Billions of sensors making millions of outcomes

November 29, 2019 - Sara Philpott

IDC predict five years from now (by 2025), we will have 80 billion connected devices, producing 180 zettabytes of data. The value of this is dependent on being able to capture, analyse and use in real-time.

Stephen Zander from McKesson once said “If you can build something, I can build something six months later. If you can buy it, I can buy it. What you do with your information is absolutely what differentiates you from your competitors …”  In a 2010 white paper on how analytics was transforming the world of telecommunications, I wrote that “the more sophisticated the customer intelligence, the greater the opportunity to generate new revenue from exposed opportunities or to derive greater efficiencies. The key challenge for operators is the ability to extract, align and assess information from multiple sources. “ This holds true today – but in the last 10 years, what has changed?  

Many of the use cases discussed a decade ago relating to monetisation, cost efficiency and customer experience management are still very relevant today – but fundamentally the technology underpinning our digital world and applications has changed dramatically.  

Open source technology is now mainstream, cloud computing and software virtualisation have significantly enhanced storage and compute savings. Furthermore, deep learning has brought artificial intelligence and machine learning into the business benefit spotlight and microservices have become the de facto architecture for event driven architectures. The silos of services have broken down with ubiquitous connectivity as integrated multi-vendor architectures provide a unified platform for service provision. Correspondingly, we are experiencing a digital world supported by faster, more modular, more connected ecosystem which opens up the playground for unprecedented innovation. 

Without economic, functional or scaling concerns, service and utility providers, enterprises and IoT businesses can focus their attention on the business applications. So how does all this help our cities and daily lives become smarter?   The proliferation of sensors and IoT devices into all walks of life will be staggering. IDC predict five years from now (by 2025), we will have 80 billion connected devices, producing 180 zettabytes of data ! IDC inform us that we will have “billions of sensors making millions of outcomes”.  These sensors will be able to monitor electricity consumption in buildings, traffic movement in cities, water levels in rivers and drains, potholes across the country. Capturing and analysing this enormity of information from the sensors will generate massive operational cost savings and optimise performance of services and processes. Which all sounds pretty smart. 

In order to realise these use cases however, it will be necessary to harness the real-time state of these sensors, correlate it with reference and benchmark information to enable AI and virtual modeling to detect and predict pressure points to trigger remedial or performance enhancing action. This is the fun part. So akin to the key challenge identified 10 years ago, accessing and harnessing this abundance of data will be key to cities and our digital lifestyles becoming smart.

Sara Philpott will be speaking Enterprise Ireland Smart Cities Event: Smart City and IoT Forum event on 2nd & 3rd December in the Aviva Stadium.


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