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If a Tree Fell in the Forest…


Cary BushBy Cary Bush

If a tree fell in the forest, and no one was around to witness it, how much data did we fail to collect?  Let me ask that question a little differently: If a tree fell in the forest and no one saw it (or heard it or videoed it or measured it in any way), how much data went missing?

Seems like a very silly question, right?  Well, silly as it may be and a tacky play on the old question, “If a tree fell in the forest and no one was around to hear it, would it make any noise?” it is quite relevant in this era of big data. Now there has been lots of data around us throughout history, but now we are starting to realize not simply how much data is available around us, but also how to collect it and even more importantly, how to assemble it in ways that makes sense for bringing forth efficiency.

A recent article on Network World started out with this line: “Self-driving cars, which some experts have predicted will be readily available within five years, will come with a myriad of sensors creating machine-to-machine data at the rate of 1GB a second, according to one strategist.”  Think about that 1GB per second. That is an incredible amount of data, but given the number of sensors that are on new motors (and surrounding equipment), it’s really not all that surprising. I also heard recently that a Boeing 737 engine generates 10 terabytes of data during a 30-minute flight. What was even more amazing than that was how they were going to use this collectible data to bring together very tiny improvements that when applied collectively (to the thousands of engines of that kind in use right now) will save billions of dollars in fuel costs.

There is data all around us. I am creating more data as I type these words on my Chromebook than I can keep track of. Now some of it wouldn’t do me any good to know about anyway (at least not that I am aware of) because it’s not going to change my life or habits if I actually know things like how much heat per second I am bringing into an air-conditioned room from these actions or the effect that might have on my home’s electric bill or the strain that might be making my eyes a little worse or other tidbits of the like. And those are the things that actually can be measured because there are tools (somewhere) that could check all that. That doesn’t even take into account the personal or mentally tedious effects like what am I not getting done while I am discussing these abstract topics or when will insecurities be put to rest for things that are running through the back of my mind or whether or not I remember to get my wife a present in time for her birthday next week.

Most of this may seem like nonsense, but my point is that there is a lot of data around us in the form of energy, as well as a lot of data within us in the form of thought and motive.  The cool thing about what is happening in the world of technology right now is that there are many more ways to track this energy or these tendencies, and the resulting data might be used for the betterment of our world or our lives.

Hopefully you can see the benefit of somehow including this awareness in your sales and service process. Not only that, but think of the ways that “packaging” these huge amounts of data all around us everyday could become a service itself. That’s what companies like Google, Salesforce.com and Hubspot are doing, but a lot of what they are doing is collecting the data that’s already out there and openly accessible on the Internet. This concept, however, can apply to your company as you seek to deliver and package cloud or connectivity solutions to your customers; it may require some more “mining” of the problems that your customers face. One person’s problem may actually turn out to be another person’s data and suffice it to say you can put a price tag on that.

So back to my question about the tree and the missed data … would we really miss it? Well, most of us probably would not miss anything, but I assure you that there is data to be collected; especially if it could be collected on every tree that fell unnoticed everyday in forests around the world  now that’s some big (and “green”) data!

The real question for solution providers and channel partners is, how are you going to capitalize on the growing needs for businesses and organizations (and even individuals) to collect, assemble, report and react to these massive amounts of data that are now being collected?

Cary Bush is chief “cloud advocate” at Cloud Based Service Inc. and is experienced on all sides of the communications industry channel. His former roles have included leading business development efforts in the VAR realm, as well as a stint in enterprise account management with a leading communications manufacturer. Having previously served on technology and channel advisory boards, and currently evangelizing how organizations can benefit by applying cloud solutions, he voices his opinions from his mid-Tennessee “home base” as a member of the Nashville Technology Council and vice chair of his alma mater’s (Trevecca) Association of Business Professionals. 


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