The NFL and the Internet of Things
With the NFL season in full swing, a football watching audience is getting a glimpse of the “Internet of Things” (IoT) in action every Thursday night. The “things” in this case are two sensors placed into the shoulder pads of the players who suit up for the nationally televised Thursday night games. Data about each player’s speed, acceleration, deacceleration and direction is collected from the sensors and used to provide enhanced visuals and analysis to the viewing audience. To be sure, the NFL is capturing and analyzing a lot of data stemming from this technology. While there are very interesting prospects for revenue as the NFL explores IoT, this particular usage of IoT is a bit of a novelty. There are much broader business opportunities around IoT.
What is IoT?
IoT relates to the interface and capture of data from sensors and devices. Sensors can collect data from things like valves, meters, gyroscopes, etc. (think Nest™ Thermostats or flow rate of chemicals and materials in a manufacturing plant). Devices can be everything from phones and tablet computers to embedded systems (think fleet GPS tracking, smart vending machines or even pacemakers).
Microsoft’s IoT Platform: Intelligent Systems Service
Microsoft’s IoT solution is called Azure Intelligent Systems Service (ISS) and is part of the Microsoft Azure cloud platform (Azure/ISS). Mariner views Intelligent Systems Service as a component of the digital business architecture. Digital business combines cloud based predictive analytics (e.g., Microsoft Azure Machine Learning) decision management systems (e.g., Sparkling Logic SMARTS) integrated with work management systems. This platform can be leveraged for significant business value by providing data that can reduce response times, improve accuracy, ensure consistency and optimize outcomes. Intelligent Systems Service brings valuable data from devices and sensors into the mix.
Traditionally IoT approaches have been slow and complex to implement, fraught with security concerns and difficult to integrate because of mix-matched interface standards across different devices and sensors. Microsoft Azure Intelligent Systems Service handles collecting machine-generated data in a secure manner, leveraging a lower cost and inherently scalable, cloud-based approach and is agnostic toward the underlying operating system, form factor and connection interface of the devices. Collected data is processed using Microsoft HD Insight (for Hadoop-based processing any kind of data – structured, unstructured and semi-structured – ideal for machine generated data and real-time event streams) and then analyzed with familiar tools such as Microsoft Power BI and Microsoft Excel.