Peek into a parallel universe

JUST as we begin to get our heads around big data, along comes another concept to blow our minds: the Internet of Things. This is the stuff of every science fiction novel, every paranoid fantasy, every marketer’s dream.

The Internet of Things refers to the billions of devices and sensors — from phones and ID cards to cows with biochip transponders and people with heart monitor implants — that feed information to the worldwide web. Entire networks of data, fired off by things as simple as a building thermostat or a car engine, are recorded every second on the internet.

Big data is one thing: those colossal silos of machine-generated information lying idle in company computers — billing lists and log files, for instance — just waiting to be illuminated by data scientists.

South African specialists such as Tharollo churn big data into usable chunks. Think of a centrifuge, like a washing machine’s spin cycle, whirling a soup of raw data until patterns begin to form on the drum.

That is the gunk that managers and product developers can go to work on. No more gut feel. The data tells them how customers are really grouped -not how bosses think they might be grouped.

The Internet of Things is quite another animal. It is much bigger than the real-time activity registered on a server, network, cloud or operating system. We are taking a quantum lurch in the IT galaxy.

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