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Tony Shan

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IoT and Big Data

40 billion devices are predicted to be on the Internet by 2020. The data volume in the world is projected to reach 40 Zettabytes in 2020. Internet of Things and Big Data will fundamentally change the world in the next few years. To understand why, let's clarify what IoT and Big Data are about.

In a nutshell, IoT is concerned with the network of physical entities with embedded technologies to sense, collect, communicate and interact with their internal states and/or the external environment. As an example of IoT, smart thermostats use sensors, real-time weather forecasts, and the actual activity in your home during the day to reduce your monthly energy usage by up to 30%.

Big Data is on the subject of extremely large data sets that may not be analyzed computationally via traditional methods to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially related to human behavior and interactions. An example of Big Data is the analysis of social media interactions to harvest and analyze social media activities, which can make sense of the chatter and provide real-time insights into how the market is responding to products and campaigns. With those insights, organizations can adjust their pricing, promotion, and campaign placement on the fly to achieve optimal results.

Now what is the relationship between IoT and Big Data?


Processing all of the data from the IoT is an exercise in big data. Various types and formats of data streams from different devices and sensors in IoT are handled and transformed by the "variety" of Big Data collection. The vast amount data influx from IoT are ingested and stored by the "volume" of Big Data loading. The near real-time processing and analysis of explosive data from IoT are performed in a timely manner by the "velocity" of Big Data analytics. In addition, the intelligence and insights of smart IoT objects are realized and augmented by the "value" of Big Data.

To a large extent, IoT and Big Data are two sides of the same coin. Big data becomes the foundational enablers for IoT, providing the building blocks for IoT to operate. On the other hand, IoT becomes the source and channel of massive data, events and signals, and in turn leverages the Big Data to interact, collaborate and correlate with each other to generate tangible results and impacts on consumers, enterprises and the society. They are complimentary when IoT meets Big Data.

A good example of IoT and Big Data working together is the MagicBand by Disney World's $1B investment - a wearable, sensor-laden, wristband that vacationers use to do everything: check into their hotel rooms, buy their meals, go through the turnstiles at the amusement parks, and reserve a spot for specific attractions. Wearers utilize the band to 'check in' at certain posts by tapping it against a receiver, and it tracks their movement via RFID, so Disney can collect data on visitor movement throughout the park. The collected data enables Disney to accommodate more guests, staff rides and attractions better, and regulate inventory at highly-trafficked shops and restaurants more properly.

We have a panel formed by the industry thought leaders and pioneers to discuss this topic in the upcoming IEEE Big Data Congress in June. Please come and join us to explore deeper.

For more information, please contact Tony Shan (blog@tonyshan.com). ©Tony Shan. All rights reserved.

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Tony Shan works as a senior consultant, advisor at a global applications and infrastructure solutions firm helping clients realize the greatest value from their IT. Shan is a renowned thought leader and technology visionary with a number of years of field experience and guru-level expertise on cloud computing, Big Data, Hadoop, NoSQL, social, mobile, SOA, BI, technology strategy, IT roadmapping, systems design, architecture engineering, portfolio rationalization, product development, asset management, strategic planning, process standardization, and Web 2.0. He has directed the lifecycle R&D and buildout of large-scale award-winning distributed systems on diverse platforms in Fortune 100 companies and public sector like IBM, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Cisco, Honeywell, Abbott, etc.

Shan is an inventive expert with a proven track record of influential innovations such as Cloud Engineering. He has authored dozens of top-notch technical papers on next-generation technologies and over ten books that won multiple awards. He is a frequent keynote speaker and Chair/Panel/Advisor/Judge/Organizing Committee in prominent conferences/workshops, an editor/editorial advisory board member of IT research journals/books, and a founder of several user groups, forums, and centers of excellence (CoE).