Take Control of Your Data

“Big Data” and “analytics” have been in a lot of conversations lately. Many businesses want to jump on the wagon to use big data for marketing and product development. At the same time, most of the companies don’t really know what to do with a flood of data. How to capture, analyze and utilize this data for business insights is critical.

O’Reilly published an ebook titled Business Models for Data Economy, and it is a good reference book for this topic. It says, “Whether you call it Big Data, data science, or simply analytics, modern businesses see data as a gold mine.” Indeed, we live in a fast-evolving world of data economy. Forrester predicted that 2014 would be the year that marketing leaders will put insights to use.

My interest in Big Data started while I was writing my bookEveryday NFC”. I realized that sensors play a crucial role in helping big data move forward, and I wanted to learn more about Big Data. Going to a conference on the topic was a quick way for me to pick up the terminologies, use cases and visions. Networking with early adopters and watching their progress were good learning points. After this initial overwhelming learning experience, I was able to dive deeper into a specific area that applied to my work.

Here is an opportunity for you to learn about Big Data or to share your experience.

The Big Data Innovation Summit will be held in Santa Clara on April 9-10 in 2014, to guide you in taking control of your data. The Summit brings leading thinkers together for presentations, workshops and panels. To network with these people would be a big win in the Summit. There are four tracks: Data Analytics, Hadoop & No SQL, Data Science and the Machine Learning & Algorithms. You can view the schedule here. Follow #datawest14 and @IE_BigData for further updates.

Are you ready to jump on the wagon?


NFC in 2013

NFC had a good run in 2013. Every month, we heard exciting news about NFC products or trials being launched. These launches have extended far beyond the “mobile payment” category to include product/service marketing, toys, games, furniture, printing, utilities, machine-to-machine (M2M) communication, quality control, inventory management, service automation, and more.

ABI research pointed out that smartphones will continue to account for the majority of NFC shipments in 2013 as volumes jump by 129%. However, from 2014 onwards, computing products, peripherals and automotive will have greater adoption of NFC, and consequently, smartphones will decline from a peak of 80% of all NFC device shipments in 2013 to less than 60% in 2017.

NFC and other connectivity enablers are greatly expanding an “Internet of Things (IoT)”. It’s obvious that we are becoming increasingly connected through wireless technology, and M2M communication is on its rise. A good example is that Google and Apple are about to expand their battle to a new front: the automobile. This was reported by the WSJ a couple of days ago.

Big data is a buzz word nowadays. NFC, RFID, QR Code, and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) are all types of sensors that contribute to the big data scenario. Big data analytics are going to produce valuable information about consumers and merchandise. It’s also going to change the retail store shopping and mobile phone experience.

One of the usages of NFC is mobile payment. Recently, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile launched ISIS – NFC mobile payment using a SIM-based secure element that manages payment credentials. It will take a while before the consumer market adopts this technology since NFC is not yet a familiar technology, and mobile payment is not a yet a common practice.

In addition, a different approach to implement mobile wallet emerged. Google Wallet led the way to adopt the Host Card Emulation (HCE) approach in order to implement NFC secure app independently from telecom’s control of SIMs. Tim Horton’s, a North American coffee chain, has also launched an NFC mobile payment service using HCE at 3,500 locations in Canada and 800 in the United States. It will be interesting to watch the battle between various NFC mobile payment implementations and adoptions.

2014 should be an exciting year as NFC products and services continue to grow in availability and usage.

Sensors and Big Data Analytics

After learning about Google’s Sensing Lab, I did some reading on Big Data and sensors.

In the book of “Taming the Big Data Tidal Wave” by Bill Franks, the value of sensor data was demonstrated with the case of industrial engines and equipment. It discussed how the embedded sensors were utilized from aircraft engines to tanks in order to monitor the second-by-second or millisecond-by-millisecond status of the equipment. All data was fed into “Big Data” analytics.

IBM and The Beacon Institute also collaborated on an effort to use a sensor-enabled monitoring network In order to track temperature, salinity and pollution of the Hudson River. Actually IBM Big Data Technology is used to develop several environmental protection projects like this one.

What about proximity sensors and Big Data? Coca Cola is using NFC tags and QR codes in 100 selected retail stores to collect the data about user behavior and handsets. The backend platform collects analytics such as time, location, frequency of interaction, tap vs. scan, phone model, operating system, service provider and browser type. SocialTagg, a startup in LA, offers an event management platform to enrich attendees’ networking experience by using Big Data analytics on QR codes/NFC tags that were assigned to the event participants.

