Monday, April 01, 2013

Advanced Mobile Strategies and Integrated Sensors

Last week I watched a presentation recorded at GigaOm Structure:Data conference featuring Gus Hunt, CTO of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  In his presentation, he identified SMAC (social, mobile, big data analytics, and cloud) as the culprit for the massive increase in available data in the world.  He explained that the average smartphone generates huge quantities of data from the following embedded sensors:
  • proximity sensors
  • 3-axis accelerometer sensors
  • touch sensors
  • image sensors
  • microphone sensors
  • light sensors
  • GPS (geo-location) sensors
You can imagine, with the billions of phones around the world, how much additional data is produced each day!  Now add the mass volumes coming out of social media!

Hunt went on to say there is a time-value-of-data.  This is an important concept for us to understand.  The value of data is worth more this second, than it is worth in two weeks.  When I activate the GPS on my iPhone, I want something to happen now not tomorrow.  The GPS sensor needs to give me immediate feedback.  Likewise, information about the location of a bad guy this second is much more valuable than where he was last month.

Have you ever had a slow GPS navigation system?  I have.  It told me to turn after I passed by the exit. GRRRRRR!

The CIA has a unique mission that involves filtering through mass volumes of big data sources for information that is important to our national security and interests.  Hunt identified seven universal constructs for analytics, or ways of organizing data that I found very interesting:
  1. People
  2. Places
  3. Organizations
  4. Times
  5. Events
  6. Concepts (value judgements - good or bad)
  7. Things (Internet of Things)
In my SMAC strategy sessions, I spend a lot of time educating my audience on five of these seven.  I might now need to re-think how to incorporate organizations (project teams?) and concepts into my sessions as well.

In the context of enterprise mobility, the location of your people and places (think job sites, customer locations, supply depots, etc.) are all very important.  However, time and events are equally important for project management and scheduling.   What time did you start and finish a job?  How long will it take to drive to the next job site?  What did you do while at the job site?  Did you complete the task?  All of these things are very important.

It is important to again look at what Hunt said about the time-value of data.  You cannot optimize a service technician's schedule if you don't know when he starts or finishes a job.  You can't optimize his driving route if you don't know when he is driving.

Today GIS (Geospatial information systems) are beginning to associate where things are at a particular moment in time, and how they are related to other objects, people, events, etc, around them.  These relationships will be very important.  For example, a construction manager may require a backhoe to continue on a project.  The backhoe is three hours from being on the job site.  This is important information for planning and scheduling.  It is important data that has a high time value if known in advance. However, it has very little value if it is only known after the fact.

What are the relationships between the construction manager, project, P&L and backhoe?  The manager owns the project and project P&L.  The project is on hold until the backhoe arrives, which jeopardizes the profitability and completion of the project.

All of this data about location, things, relationships and times is critical to optimizing projects and plans.

In the very near future, software developers will need to be much more familiar with the physical world, as the digital and physical are integrating around real-world data.  I will emphasize again that the value of the data is dependent upon the speed in which it is collected, analyzed and shared with those who can use it in the field.  But that is not all!  Here is a final quote from Mr. Hunt,  “The power of big data can only be fully realized when it is in the hands of the average person.”

Mobile strategies are not just about managing smartphones and securing data between the office and mobile workers.  It is about all of the things identified in this article and more.  It is about the time, location and relationships between moving players, concepts and events.  This is where the real fun is today!

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Kevin Benedict, Head Analyst for Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC) Cognizant
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Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and SMAC analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.