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Microsoft: Making Latent Data Valuable through Stacks of IoT

Internet of Things
Author: Mark
Friday, August 1, 2014
5:21 am

This morning, an interesting blog post, “What is the ‘Internet of Things’ and where does Microsoft sit?” by Ewan Dalton, Microsoft Evangelist, came to my attention. I was particularly intrigued by two concepts Ewan stressed:  

The first – an overriding emphasis on data:

The secret sauce, the Holy Grail, the raison d’être for Internet of Things is data. That much is pretty obvious to anyone with more than a passing interest in the field – why would you go to the bother of deploying a load of sensing devices and the infrastructure to manage and communicate with them, unless the data they provide is particularly interesting?

In particular, the potential for IoT to accumulate “latent data” and create value is emphasized:

To a large degree, the IoT is an emerging set of technologies, protocols and patterns for the collection, aggregation, analysis and actioning of intrinsic, latent data, and the management of this process.

Data is ubiquitous and inherent in all environments, be it an outside space, an ecosystem, a manufacturing complex, a supply chain or a city. This data can be regarded as “latent data” or “potential data” in the physical world – the data exists but is not accessible, or if it is accessible then it is of limited use since it is not combined with other, relevant data (such as historical readings, or data from complementary systems). …

We believe that IoT is fundamentally about bringing this latent, intrinsic data into the digital world, in a way that allows the creation of value. This value is due to the aggregation of collected data, its analysis, and the use of that insight to drive decision-making and actions.  

The second interesting concept? Identification of “Stacks of IoT” with these characteristics:

  • Abstraction at multiple levels
  • Multi-vendor approach
  • Big compute done in the cloud
  • Real-time/small compute near the device endpoint or sensor network

The stack components?

  • Sensors
  • Hub devices
  • Comms
  • Cloud

The following diagram illustrates these concepts:


I think this multi-stack architecture is useful to think about how data is gathered and acted upon to create value. The stacks of IoT can be thought of as a sort of “value chain” for making data useful. Some of that value is created near to the sensors (think intelligent thermostat).  More value can be created at a local hub (e.g. coordination of multiple components in a home heating system for maximum energy efficiency).  Still  more value can created in connecting multiple homes through a network for data accumulation and utility-wide balancing of energy usage.

So, as I interpret Microsoft’s view, IoT is all about capturing latent data and making it valuable.  I like that perspective.

Copyright © 2014, Mark G. Dixon. All Rights Reserved.
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