The Next Big 'Big Data' Challenge

Slide Show

The Business Impact of Big Data

Many business executives want more information than ever, even though they're already drowning in it.

Twine doesn't look like much. It's shorter than a pencil and looks like a square of sky-blue glass or maybe a translucent bar of soap.


Its marketing tagline is simple: "Listen to your world, talk to the Internet." And therein lies the problem, because despite its unassuming appearance, devices like Twine, with their endless chatter to the Internet, will likely constitute the next big challenge in data integration and management.


Created by two graduates of the MIT Media Lab, the tiny Wi-Fi gadget includes a number of sensors - temperature, accelerometer for vibrations - with plans to add more sensors, including a moisture sensor to detect dampness. You set the conditions - the basement is wet, the dryer has stopped - and Twine sends a message - to email, to Twitter, to wherever you choose using the Spool Web app - whenever those conditions are met.


Twine is still in the fundraising stages - its production is being crowdsourced - but it's exactly the type of gadget that will create the "Internet of Things" - devices that are embedded with sensors to detect and send via Web services.


By the end of this decade, with conservative estimates at more than 50 billion devices, these sensor-laden gadgets will outnumber humans online, reports GigaOM.


From manufacturing to health care to - given Twine's pitch - your flooding basement, these devices will certainly redefine what we mean by "Big Data." And, of course, the data they create will need to be integrated into existing infrastructures.


"They will produce data that needs to be combined and analyzed alongside structured data, application logs, customer info and social media streams," GigaOM writes. "Already today, companies across multiple industries and government agencies are struggling to harness the sheer volume, complexity and variety of the data generated."


You only have to look as far as the utilities market to see how these devices are changing IT and business. Smart meters have been in use for some time, so now the trend is toward advanced metering infrastructures.


Utilities are looking at how they can integrate these smart grids to meter data management systems to validate meter readings and streamline the billing process, among other benefits. They're also looking at how these advanced metering infrastructures could be connected with outage management systems to detect power outages and help with restoring power.


If you'd like to learn more about machine data and this "Internet of Things," GigaOM Pro is hosting a free analyst roundtable webinar Wednesday, Dec. 7, at 10 a.m. PST (1 p.m. EST).


This isn't pie-in-the-sky stuff, judging by the list of topics to be covered, which includes how to integrate machine data with heterogeneous sources and databases, as well as how to identify the low-hanging fruit and where machine data will fit in with the rest of Big Data.

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