big dataExperts predicted more wearable technology wrapped up under the Christmas tree in 2015, and they weren’t wrong. We were gifted with everything from simple fitness trackers to smart watches, glasses, jewellery, headgear, belts and e-textiles. After the “toys but no batteries” disaster of years gone by, I’d argue it’s a data flake-out that will worry parents next year as their children run around excitedly with their Christmas loot.

Sales of wearable technology have already quadrupled over the last five years, and the global wearables market is expected to reach a value of 19 billion US dollars in 2018 – more than ten times its value in 2013. And it’s not just wearables. According to Gizmag “nowadays kids expect their toys to connect to the internet, pair with smart devices, and let them join in the latest tech trends.”

But now as we move beyond the holiday season, last Christmas will likely prove a drop in the ocean compared to what is to come in 2016. The market for wearable technology is exploding. By 2019, research firm IDC predicts worldwide shipments will reach 173.4 million units – that’s a growth rate of nearly 23% over the next five years. Most, if not all of these new and exciting devices, are being either powered by and or leveraging data to make the experience complete.

It’s not just the amount of devices that are on the rise either. The sophistication of these wearable devices is also increasing. The average wearable device in 2013 had 1.3 sensors, but by 2019 they are expected to carry 4.1. The data these devices now need to capture, keep and distribute is growing in multiple directions – and with each device also leveraging at least one application the resulting data tsunami could be lethal for service providers without the right technology in place to ride it.

Weathering the data storm

This raises the question as to whether today’s brave wearable technology pioneers are fully prepared for the potential data challenge that is to come. Once turned on, if the promise of personalised engagement, instant connection or reliable multiplayer gaming is not delivered, excitement can quickly dwindle and brand promises are broken. In the future, meeting peak demand and availability while allowing for scalability will become business imperatives for many companies, to ensure this doesn’t happen.

There is growing awareness of the challenges that IoT-generated data presents. Not only has it become clear that traditional relational databases cannot manage the scale of IoT data, but many databases are also ill-equipped to handle the specialised nature of IoT data sets, including time series data – by which I simply mean data that is created with a timestamp. Yet the ability to effectively collect, store, and analyse time series data is critical to harnessing the IoT’s power to help businesses gain those valuable insights, power digital transformations, and drive more effective customer engagements.

Resolving the data storm with NoSQL

This year, the companies who are first to address the issue of managing time series data will possess a strong competitive advantage over those lingering behind. The starting point is to consider the data strategy “from the ground up”, and its beating heart is the database. Without the right solution in place, the ability of an IoT business to scale cost effectively with demand, while ensuring data is always correct and available – when and where it is needed – is severely limited. Read more