Many businesses are drawn to the Internet of Things (IoT) by the promise of data. It's the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the IoT rainbow.

There's no argument that today's ubiquitous connectivity allows us to capture massive amounts of data. So if data alone is your end game, it's awesome.

But keep in mind that this is just raw data — and raw data is nothing more than a commodity.

Making Data Useful

We have to process the raw data into a viable product to make it useful, and that takes a few steps.

To kick things off, we need a connected device in place that can capture the relevant raw data. What do we want it to capture? It could be anything from environmental data to interactions with other devices as they come into proximity.

Once we define and capture the designated data, it’s time to send that data off to the cloud so the second step in the process can begin.

At this point we are a third of the way through the process. We have a device that can capture the data we need, we are capturing the data and we are sending the data we collect off to the cloud to be processed.

Making Sense of the Data

Once the data reaches its destination — which will be some analytic platform or system — we can begin to build the base datasets. Once we have those datasets we can correlate the data against other sets of data.

And then the real fun begins.

That raw data can be crunched and analyzed. We can transform the raw data into useful information.

Now there are a lot of ways that this can be tackled, depending on if someone wants predictive analytics or a historical view for trending. But regardless of the approach that data has to be turned into information before it can move on to the critical third step.

Once we have information, the process is almost complete. But the most difficult task still lies ahead.

Extracting Insights

We have successfully churned the data into information, but it now has to make the final transformation into knowledge.

For information to successfully morph to knowledge it needs to be presented to the user in such a way that its value and the insight it offers are apparent.

This is the biggest challenge of deriving true value from the data that is captured from the Internet of Things.

From my point of view, this comes down to controlling the user experience (UX). The best way to tackle the issue is by working to refine the user interface (UI) and data visualizations so that the data is displayed in a simple and understandable manner.

The goal is to give the user the ability to manipulate the view and navigate options — quickly, easily, intuitively. Of course this is much easier said than done, but it is a challenge worth undertaking.

Ultimately we can collect all the data possible from the connected devices that make up the Internet of Things. But if we cannot put it in front of the users in a way that allows them to take advantage of it, then its value is lost.

Title image by Ryan McGuire