The Internet of Things. Just saying the words conjures up these amazing images of a Hollywood-esque future. Your car talks to your air conditioner, letting it know when you will be home so your house is at the perfect temperature at the perfect time. Your fridge talks to your bathroom scale and (annoyingly) tells you what you should and shouldn’t be eating.

But consumer products are only part of the picture. And, surprisingly, a relatively small part. According to a recent article in Business Insider, “The manufacturing, transportation, warehousing, and information sectors will invest the most in IoT systems and devices in the next five years, we estimate. Manufacturers are currently the leading industry to use IoT devices and we estimate there (sic) total investment will reach $140 billion over the next five years” (bolded type in original.)

Personally, these findings both fascinate and terrify me. On the one hand, of course these data-heavy sectors of industry are poised to utilize the Internet of Things: they live on information! Because they are in constant movement throughout the workday they already produce mountains of data, and when every cog in that great machine is connected to the Internet the amount of information coming and going will be absolutely staggering.

But, there’s also a scary part. Just think about all that information with no one to analyze it. Manufacturing, transportation, warehousing- these industries produce data at a sub-second rate that defies traditional analysis. Just look at the current state of things; We can look at a periodic snapshot of the data or watch the data stream flow past looking for anomalies and trends, but how have we historically been able to mash multiple data feeds together to look at them in real time and make adjustments? How do we let the system itself fix any future problems – a pre-emptive strike against unforeseen challenges?

This, I believe, is the danger in the Internet of Things. It sounds great to have every part of your business feeding you information, but I fear we are ignoring the analysis. With a new information paradigm bearing down on us, we need a new way to understand it.

If we look to our (ever-dwindling) supply of data analysts for help in the future we will have a bottleneck situation: too much information, and too few, expensive analysts who can only give insight into the past and offer suggestions for the future. As the Internet of Things feeds data in real-time we need live data analysis. This allows us to use the data as fast as it’s generated and get the real value out of Internet connected devices.

That is the dream, the Hollywood-esque future we all hope for in the Internet of Things. It’s not just generating data it’s using it well, empowering everyone to make data-driven decisions that matter. Internet of Things is not just for the analyst, it’s for all of us. When we put the power of the Internet of Things in the hands of a route manager, machine operator, supply chain ticketer, site supervisor or QC inspector we gain the ability to act and correct any type of data anomaly or inconsistency as it happens. That is what operational intelligence is, and it needs to be a part of that dream. Just think of the progress we could make.

Suzanne Hoffman is VP of Sales at VisualCue with 25 years of business intelligence experience. You can connect with her on Twitter and see more from the team on Facebook.