in their business model
How does the IoT accomplish this? This question leads us to “Big Data”? Big Data is a broad term that is used to identify large or complex data sets that cannot be processed by traditional tools. Big Data can also refer to advanced methods that can be used to extract value from data. This value can be in the form of increased operational efficiency, cost reductions (increased value), and reduced risk.
This is the value in “Big Data”- it can be used to gain intelligence and translate that into actions that will provide a company increased business advantage. A study by a team from MIT’s Center for Digital Business found that companies that were in the top third of their industry in the use of data driven decision making were 5% more productive and 6% more profitable than their competitors.
With all of this data being sent from all of these sensors, the amount of data is going to be “Big”, so how do we use it? This is where visualization comes in. Visualization refers to the way a message can be communicated. It may take the form of images, diagrams, or animations. So imagine a company collecting all of this data, from all of the sensors throughout their plants, displaying in such a way that it is actionable. Dashboards and real time process diagrams are but two examples.
So it can be seen that the IoT can provide almost limitless “Big Data”, which, when it is interpreted or processed can be transformed into information. This information, when audited against a rules engine and “visualized” can be transformed into knowledge. This allows the true value of all of the “Big Data” from the IoT to be realized.
While this is an interesting overview of the direction of where companies are headed, how does the “Good” overcome the “Bad”? This will be the topic of the next blog.