Smart devices enable Big Data to deliver value

The Internet of Things transforms Big Data into a visible value chain across critical business operations

Tags: Big dataInternet of ThingsZebra Technologies Europe Ltd
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Smart devices enable Big Data to deliver value Smart, interconnected systems will drive better decision making,says Kajaria.
By  Pratik Kajaria Published  May 9, 2014

The ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT), enabled by technologies and connected devices, is changing the way we use information and offers the possibility of a Visible Value Chain, in which physical assets, people and transactions are turned into digital information and create a clearly visible picture of the location, condition, timing and accuracy of an organisation’s operations, from multiple devices including mobile devices.

Enterprises are increasingly looking at the advent of Big Data as a vast mine to gain deeper, more actionable insights into their operations and processes, and to do more with less. The richness of Big Data is more than just the volume of data, but also the velocity and value of the data.

Before organisations can place this data into actionable form, it must be universally accessible throughout the value chain. The Internet of Things (IoT) contributes to the stream of data that organisations will store and mine by enabling interconnectivity of Internet-aware devices. This ecosystem of connectivity helps provide enterprises with deep visibility into their organisations’ operational events, accessible through the Cloud, anytime, anywhere and in-between. With the focus on better and more actionable business analytics, interest in IoT solutions is rapidly gaining momentum, especially when they are Cloud-ready and accessible across the enterprise and beyond.

While IoT is gaining momentum, executive-level decision makers must prepare to address the technology and service implications of deploying IoT solutions. In doing so, enterprises face several obstacles. First, IT complexity is often a barrier to success and requires a method to connect sensors and actuators to the Cloud in a standard, uniform way. Device management is often cumbersome and often the task requires proprietary tools. Last, connecting legacy devices — the backbone of most organisations — presents unique challenges.

Businesses for the past 15 years have been adopting a wide range of smart device technologies to improve visibility into processes and operations. The vast majority of these devices include barcodes, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), Global Positioning System (GPS), and environmental sensors. More recently, Real-Time Locating Systems (RTLS) have also joined the IoT mix for monitoring and communicating the status and movement of physical assets to mitigate business problems.

IoT-enabled devices are becoming a key method for providing “right now” visibility into supply chains, distribution centres, land and seaports, and for helping to secure facilities, indoor and outdoor. These devices are also prevalent in very tight process-driven tasks where instantaneous feedback and control are essential, including the energy sector. Businesses can use this deep visibility to eliminate inefficiencies in industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, transportation, energy, and retail.

IoT can help identify, locate, or measure the condition of assets, people, or transactions within a facility. For example, RFID and RTLS tags allow organisations to quickly track and locate high value items such as tools, large assemblies, and vehicles. Businesses can use this data to optimize processes, reduce shrinkage, and provide better security and safety throughout the workplace. Deep visibility into mission critical operations provides the measureable metrics enabling the enterprise to make better-informed decisions and inspire innovation.

For an IoT initiative to be successful, accurate, current business data and supply chain events must be visible both internally and through the Cloud. Visibility across operations, supply chains, and business partners enables streamlined processes and operations that can help drive better customer service and loyalty. Tighter processes can mean faster inventory turns, reducing the need for on-hand inventory. Eliminating waste and improving asset tracking can boost product quality while reducing OPEX and CAPEX.

In the Middle East for example, the healthcare industry is heavily regulated and as it moves to further digitization, it is facing major hurdles in the drive to improve patient safety, enhance worker efficiency, and rein in costs.

Electronic Health Records (EHRs) adoption paves the way for maintaining detailed, accurate, and life-long individual patient records. In addition, medical facilities leverage RFID tags to achieve 100% asset visibility, which helps reduce theft, optimise response times, and improve correct asset utilisation by medical staff.

Healthcare staff increasingly use the data generated from barcodes on patient wristbands, medications, laboratory orders/results and other diagnostic tests in various hospital departments to positively verify patient identity. Ensuring the right medication dose to the right patient at the right time requires verifiable visibility and precise accuracy. With the right IoT solution, healthcare professionals can integrate with EHR systems, minimising medication and laboratory errors, while maximising patient safety and improving the quality of care.

A recent survey reported that 85% of respondents agreed that smart interconnected devices provide the necessary visibility to drive more effective, timely business decisions and improve customer interactions.

When it comes to operations across all industries and organisational sizes, systems that are mission critical and mission ready are what help move your enterprise forward. Meeting that objective calls for an IoT ecosystem that serves your unique business needs and works with all classes of wireless and wired devices. The IoT ecosystem must connect to the cloud seamlessly, securely — anytime, anywhere and in-between. It should support applications for all tasks, on all devices, and reduce, not increase, complexity. It should also drive innovation by allowing developers to connect to the system and create their own applications, in total freedom and independence.

Pratik Kajaria is territory manager, Middle East, Zebra Technologies Europe.

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