Some fads are nothing more than vendor and consultant attempts to capitalize on an idea and to sell unneeded goods and services. Then there is the Internet of Things (IoT), which is gaining attention and relevancy because of what it will allow, and the demands it has already begun to place on business intelligence and data analysis.
To talk about IoT – the drive to embed electronics into many kinds of products and devices and then pump data out for collection and analysis – start with the once lowly electrical meter. Not so long ago, utilities had to send people out to read the meters at buildings, write down the number, and bring it back to the office for billing. Next came meters that connected to a phone line to report readings. Today, the move is toward smart meters that can transmit information over the Internet. One estimate sees more than 900 million in use globally by the end of 2020.
The new meters will provide more than a single reading. Streams of data will help drive intelligent electrical grids to provide better service while reducing unnecessary power generation. The concept is already in use in jet plane engines and phones and will extend to automobiles, household refrigerators, and virtually any type of product or mechanism you can imagine.
But there are some complications. Not only will IoT require even more investment in Internet infrastructure, but there will be mountains of data to analyze. Massive amounts of information arriving in real time will require inventive techniques for processing and analysis. Most currently used software was never designed for such scale of work. Similarly, organizations will need specially designed computing platforms, likely using in-memory computing to speed work and provide the scalability and low-latency needed to handle the information as it arrives.
With the changes in data volume and computing platforms, BI and data analysis experts will have to adapt. There will be new techniques and tools to learn and, just as importantly, novel methods and business processes to set up. When oceans of data come roaring in all at once, it will take some ingenuity, innovation, and strong communication to understand what managers need most and then pick out the relevant data in real time.
Make no mistake, the coming shifts in BI will be unlike anything professionals have experienced before. Now is the time to learn new tools and technologies, follow current research, and prepare for the future. Those who do will find even more career opportunity.
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