Empowering Your Business with Data: How NB-IoT Can Play a Role
While there’s never been a better time for IoT solutions such as Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT), what is most important is how it fits into your data strategy.
Data is a business asset and needs to be managed accordingly. It’s not just a matter of collecting the data but how efficient and sustainable one can do so.
Meeting the big data challenge
Gartner defines big data as large volumes of data of greater variety arriving at high velocity. Managing that data comes with a degree of complexity, but harnessing it via data-driven strategies allows organisations to be more competitive.
On paper, the task is challenging. According to IDC, the global datasphere will increase to a massive 175 zettabytes of storage by 2025.
Of that figure, 90 zettabytes will come from IoT devices. Considering one zettabyte equals a trillion gigabytes, businesses will need to consider how ready they are for this age of big data.
Is it worth the effort? 65% of business executives from global brands say that leveraging big data helps them stay competitive.
It’s obvious that IoT is not some passing fad or just another industry buzzword but a reality of the changing business landscape.
Quantity – and quantity
To be able to leverage the potential of big data, the data needs to be complete, accurate and reliable.
NB-IoT offers a means to source critical data by deploying large amounts of operationally-efficient devices that are long-lasting and will be able to deliver quick, accurate readings.
Rather than deploy a lot of manpower to collect data, massive amounts of IoT devices can be monitored remotely across a wider area.
Unlike the old way of collecting data manually, this form of data gathering offers better accuracy and reliability. For instance, rather than rely on manual readings of temperatures in various locations, temperature sensors on devices can transmit readings in real-time. No waiting for reports; the data can be immediately viewed, allowing for better planning and quicker decision-making.
Insights that matter
With reliable data, businesses can then focus on using the time and expense saved from replacing manual data collection by concentrating on optimising the usage of big data applications.
The data can be used in machine learning as well as advanced analytics (predictive and prescriptive analytics) to advance businesses.
One case study showed how the city of Washington, D.C., saved US$800,000 in maintaining a public building by optimising its energy usage.
After collecting data that included a year’s worth of electric meter and natural gas data, plus data on weather, GIS mapping and other facets of the building, a proprietary algorithm was used to optimise the building’s energy usage. All this was done without site visits or significant resources.
Retailing giant Kroger credits loyalty and data-driven buying pattern analysis programs to optimise promotions, targeting loyal customers as well as managing product assortment. It also used its data to decrease average check-out wait times from four minutes to an impressive 30 seconds.
What both cases illustrate is that having the right data in amounts that make a difference can provide quantifiable returns.
Helping, not hurting the bottom line
NB-IoT devices do not need to be complex to perform their roles; neither do they need prohibitively expensive, high-bandwidth networks.
Besides the relatively lower cost of producing the devices, NB-IoT devices require lower maintenance costs. And low power consumption combined with low bandwidth usage translates to battery life that could extend years.
Some NB-IoT devices could achieve 10 years of battery life while transmitting small but intermittent amounts of data daily. NB-IoT also offers a higher quality of service (QoS) thanks to it being on a licensed spectrum. It is highly scalable, with support of up to 100,000 end devices per cellular site implementation compared to 50,000 with competing technologies such as Sigfox and LoRa.
All this is achieved without incurring high latency penalties across networks.
These advantages have spurred huge growth of NB-IoT in China. According to the GSMA, China is the world’s largest IoT market. It holds an estimated 64% of the world’s 1.5 billion global cellular connections.
In Jing’an district alone, there are 500,000 NB-IoT sensors covering over 37km. These sensors measure environmental data, fire hydrant water pressure, as well as gas and smoke detectors.
With China proving an evolving case study in the applications and benefits of NB-IoT, it is likely that other countries that are NB-IoT ready could follow in its footsteps. As public and private sectors embrace both IoT and big data, NB-IoT is proving to be a compelling choice.