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Two major advances in technology have the potential to greatly change how everything operates. One is data analytics, where the gathering of raw information can help plan out and predict actions before they happen. The other is the Internet of Things, a powerful system of sensor interaction and machine communication that will enable responses to problems without any level of human interaction. In many ways, both of these technologies, like many in development today, have the potential to intertwine and work together in order to improve businesses, especially when taken into the context of business intelligence software working in conjunction with manufacturing machines on the shop floor.

A better way to communicate
As IBM noted recently, the Internet of Things is a network of endpoints containing sensors, storage and tiny computers that process information and communicate it with one another. In a certain way, it's an advance from arbitrary machine communication in that that the sensors are often independent of the machine's operation and can function on their own. This is useful, especially when considering that it can monitor machine activity for maintenance and repair purposes.

"IoT sensors gather information without human prompting."

However, that concept is a basic application of the Internet of Things. A greater potential, as we'll see in the coming years, comes from the fact that these sensors can gather information without any human prompting, then process it without any informal prompting. Gathering this information opens up a variety of opportunities. For example, cars will become smarter in that they can better detect threats on the road and even drive themselves. Homes will improve their energy efficiency while maintaining a high standard of comfortable living. Mobile commerce will become far more flexible as well, while logistics operations gain real-time management capabilities.

A symbiotic relationship
Where big data steps in is that with many more machines being able to capture data, these sensors require something to process and analyze it all, Forbes suggested. Machine learning, graph analysis and stream computing all present options to clear out this information. These processes require analytics technology such as IBM Cognos BI just to sort and combine all the data. What happens as a result is that sensors, whether attached to shipping containers or air conditioners, will become more cognitive in response to the information they receive, creating more symbiotic relationship between the data and machine. This enables a stronger response to business and customer needs, and it helps solve issues as – and sometimes before – they appear.