The Nature of Data is Changing

We hear about the Internet of Things (IoT) every day and the ubiquitous way it weaves itself into our lives. Businesses, governments, and consumers around the world are all impacted by the IoT and looking to harness its benefits to the same ultimate goal — to improve the quality of life. IDC predicts that by 2020, Asia will be on the frontline of IoT with over 8.6 billion connected devices in the region. What does this mean for policymakers, business leaders, and laypersons?

At a recent Seagate-sponsored panel discussion in Singapore, we invited industry leaders to discuss the evolution of smart data, and how it is shifting from being a business background function to a life-critical component for society. Here are some of our guest panelists’ insights:

The IoT is uncharted territory for everyone

Successful implementation of IoT is invisible to the end user; it is the point where technology weaves itself into the fabric of everyday life. This means a decrease in the number of end points held by human beings and an increase in the number of machine-driven data sources or edge devices that generate and transfer data. While this shift seems to be inevitable, it has raised several areas of concern including:

Businesses are fundamentally looking to improve operational efficiencies and provide better quality customer experiences with the IoT. Brands like Mastercard have adapted their business models — from person-to-merchant transactions to merchant-to-device, and device-to-device transactions — to accommodate the growing pervasiveness of IoT in everyday life.

Investments have been made to ensure that there is seamless communication within the ecosystem on both the business process and consumer interaction. In order to provide customers with a frictionless experience that removes the need for multiple logins and passwords, the brand works with its customers to create a single sign-on login and authentication method to connect multiple devices and ensure safe transfer of data and payment.

Data analytics is at the heart of the IoT

The effectiveness of the IoT hinges heavily on the availability of data analytics — it is this component that helps governments and businesses derive value from all the data that is collected.

In Singapore, one of the focus areas within the government’s Smart Nation initiative is centered on the development and use of autonomous vehicles. The Institute for Infocomm Research (I²R) which is part of the Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A*Star) focuses on designing and fabricating autonomous vehicles for pilot testing and roll-out in the country. In the Smart City of the future, these vehicles could support private and public transport by ferrying people around safely and efficiently without using extra manpower. But the technology needed to make it happen is complex. A driverless car needs a wide range of intelligent sensors to collect different forms of data, process this in real time, and then link it back with the traffic network and other cars to navigate safely and efficiently.

There are thousands of sensors across Singapore’s urban infrastructure, which requires data analytics capabilities to make sense of the information. Sensors in Singapore’s transport system already provide real-time updates on traffic conditions such as areas of congestion, carpark availability and alerts on approaching vehicles. This helps to facilitate traffic flow and improve road safety. The broad adoption of in-vehicle connectivity, either through the mobile phone or through an embedded system and screen, is opening up possibilities. Eventually, vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications could be used to further reduce accidents.

We need to figure out where all that data we’re creating is going to live

The industry has generally talked about a data explosion some years back, but that was a largely user-driven phenomenon when mobile devices enabled consumers to become content developers and generators. Today, IoT-enabled edge devices are a key driver of growth for data volumes. Devices come with limited data storage capacity, which means that the data they generate needs to be offloaded elsewhere for storage and analytics.

While not all the data that is collected from users and devices will need to be analyzed, data-center builders and cloud service providers should look at what new and creative storage solutions are required by businesses and governments in order to address concerns of cost, storage locality and security.

The IoT isn’t new, but it’s becoming critical and is here to stay

The concept of IoT has been discussed since as early as the 1960s, but with the cost of sensors, connectivity and compute significantly reduced, we are now able to deploy new projects and solutions at a faster pace. Today, the IoT is no longer an optional choice for businesses. Service quality, experience, timeliness and responsiveness to customers have become competitive differentiators that determine the survival of organizations. The role of the IoT is to help consumers and businesses simplify data, generate value and democratize access to information, commerce and services for everyone.

Watch the video below for a few highlights from the Seagate IoT panel discussion held in Singapore earlier this year.

Guest panelists:

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