Transporting analytics to the Internet of Things

By IDB Guest Blogger: Lee Ann Dietz, SAS

Why are so many companies across a diverse set of industries investing in and around the Internet of Things? Everywhere I go, every blog I read … I sound like my favorite band from the 80s: the Internet of Things is watching me.

In reality, it’s the reverse: I’m seeing the Internet of Things (Iot) everywhere: companies investing in sensors, networking and applications with the expectation that this investment will increase revenues, lower costs and improve profitability over the short and long term.

While the term the Internet of Things was coined in 1999 by Kevin Ashton at Procter & Gamble, the mainstream application of IoT is just getting started. As the trend has heightened, I’ve been evaluating the potential for IoT to support better decision making in travel and transportation.

My experience in the travel and transportation industry has always been about using analytics to support decision making. In fact, I started my career as a pricing strategy analyst at American Airlines. And now I’m fully converted. You can call me an evangelist for the IoT in transportation, especially because the potential to take data coming from the IoT, incorporate purposeful analytics and reach better decisions quickly, is significant.

This week, I am presenting as a guest of the Institute for Defense & Business at the 2015 NDTA-USTRANSCOM Fall Meeting on the convergence of IoT and analytics in the transportation industry.

I am speaking directly about why I have become so enamored with the ability of the IoT to deliver business value, especially in transportation.  It’s really quite simple: the IoT delivers value through the data that the things provide for decision-making.

This data is collected by sensors and devices on railcar components, semi-truck engines, or other elements within the transportation value chain. And it is now available on a real-time, or streaming, basis.  This provides the ability to learn from trends in that data quickly and act upon those trends within seconds.

Gone are the days where data is collected over the span of weeks or months, sent to an analyst for review, and – after another week or two of data crunching – the analyst presents a report or PowerPoint to her boss with recommendations for changes.

As Tom Davenport said:

To make the Internet of Things useful, we need an Analytics of Things.  This will mean new data management and integration approaches, and new ways to analyze streaming data continuously.

So, in order to take advantage of the streaming big data (and it is big data by every definition of the phrase) coming from the sensors, we must reconsider how we use analytics.  Remember, that I didn’t say that the analytics themselves must change.  In most cases, we can use the same analytics applied to streaming data as we used in a batch model.

What we need is a good understanding of where we apply the analytics: on the edge, at rest or in the middle. Let me explain:

  • Analytics on the edge means analysis at the specific device or sensor.
  • Analytics at rest means data pulled out of the stream and used for high-performance analytic model development
  • Analytics in the middle takes place on data as it’s streaming. Some analysts have called this middle ground “the fog,” and it’s relevant because it can be a combination of the streaming data itself enriched with sitting data such that we can detect more complex events sooner.

We have now arrived at a different place in the analytic continuum.  The optimal analytics experience is a multi-stage analytics experience.  It includes continuous queries on data in motion and at the edge, with incrementally updated results.  This new process moves analytics from centralized data warehouses to edge analytics, which are closer to the occurrence of the events.

What does multi-stage analytics of IoT data look like? It happens fast (seriously, we are speaking about microseconds or msecs at this point) and at very high volumes.  It requires specific business rules that give instructions on whether to save, discard, aggregate, transform or enrich the streaming data without overloading the entire system or network.  Multi-stage analytics includes pre-determined data mining, decision making, alerting, scoring, and profiling of the data to exploit the value of the streaming data.  And, it might also include managing the data differently – creating “out of order” handling to make the data source streams understandable to the analytics and the decision-makers.

We have all the building blocks in place to exploit the value of the Internet of Things and the Analytics of Things: sensors, or assets, creating data, the communications network connecting the data and the analytic and computing applications that make use of the data flowing to and from the things.

The Internet of Things can be transformative in transportation operations: in maintenance and engineering, you will have more information sooner, which means you can predict the maintenance needs of individual assets before failures occur and proactively service assets at an opportune time when your asset is near a repair facility.  This reduces costs across your operations.  In supply chain situations, you can monitor inventory levels on a near real-time basis, develop better forecasting models and optimize this inventory, when and where you need, lowering supply costs, increasing efficiency and enhancing revenue opportunities. On the customer side of transportation, you can enhance the customer’s experience by providing real-time forecasts of arrivals and notifying them sooner if delays occur.  And, happier customers are loyal customers.

The Internet of Things opens up tremendous opportunities for transportation companies, generating significant streaming data which can be relevant for decision-making.  However, it is critical to apply the appropriate analytics to streaming data in order to derive value from that data.

Multi-stage analytics is not rocket science; it’s simply the judicious application of the right analytics at the right time in the right place to the right data, which is what you need to exploit the value of the Internet of Things.  That is why I’ve become an Internet of Things and Analytics of Things evangelist.


This content is reposted with permission from SAS Voices, where the original post appeared.

Revamped Education for Crisis Response

CSER LogoThe Center for Stabilization and Economic Reconstruction (CSER), is announcing a change in name and curriculum for its signature education program for crisis response. CSER is dedicated to creating collaborative education programs for post-conflict and post-disaster responders. Its revamped course, Cooperation in Stability Operations (CSER-CSO), aims to improve cooperation during times of crisis among public, private, military, and volunteer sectors.

Executive Director of CSER Ambassador (Ret.) David C. Litt crafted the name and curriculum changes in response to feedback from program alumni. CSER-CSO, formerly named Logistics Cooperation for Stabilization and Reconstruction (LCSR), will examine cooperation among logisticians and non-logisticians, as well as between relief and recovery responders. The course underscores the importance of effective cooperation along three concurrent continuums:

  • “Functional”:           Strategists-planners-operators-logisticians
  • “Cultural”:               Public/private, civilian/military, domestic/international
  • “Temporal”:           Relief-rehabilitation-reconstruction, or response-recovery

Litt said he has received extremely encouraging feedback regarding the changes.

