Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Data Overload in a Mobile and M2M World

Massive Real Time Data Feeds
Last February American helicopters were involved in a deadly attack that resulted in many Afghan civilian deaths.  Investigators have pointed to data overload as the cause.  The drone operators were simultaneously receiving dozens of secure text messages from the troops, radio exchanges with analysts and live video feeds from drones.  All of this information was coming in real time at such volume that the operators were not able to process it quickly enough and bad decisions were made and executed upon.

Military officials are trying to determine what they can do to fix or improve the weak link in the data processing chain, which is the human link.  In earlier blog articles I have shared that there were similar findings in the Gulf of Mexico accident and resultant oil spill this past summer.  Hundreds of sensors on the oil rig were reporting data in real time, predicting trouble.  The problem was that the data was coming in at such volume that humans were not able to process and understand the full meaning of it in time to prevent the tragedy.

M2M (machine to machine) and wireless sensors can be implemented just about anywhere.  These sensors can be configured to report on just about anything at a low cost.  A company can set up and receive status data updates from tens of thousands of little sensors reporting in real time.  As shown in the two earlier examples, understanding what all the data means in real time is the biggest challenge.

I believe that SAP's investment and strategy for in memory computing, business analytics and mobility are all part of a plan to solve the challenge of helping humans make better and faster decisions at the point of work.  Even if SAP does not yet realize it, M2M and embedded wireless solutions will benefit from their strategy as well.  SAP's strategy is forward thinking and a game changer.

I can see companies like ClickSoftware and others utilizing real time business analytics to improve their dynamic and intra day scheduling solutions to help the mobile workforce become even more efficient.  I can see companies like Syclo improving their mobile EAM (enterprise asset management) solutions by incorporating M2M and embedded wireless sensors on high value assets that report status to mobile devices.

In 2011 the fun is just beginning!  There is much to learn, develop and implement.  I believe that mobility is just now starting to be understood as a technology, and now the business process folks need to jump in and begin to understand how their business processes can change based upon the capabilities of mobile and M2M technologies.

Kevin Benedict, SAP Mentor, Mobile and M2M Industry Analyst
Phone +1 208-991-4410
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Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility consultant, mobility analyst, writer and Web 2.0 marketing professional. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.