I will be leading a panel on “Building a Link Between NFC/Proximity Technologies & Big Data” in WIMA USA – NFC and Proximity Solution conference on October 29th in San Francisco. I am looking forward to having a rich discussion with the participants. If you are a “Big Data” expert and would like to join the panel, please contact me at info@everydaynfc.com.

Big Data and NFC Mobile Payment

Today, while I was finishing an online purchase, a window popped up on my screen to ask if I wanted a free purchase protection service from Google. (See screen shot at the end of the blog)

If I were regular online shopper, I might think, “How nice, why not to take advantage of the free protection?” However, being into Big Data, I see this as a smart attempt on behalf of Google to collect data. Currently Google collects a lot of information about their customers using Google search, Gmail, Google docs, maps and calendar. Offering free purchase protection gives them the opportunity to further develop their big data analysis by collecting information on online purchase.

In its recent blog, Google said if any information is stored in Google+, Gmail,  or Google calendar, it can instantly accessible through voice search. This information, which will be secured through encryption, includes information on flights, reservations, purchases, plans, and photos. This is how transparent our life. The more data we provide to a service provider, the more they can make our life easier. The cost, however, is that we have less privacy. For example, A Wall Street Journal article titled “NSA Reaches Deep Into U.S. To Spy on Net” reported yesterday that NSA systems have the capacity to reach roughly 75% of all US internet traffic.

When NFC mobile payment takes off, telecoms will own mobile purchase information. That data will enable them to understand their customers better. If I were a leader in the telecom industry, I would want to obtain clarity about what consumer mobile purchase data means to the bottom line of my business, to the lives of my consumers and to the whole ecosystem in order to generate the business intelligence that benefits all.

In the article “One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Big Data”, the author pointed out ” We have a long way to go to get rid of the mindset that data is all about marketing and advertising.” I trust innovation comes from this kind of awareness, sharing and discussion. What do you think?


NFC and Big Data

Near Field Communication (NFC) is a wireless connectivity technology. The key word here is “connectivity”. It is not rocket science; it is similar to WIFI or Bluetooth, the technologies that we are familiar with and widely use. NFC enables devices within short proximity (4 cm) to connect with each other in order to exchange information. It also enables devices to read and write from/to NFC tags in order to retrieve or distribute data.

The term WIFI was used commercially in 2000. I remember that in 2002, I used three long Ethernet cables in order to connect  my home computers to the internet. The next year, I bought a WIFI router and started taking advantage of wireless connectivity. Nowadays, when we go to Starbucks, we connect our laptops to the WIFI network and start browsing the web within seconds. The hardware (wireless adapter) and user interface make the connectivity so easy that we don’t even think of the underlying mechanism.

Bluetooth specifications were developed in 1994 and many products are using the technology now. In the tele-healthcare industry, Bluetooth enabled medical devices provide significant value to the consumer. For example, a patient can take a blood pressure reading with a Bluetooth device at home and a nurse can remotely monitor the readings through a server.

NFC is based on RFID technology. The first RFID patent was granted in 1983. The NFC Forum was established in 2004. In 2006, the first NFC-enabled phone was released by Nokia. Today, most newly released smart phones are NFC enabled; they have an NFC chip inside the phone that communicates with NFC tags or other NFC enabled phones, consumers know very little about this capability because of lacking of education.

With your NFC enabled phone,  you can tap your phone with a new friend’s NFC phone and exchange contact information upon agreement. That’s the simplicity of connectivity. This kind of data exchange will add more data into the Big Data realm.

Big data is a hot topic nowadays. Enterprises want to leverage it in order to serve their customers or to develop customer desired products. Whatever we say, write, connect to or exchange with; structured or unstructured data all are part of the Big Data. With the broad usage of mobile devices, big data can be collected easily with or without our permission. When combined with Cloud computing, Big Data analysis can be performed easily and create tremendous impacts to the businesses.

AWS Summit NYC 2012, Werner Vogel’s keynote shared how a drug designer used computational chemistry algorithms with 21 Million compounds to develop a medication that would treat cancer. A Cloud platform shortened the process time and operational expense while dealing with big data analysis.

NFC, like any other connectivity enabler data traffic, will provide useful information for businesses and provide value for consumers. Any business that is thinking of capturing NFC data will be ahead of the game. I believe when consumers start to adopt NFC, it will become part of our life.