“Our alumni, from different organizational cultures, have applauded the new dimensions we will explore – namely how strategy, planning, operations, and logistics are inextricably connected, and probing the seam between immediate relief and longer-term recovery. I was grateful that those who had attended LCSR wrote admiringly about that experience as well. They avowed that the combination of old and new will be even more valuable for responders in the future.”

The debut of CSER-CSO will take place April 12-17, 2015 with additional offerings August 23-28, 2015 and December 13-18, 2015. Visit the program website or contact Ms. April McGill, Senior Client Relations Manager, at for more information!

IDB Featured in Military Logistics Forum “Educating the Logistician”

militarylogisticsforum.2014.07In their July 2014 issue, Military Logistics Forum took a look at what it takes to prepare 21st century logicians. IDB was mentioned alongside other prestigious organizations offering logistics education which understand what it takes to be masters of the supply chain–regardless of which sector one is in.

The article begins on page 13

You can also find the article here.

Stability Operations Book Recommendation: Warfront to Storefront by Paul Brinkley

Anyone familiar with or intrigued by the “wicked problems” inherent in stability operations will appreciate Warfront to Storefront, former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Paul Brinkley’s new book released in February 2014. Warfront to Storefront chronicles the formation, operation, successes, and failures of the Department of Defense’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO) from its formation in 2006 with a focus on Iraq through present day activities in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

TFBSO’s central operating premise is that stability is more likely/achievable when the local economy is functioning, jobs are available, and there are legitimate, legal alternatives to taking money from insurgent forces. The story provides an insider’s view of the challenges and triumphs of Brinkley’s team as TFBSO sought to restore Iraq’s industrial base in order to provide employment for the thousands of workers displaced by the shuttering of Iraq’s state owned enterprises after the overthrow of Sadaam Hussein in 2003.

IDB founder and President Bill Powell (L) and DUSD Paul Brinkley (R) with security team in Baghdad, Iraq 2007 (Photo: Institute for Defense and Business)

IDB has worked closely with TFBSO since the Task Force was formed in 2006. The IDB team helped recruit business leaders to travel to Iraq for Brinkley’s initial corporate delegations in 2007 aimed at generating investment in and demand for Iraqi products. IDB also provided manpower and administrative support in Iraq before TFBSO was fully staffed. Most significantly, though, it is IDB’s partnership with TFBSO since 2006 that made possible the development and delivery of 17 predeployment roundtable conferences for Army and Marine Corps units deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan. These roundtables, delivered by IDB’s Center for Stabilization and Economic Reconstruction (CSER), brought together the deploying unit’s command team with the civilian government, Non-Governmental Organization, International organization, and private sector actors engaged in stability operations in the unit’s area of responsibility.

IDB and CSER are proud to have supported TFBSO in its important work to bring stabilization and economic reconstruction to Iraq and Afghanistan. We also congratulate former DUSD Paul Brinkley for Warfront to Storefront, which is an excellent read!


If you’d like to learn more about the
Center for Stabilization and Economic Reconstruction,
please contact Amb. (Ret.) David C. Litt


DAELP Corporate Host of the Month: Raytheon (April 2014)

For the 11th cohort of the Depot and Arsenal Executive Leadership Program (DAELP), Residency 2 was a four-day defense industrial benchmarking tour in Louisville Kentucky, an integral piece of the DAELP curriculum.

After a late night at UPS Worldport, the Depot and Arsenal Executive Leadership Program participants filled their coffee cups and went to work on several Value Stream Analysis exercises hosted by Raytheon in Louisville, Kentucky. This two-day exercise served as the capstone of the Program’s second residency. Participants called upon knowledge gained during the industrial benchmarking tours and applied the theories they have been learning as a part of their Lean Six Sigma for Executive Champions online certificate program through North Carolina State University.

The capstone of DAELP XI cohort's defense industrial benchmarking tour in Louisville, KY was a two-day exercise in value stream mapping at RaytheonThe first day began with introductory briefs from Raytheon leadership in Louisville, followed by tours of the Warfighter Support Center and Missile Systems facilities.   The program participants were then divided into four groups, and began the exercises with walk-throughs of their various processes.  The groups briefed the results of their Value Stream Analyses to the Raytheon leadership, process managers, and other employees during the afternoon of the second day.

The interactions afforded by this unique two-day value stream analysis event proved mutually beneficial for both Raytheon and DAELP participants.

For each process, the DAELP teams produced a future state map, ideal state map, and a list of action items that process managers can implement in order to begin moving towards the ideal state.  Even though the teams only spent a day and a half on these exercises, Raytheon managers were impressed with the outcomes.

“This wasn’t just academia,” noted Vic Herbison, Program Manager for Spares Logistics Operations, highlighting that the DAELP team’s work delivered tangible benefits for his department.

Through the exercise, participants were able to hone their value-mapping skills and apply their knowledge of continuous process improvement. The dialogue with Raytheon helped them gain insight into the challenges that private sector companies face as well as discuss with private-sector leadership the challenges that the defense industry as a whole now faces.

It is exactly these interactions with organizations like Raytheon, with their dedication to innovation and collaboration, which allow the IDB program participants to turn theoretical principles into concrete, actionable skills.

For their hospitality and help with coordinating, sponsoring, and hosting the exercise, we owe a special thanks to:

Mr. Curtis Palmer, WSC Manager
Ms. Jessica Jackson, Site Administrator
Mr. Eric Bohnert, Logistics Manager
Mr. Vic Herbison, Program Manager
Mr. Sean Riley, Product Line Leader
Mr. John Packwood, Ops Excellence Manager