• Internet of Things
  • Lisa Seacat DeLuca
  • OCT 04, 2017

Feeling Cut-off? Try Living on the Edge with IoT

Ready to dig deeper into IoT? Browse courses like Introduction to the Internet of Things (IoT) developed by industry thought leaders and Experfy in Harvard Innovation Lab.

I just got home from a relaxing vacation in Montana, where I was born and raised. While I was out there I got to go fly-fishing on the Yellowstone River with my father and headed to Virginia City to see a true old-Western gold mining town -- picture something right out of West World. 

On our drives through the state, my cellular connection cut out a number of times. This is what “living in the edge” means to the business world; the edge of the network, those remote places where the bandwidth we enjoy at home and work is in short supply, and connectivity is erratic at best or nonexistent altogether.

Most of us take connectivity for granted since, for the most part, it’s both ubiquitous and dependable. I say for the most part, because there are times when it’s lost. The good news is that this connection always comes back, sooner rather than later. 

But for many businesses, especially those located in remote locations, this connection doesn’t come back. For these businesses, being cut off from critical data is a daily reality and it’s problematic for teams that need to monitor information from a variety of devices around the clock in order to drive new efficiencies, ensure employee safety and more.

The New Data Dilemma 


We’re living in a time where everything from elevators to factory floors are becoming digitized and connected and businesses are using the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud to turn their goldmine of data into insight that they can use to back better business decisions. But at the edge, those remote locations that I mentioned earlier, this data stays in the dark, untapped and unused.

Consider an Oil Rig. While these complex structures can have as many as 30,000 sensors, teams are only examining 1 percent of that data. That’s 1 percent of what can be as much as 2 terabytes of data being generated each day. For such a technologically advanced piece of machinery, teams cannot afford to operate without having the full facts at their finger-tips. 

Living on the Edge with the Internet of Things: Turning Data into Insight


It’s estimated that by 2020, there will be more than 21 billion connected devices generating more bits of data than there are stars in the known universe. 

At IBM, we find companies very curious about cognitive capabilities which allow businesses to understand the patterns and relationships in the massive amounts of data being collected and use it to guide decision making, explore new business models and more. And this technology is now available to companies on the edge of the network.  

By bringing IoT to the edge, the oil rig I mentioned earlier will no longer be handcuffed by the lack of network connectivity. Quite the opposite, teams can now capture and analyze information where they need it most, right there on the rig. 

While this sounds like moonshot innovation, the reality is that IoT technology is available today, anywhere. For teams on the oil rig this means they can employ predictive maintenance to apply a deeper analysis of historical data to build predictive models that help determine the health of the machines, anything from the crown block and drilling cab to the mud pump and blow out preventer. With these insights, they can forecast when a potential failure may occur, right there on the rig. 

For data that doesn’t need immediate action, it can be sent to the cloud where it’s processed on deeper levels. For example, data from multiple rigs could be compared to identify possible trends which teams can then act on to create even higher levels of efficiency across the entire operations.

We are fast moving toward a future of democratizing the world of IoT, giving everyone, from the c-suite and shop floor to a rig located in the Gulf of Mexico, access to these innovative technologies. As a result, they will have new opportunities to turn their most vital data into insight, when and where it’s needed most so they can transform their operations, improve the health of their machines, help ensure the safety of their employees and so much more. 

Originally posted at LinkedIn

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