When technical capabilities and company culture combine, IoT-fed data lakes become a powerful brain at the heart of the business
Internet-enabled devices have led to an explosion in the growth of data. On its own, this data has some value, however, the only way to unlock its full potential is by combining it with other data that businesses already hold.
Together, pre-existing data and newly-minted IoT data can provide a full picture of specific insights around a single consumer. It is paramount, however, that companies don’t prioritise innovation at the expense of ethics. Sourcing and analytics must be done correctly – with the right context that respects consumer privacy and wishes around data usage.
The insights gained from successfully blending these two different data sources also unlock secondary benefits including new product development, possible upsells or the ability to build customer goodwill through advice-driven service delivery.
It’s a winning combination, but the challenge is how to actually merge device data with regular customer information.
No easy fit
This problem arises from the fact that IoT device data is a different “shape” to data in traditional customer records.
If you think of a customer record in a sales database as one long row of information, IoT collected information is more like an entire column of time series information, with a supporting web of additional detail. Trying to directly join the two is near impossible, and it is likely that some valuable semantic information could end up lost in the process.
But if IoT information fundamentally resists structure, and existing business databases are built on rigid structures, how do you find an environment that works for both? The answer is a data lake.
A data lake is a more “fluid” approach to storing and connecting data. It is a central repository where data can be stored in the form it’s generated, whether that is in a relational database format or entirely unstructured. Analytics can then be applied over the top to connect different pieces of information and derive useful business insights.