The IoT is about insight, not things: Microsoft

CommunicAsia Show Daily

The Internet of Things is arguably at the peak of the hype cycle, but while much of the discussion is focused on the “things” themselves or the networks required to connect them, the real value of the IoT will come from the cloud and data analytics behind the scenes. 

“The big idea of IoT is that capturing data from devices is cool, but If you’re just collecting data, it’s just telematics,” said Darren Hubert, chief architect of Microsoft Services APAC, during the morning plenary of the CommunicAsia2016 Summit on Thursday. “The real promise of IoT is how you tie that data together with insight and intelligent action.” 

Hubert pointed out that technically, we’ve been connecting ‘things’ for years for M2M apps like utility grid sensors and fleet tracking. And while we’re now connecting more and more things with more sophisticated apps (think FitBit and connected cars, for example), the real change is what’s happening behind the scenes. 

“What the IoT is really about now is large complex data flows, which is enabling new types of insight and business opportunities that previously weren’t available,” Hubert said. “The cloud is the enabler of these new scenarios we talk about.  The cloud stores and processes data, the data provides insight, and the insight leads to intelligent action.” 

Hubert covered a range of IoT scenarios Microsoft is actually working on, including a connected glass that knows what you’re drinking and displays nutritional information retrieved from the cloud, and a connected toilet paper holder that lets you know when you’re running low. 

Hubert also highlighted real-world examples of IoT apps, including elevators that leverage predictive analytics to anticipate when they need repairs, and a location-based audio navigation guide for visually impaired people that warns of oncoming obstacles and provides information such as street names and nearby shops and restaurants.

Hubert offered a tentative strategy for companies to get started with IoT. “First, connect the devices you already have rather than procure new firmware, just because it’s easier. Second, utilize services to jump-start your efforts - learn from it, fail fast and move on. Third: combine the data you’re collecting already. Get that data out of whatever silos you have and move it to cloud storage. And then use that data to generate new insights and perspectives.” 

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