How to Make the Most of IoT Data
Guest Post by Paul Steel, IoT Application and Architecture Specialist in the AT&T Internet of Things Organization
These days, articles discussing Internet of Things (IoT) and either the security or the surplus of edge devices that are smaller and cheaper than the most recent one announced are dominating tech news. What seems to be less talked about is IoT data and the how and what to do with everything coming off the edge.
Let me be clear, both security and the edge device are important and we will discuss them in a future post. The questions we’re addressing are how will data transform your business and what to do with all that data coming off the edge.
The Value of IoT Data
So why is IoT data so important? The answer is two-fold: “Start now or be consumed” and “Don’t be a hoarder.”
Start Now or Be Consumed
I think everyone would agree, we are still close to the beginning of IoT and we are already talking about petabytes of data coming off the edge. For clarification, when I refer to “the edge,” I’m referring to the hardware or software on the asset you are tracking or monitoring. For example, I have hardware on a tractor that is monitoring engine temperature, speed, and location. The hardware would be considered “the edge,” the beginning of the transmission of data.
Data should be viewed as the lifeblood of the current state and future direction of some companies. How should those companies use data when approaching customer satisfaction and pivotal changes? First and foremost, a company should be planning for storage of that data and ease of accessibility (yes, I’m talking about the cloud). IoT cloud storage provides the greatest flexibility, overall cost, and global reach versus housing that data locally.
As the industry starts to move towards the Internet of Everything, that data will start to grow and companies run the risk of getting consumed as this adds a new layer to the amount of data companies are retrieving.
Don’t Be a Hoarder
Another way to combat this influx of data is to answer the hardest (as my co-worker John would say) question: “Why do you need all that data?” Let’s take fleet tracking as an example, if I want to verify my drivers are within speed ranges, do I have to track everything? If all you are interested in is when the drivers are starting to reach a certain threshold consider only tracking speed and location when certain parameters are met. For example, the truck has kept to a speed under 50 mph, but when that truck reaches 56 mph I will start logging speed and location until the truck speed comes back down to 50 mph. Now, I have valuable information that is logged and can be used as hard data for that driver’s performance review. While this is a very rudimentary example, you can extrapolate this to other IoT solutions or projects. In this way, you’re only getting the data you need, making it more usable. Refer to the image of AT&T Flow Designer to see how I selected the data to be placed into M2X Data Service.
When looking at the assets in your IoT deployment, it is also important to ask, “How do I decide what information to collect?” This question is highly dependent on what you are trying to accomplish with your IoT strategy. In the truck speed example, all I want to collect is the time, location, and speed of that truck while it was above 56 mph. Here’s another example: Let’s say I want to see trends in vending machine product sales during the summer. In that case, I would collect all the data off of my vending machines between June and September and use my analytics engine. Again, these examples are very basic, but it should get you thinking about how this IoT data should be working for you and your company.
Why M2X Is So Important
Having that dedicated long-term cloud-based storage is the first step to answering the question “What to do with all that IoT data?” When evaluating your IoT strategy, remember these items:
- Does your organization have an IoT data storage plan?
- Is that data available via the cloud?
- Of the data coming off the edge, what data do I care about and is it necessary to store everything?
- Is the stored data easily accessible to run through an analytics engine or connect to other systems?
Once you answer those questions take a look at AT&T’s M2X Data Service, a cloud-based fully managed time-series data storage service for network connected machine-to-machine (M2M) devices and industrial IoT. From trucks and turbines to vending machines and freight containers, M2X enables the devices that power your business to connect and share valuable data. AT&T M2X also gives access to that time series data via web services so that you are able to run that data through your corporate analytics engine.
With the other components of AT&T IoT Services, you also have the flexibility to decide on what data is stored and available in M2X. This gives you the benefit of having analytics running against the most valuable data coming off your assets as well as the value of the amount of storage needed.
Get more information on AT&T’s IoT Services. If you have any questions about IoT data or what people should think about when deploying a solution, please leave them in the comments below.