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“Big data” the latest MWC buzzword(s)

If you want to catch up on the latest buzz-words or phrases that later become the lingua-Franca of the communications industry there cannot be a better place to be in late February than the Mobile World Congress. For years now the annual communications industry jamboree has been responsible for educating the industry, and later the general population, of new technologies, products and concepts that over time grow to have an important impact on daily life. Many will have heard of 3G, HSPA, the smartphone, NFC and M2M first at MWC, maybe years before these phrases reached the high street.

The fact that most of these words are in common parlance and may now seem old-hat, is proof of how deeply integrated technology becomes, and how quickly. This year at MWC the “big data” concept has been the champion. The show has also seen the re-affirmation of two technologies in particular - M2M and NFC. M2M, along with other technologies, is likely to form the backbone on which big data is delivered.

The notion behind big data is that inconceivable volumes of data, available through sensors and modules that are being placed into anything from cars to smart meters, can be brought together and analysed, resulting in some really powerful conclusions, by virtue of the huge size of the data sample. The mobile networks, of course, are responsible for delivering big data to the point where it may be analysed, and massive computing power is responsible for the number crunching.

According to the big data concept, as more sensors and M2M modules are installed, and we move towards the “internet of things,” companies offering M2M services will be able to generate revenue both from specific M2M services, and from the analysis of data or the sale of data itself.

However, one thing could threaten the potential of this particular application of big data, and that is the possibility that M2M modules, despite having been installed in machines, may lie idle, as subscribers do not re-subscribe to paying telematics services, for example. And big data is already sufficiently important to count when companies develop their M2M strategies. Manufacturers and service providers might be tempted to push up the price of services, but if this strategy causes churn and the loss of big data, they could be shooting themselves in the foot.