The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of interconnected devices—whether stationary or mobile— that is equipped with the necessary hardware and software for network connectivity, which in turn allows them to collect and exchange data. These interconnected devices can both be detected and controlled remotely, making IoT a valuable tool for analytics and automation in nearly all fields, resulting in improved efficiency and accuracy.
Arguably the most important facets of IoT are data sharing and data integration. These two features use machine-to-machine communication to ensure that users, business owners, or stakeholders have access to the latest and most relevant data, which can then be turned to actionable information.
With the rise of the Internet of Things, the integration of data from various or disparate sources becomes all the important. Here are some of the sectors that are currently taking advantage of data integration.
Retail, Commerce and Logistics
The simplest way to see the benefits of IoT in retail is by looking at how data integration in working to optimize customer experience. For instance, there’s inventory tracking across multiple branches to ensure that fresh stocks are always available, and there’s also facilitating online commerce through multiple and hassle-free electronic payment options. Indeed, data integration is critical in ensuring a seamless flow from the zero moment of truth to the moment of purchase.
IoT is also valuable in capturing and analyzing data about customer behavior, including browsing habits and purchase triggers, which can help in the development of more optimized marketing campaigns and promotions.
Meanwhile, logistics companies can also benefit from continuous data integration through more optimized delivery processes, even as their customers are able to track their incoming packages. This is an added benefit to online sellers as well, as they partner with courier services to deliver purchases made online.
Banks deal with huge volumes of data that change by the minute, sometimes even seconds, every day. This is especially true with the advent of mobile and internet banking, with applications allowing the transfer and receipt of money worldwide in just a few swipes and taps. There is also the integration of electronic payments in online stores as more and more people choose to go cashless. Using a log-based change data capture system, bankers can be more confident that their ever-changing data is not only secure, but also backed up appropriately and can be reviewed as needed. This is critically important when it comes to detecting and addressing fraud.
With IoT and information communications technology, the concept of “smart cities” is now more popular than ever. Key cities around the world like New York, Stockholm, Ontario, Taipei, Mitaka, and Singapore are already using data integration to provide more efficient services through effective asset management.
Among the most practical applications of data integration in smart cities is in law enforcement and traffic management. For example, data gathered from a criminal “hot-spot” that’s in constant observation can be used to aid the police in stopping crime. Meanwhile, something as simple as traffic lights’ stop-and-go cycle can help immensely in managing both vehicles and pedestrians, especially during rush hours. Sensors can even be installed in major thoroughfares to gather data on road damage, helping city engineers in scheduling maintenance works that would not heavily impact traffic flow.
Data integration can also make public services like emergency response, social security, healthcare, and education more effective, especially when relevant and related departments need to work in synergy.
Data integration can help with the predictive maintenance of manufacturing equipment, which can help with productivity and efficiency. Worker safety and security can also be improved with data integration, especially those who consistently handle equipment that deals with heavy weights, hazardous chemicals, and extreme heat, among others.
Manufacturing operations, including machine performance optimization and human-machine interactions, may also be improved with data integration. Apart from the actual equipment, data can also be gathered from working environments and even individual steps in each manufacturing stage. This results into a more natural integration of physical and information workflows, which in turn results into a more efficient manufacturing process.
Experts predict that by 2020, there will be more than 30 billion objects in the IoT. Coupled with the almost-constant development of new techniques and technologies to gather and use data, it’s no wonder that IoT is being applied in more than just the information and communications industry.