We humans are innately curious. The answer to a question often leads to more questions. This happens when we analyze data. The more we see, the more we want to learn. That’s why we need a flexible tool that lets us sculpt and mold our data in different ways as our needs change.
Unfortunately, most IoT applications ship with one-size-fits-all views that lead to dead-end dashboards. They answer a predetermined set of questions; we can’t go beyond what we’ve been given.
For example, we might have an IoT application that looks at the historical activity data of a broken engine and predicts what conditions led to failures, and how often a failure is likely. But what if we want to drill down on the parts that fail the most often? Maybe we want to see which factories manufactured these parts and when, or which suppliers caused the most issues. What then?
In the rare case that we can ask follow-up questions, we’ll likely have to port our data or engage in days-long—or even weeks-long—development cycles. And since questions, by their very nature, involve exploring the unknown, it can be difficult to justify the costs for a big IT project. But if we don’t explore, we also won't know what we could have learned, or what opportunities we missed.
So how do we get meaning out of IoT data without having to fund a huge IT project? The answer lies in interactivity. When we can interact with our data, we can have a conversation with our data. We can explore all sorts of permutations and even discover surprising patterns.
Mac Bryla made some surprising discoveries when he explored the phone metadata of Australian journalist Will Ockenden. In the spirit of discovery, Will procured and released his own data to the public, and was rather surprised by what Mac learned in just 10 minutes! The viz below illustrates how Mac peeled back the onion, layer by layer. This is an amazing showcase of what’s possible when we are empowered to ask and answer our own questions. It’s a far cry from static, closed-ended views that limit discussions before they have a chance to take shape.