The Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning are still in the early stages of what we see as an explosion of development. These two technological trends will be used in tandem to change the way electric utilities and communications companies (telecom, CATV, broadband) deliver services and develop future plans. Already, machine learning startups focusing on IoT and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) are receiving quite a bit of funding.
Real-Time Analytics Instead of Historical Analysis
Smart grids and intelligent networks are exciting tools of the IoT that allow companies to more efficiently allocate resources and know what is happening in real-time on their grids and networks -- how individual customers or specific groups of customers are using services at any given moment.
Previously, this type of information was only available as historical data. Historical analysis is limited in its ability to predict future use and is useless to prevent a current crisis. However, with the help of machine learning, real-time analytics could allow a utility, for example, to automatically make critical changes and avoid service disruptions while conserving resources.
When the IoT is paired with machine learning technology, the network itself becomes a data collection machine and a sophisticated, fully-automated, real-time problem solver.
Network-Based Solutions to Security
One concern that haunts any discussion of the IoT is security. However, machine learning is poised to play a major part in making the IoT and IIoT much more secure. The idea is to start using network-based solutions for security rather than relying on device manufacturers. Machine learning would allow a network to prevent attacks by requiring security updates, automatically reacting to attacks, and containing threats to specific parts of the network until the threat can be neutralized.
Machine learning will allow all of these security measures to happen instantly, without human intervention. Hackers are already using a variety of sophisticated bots to probe network defenses and launch massive attacks. Machine learning will be agile enough to counter these attacks and enable networks to pivot from being constantly on the defensive to proactively looking for dangerous bots, and monitoring and neutralizing them as needed.
Machine Learning and Consumer Preferences
Many consumers already use machine learning to help them find stories they are interested in on social media. When plugged into an IoT web, machine learning will provide people with the same kind of personalized care, but instead of stories, they will have a house that is always at the perfect temperature, lights that come on and shut off automatically, and will never have to deal with slow data delivery when watching movies or playing games.
Machine learning will be the nerve center that makes promised efficiency and profitability of the IoT a reality. In the next few years, there may no longer be a meaningful distinction between an industrial company and a technological company. The IoT and machine learning will unify these fields into a cohesive whole.