You Think Big Data is Big? This is Nothing Compared to What’s Ahead

Data is daunting; in volume, variation and velocity.

When it comes to magnitude, big data does really mean big. If big data is what we have today, then an exponential explosion of epic proportions is coming.  What’s ahead may make our current digital explosion look like a mere blip on the screen.

In what is called the Internet of Things (aka the Internet of Everything), our physical world is becoming a living, breathing, dynamic information system.  As more and more physical items become embedded with chips and sensors, we will be able to generate, track and utilize data from everything to everywhere.   Today’s neural network creates global connectivity through wired and wireless nodes.  These nodes will connect machine-to-machine and machine-to-infrastructure data points to create the Internet of Things.

While widespread global adoption of the Internet of Things will take some time, that timeframe is shrinking as technology advancements enable faster and faster adoption rates.  New capabilities and applications are emerging as first-adopter industries are using technology to create a better – and smarter – world.

Transformations Afoot

On a macro-level, here’s a snapshot of the large-scale transformations:

                                 From                                             To

Human to machine                   Machine to machine + Machine to infrastructure

Smart devices                            Data-driven ecosystems

Static infrastructure                 Dynamic infrastructure

Reactive Repair                         Proactive Prevention

Getting Real

While it is difficult to imagine and predict all the possibilities that may emerge from this future of connected things, here are a few examples that make it very real.

Scarce resources, such as water and power, can be proactively managed to optimize usage patterns, minimize cost and maximize efficiency.  One example is greenfield data centers, which may be the data center of the future.  Half of a data center’s total lifetime cost is often tied to power consumption.  By using sensors to monitor each server’s energy usage, a detailed view of power consumption patterns is used to automatically balance loads, eliminate waste and shut down underutilized assets in a data center.

Predictive healthcare is becoming more of a reality.  By using microcameras and sensing devices, it is possible to identify root-cause locations of illness and prevent potentially catastrophic health events before they happen.  Sharing data points globally helps to create more accurate predictions and to raise the level of healthcare in all corners of the world.

In businesses, real-time, closed loop analytics can help to optimize both revenue and cost to generate stronger ROI.  For example, sensors which track in-store or on-line buyer behavior – including areas where more time is spent — can be used in real-time to provide customized content and offers which improve purchase rates.  Billboards that assess customer profiles and adjust content in real-time are currently a reality in Japan.

The Gotchas

Businesses that continue to rely on static information – for customer engagement, process optimization, automation, etc. – will face new challenges that will be increasingly difficult to navigate.  The adoption of dynamic, real-time value creation is essential.  When customer preferences are sensed in real-time and optimized for location, specific content/promotion and even pricing, then adopters will have significant competitive advantage over businesses that remain static.  Businesses that use closed-loop analytics to create improved manufacturing processes and to sense and predict when to employ preventive maintenance to reduce down times will create superior cost profiles and improved customer experiences.

Smarter, Better, Faster

As the Internet of Things becomes a future reality, IBM’s prediction of a Smarter Planet becomes more realistic.  By more responsibly using scarce resources, predicting natural disasters, preventing illness, raising levels of education and awareness to improving businesses, we can all powerfully benefit from this new frontier. 




  1. Hi Sandra –
    I saw the Chief “Future” officer (if I’m remembering correctly) from Cisco explain that the “Internet of Things” is just one of four aspects of the Internet of Everything, fyi. The Internet of Everything includes:
    and Things… and that’s what really gets IBM’s Smart Planet a reality.
    more here:
    Have you read Kurzweil’s book – - The Singularity is Near? It feels we’re getting frighteningly close to that

Speak Your Mind