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Understanding the Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data
Staff Writer

The information age is characterized by rapid technological change and digital transformation across industry verticals. During the 1990s, the World Wide Web became publicly available for the first time and saw widespread adoption and innovation with technology companies leading the way as the world's largest businesses created their earliest websites. The following decade beginning in the year 2000 was characterized by the growing proliferation of mobile phones, along with mobile apps, mobile marketing, and mobile commerce - businesses needed to re-think their marketing and communications strategy to reach customers on the new mobile platform. In the 2010s, innovations like cloud computing and the spread of AI technology allowed companies to access cost-effective computing power and data storage on demand, making it easier and cheaper to develop new software applications.

As we round the corner into another decade, you might find yourself asking "What's next? What will be the next technological revolution and how can I prepare for it?" If you follow the latest trends in digital tech, you'll conclude (as we have) that the next decade of development in connected technologies will be centered around the Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data.

In this blog post, we're breaking down the massive industry trends towards IoT and Big Data. These technologies are not always discussed together, but as we'll show, they go hand-in-hand for organizations who are trying to reduce costs and enhance organizational efficiency through digital transformation.

Foundations of IoT and Big Data

Before we dig into the relationship between IoT and Big Data, let's understand each of these trends separately and the growing role they play in how companies across industry verticals are organizing their operations.

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

The IoT is the next logical step in the evolution of internet technology.

In the 1960s, the first internet project known as ARPANET used packet switching to facilitate communications between multiple computers on a single network. In the 1970s, the TCP/IP protocol was created, setting the standard for how communications could be sent and received between networks. The internet did not exist as the World Wide Web until the early 1990s, when a computer scientist known today as Sir Tim Berners-Lee created formatting standards (HTML) and access standards (HTTP) that anyone could use to build their own website and make it publicly available.

Since the early 1990s, the basic structure of the internet as a network-of-networks has remained the same. What has changed the most about the internet is the devices that use it. At the beginning, these were just desktop computers. Later, wireless technology meant that more people accessed the internet using laptops and mobile phones, and later on tablets and other handheld devices.

This brings us to the IoT, a system of mechanical and digital machines, objects, and devices that contain embedded computers with two special characteristics: they have their own unique identifier and they can send and receive data over a network without direct interference from a human. The IoT creates a new paradigm where any device can act as a network endpoint that is capable of receiving operational instructions or transmitting sensor data about its environment through a network.

cloud connected to other technological icons Image by jeferrb from Pixabay

Organizations are adopting the IoT and deploying IoT-enabled devices at blinding speed. The total number of installed connected/IoT devices grew from 15.41 billion in 2015 to 26.66 billion in 2019 - that's three connected devices for every single person on Earth. The total number of IoT devices in deployment is expected to reach 75.44 billion by 2025.

What is Big Data?

The concept of big data was first introduced in the early 2000s by industry analyst Doug Laney who recognized that humans were generating and storing data at an increasing rate, and that this data might have some practical benefits if appropriately leveraged. The difference between "regular data" and "big data" can be described in terms of the three V's: volume, velocity, and variety.

Volume. Individuals and organizations living in the information age produce large amounts of data, but as that overall volume has increased, so too has the accessibility of data storage and computing resources to store and process it. A single connected/IoT device can generate a huge volume of data on its own and a single organization might have hundreds or thousands of these devices to track and monitor at a given time. Velocity. Velocity is a measure of how quickly data is generated and processed. In the past, data was collected slowly and processed slowly. Today's IoT devices generate data on a nearly constant basis, enabling the real-time availability of big data that reflects current operational trends. The velocity of big data is an important component of its overall value - frequent data generation and rapid processing means that organizations can react more quickly to circumstances identified through the use of data. Variety. Variety is all about the types of data that are being tracked and transmitted. In the context of IoT-enabled devices, there are temperature sensors, humidity sensors, pressure and proximity sensors, accelerometers, gyroscopes and other sensory instrumentation that can measure the environment and pass data back through the network to a central processing hub.

In 2016, humans were already generating data at a rate of 44 billion gigabytes per day. By 2025, global data generation is expected to reach 463 billion gigabytes per day - a ten-fold increase in just about a decade.

The Connection Between IoT and Big Data

By now, you should be convinced that the IoT and Big Data will be the most important technologies of the next decade - now let's explore how they're related.

How Does Big Data Impact IoT?

The relationship between IoT and Big Data processing will continue to grow over the next decade, as people and organizations generate increasingly large data sets from a growing network of IoT devices. Devices connected to the IoT will act as a major data source for big data processing, enabling new technologies, products and services, and giving organizations unprecedented insight and visibility into their processes and operations.

As organizations generate and capture increasingly large data sets from the IoT, the next challenge will be to process that data efficiently, extract insights from the data and present those insights to a human operator in a readable format. Data aggregation tools that collect and standardize data from the IoT will be coupled with artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms designed to discover patterns and trends in the data through predictive analytics. The merger of artificial intelligence and IoT technologies along with big data will deliver major benefits to organizations capable of supporting the necessary IT infrastructure.

Real-Time Data

Real-time data insights and analytics could be described as the "end goal" when combining IoT, Big Data, and machine learning technologies. IoT devices act as a data source, capturing data from sensors and feeding it through a network to a centralized processing hub.

Big data analytics software tools will then comb through the data in real time, using the latest computing technology to parse through millions of data points faster than a human analyst ever could. Machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms will be used to discover trends in the data, generate alerts, and communicate insights to a human operator through a user interface.

How Does IoT and Big Data Impact Companies and the Future?

Businesses today already understand the competitive advantage that comes with access to real-time operational, security, and business analytics. Over the next five years, IoT devices will increasingly provide the inputs for real-time big data analysis, giving organizations real-time feedback on the condition and performance of their assets. This technology will have implications in health care, manufacturing automation, transportation, and marketing, helping companies reduce their costs, eliminate waste, and operate more efficiently in an increasingly connected world.

Total Phase: Tools for IoT Developers

Are you ready to build the future?

For embedded systems developers working on IoT devices, Total Phase offers a range of hardware and software products to help you create, program, test, and debug IoT devices. From host adapters to protocol analyzers including APIs, we've got everything you need to start developing your own commercial or proprietary IoT devices.

Ready to learn more? Contact our sales team for more information on how we can help you take advantage of the IoT and Big Data.