If you’ve been following my past blogs and presentations, you’ve heard me talk about “Data in Motion.” That’s the catch-all term used to describe the swelling flood of data that is at maximum value while still in motion (and often at that fleeting moment in which it is created). Data in Motion requires rapid, real-time response in order to provide actionable insights at the right place and at the right time. Done right, it can be evaluated in meaningful ways that lead to knowledge and wisdom. But even a slight delay in reacting to it can mean the data loses its value.

Data in Motion is a completely different animal than the persistent, static “data at rest” that is the subject of Big Data today. And, so far, Data in Motion has gone largely untapped. Retailers could tap Data in Motion to send targeted alerts and promotions in real time to shoppers. Healthcare providers could use it to remotely monitor patients in their homes. Manufacturers could harness it for process monitoring and control. My friend Rick Smolan and I recently shared some inspiring examples of how Data in Motion and data in general have changed people’s lives. If you haven’t already seen it, you can watch our conversation here.

for Cisco2[11][1]As I’ve mentioned before, much of this Data in Motion is generated by the growing armies of sensors that make up the Internet of Everything (IoE). A recent study by Cisco, the IoE Value Index survey, estimates that IoE is already poised to generate at least $613 billion in global corporate profits during calendar year 2013. So the Internet of Everything is clearly not the Internet of tomorrow, it’s the Internet of today.

With so much value at stake both now and in the future, many executives are asking two key questions: How do you actually extract the value of Data in Motion? And what does the infrastructure you need to do so look like?

To add to my earlier post on IoE, here are four main points IT executives should consider.

First off, you need to take a systems approach. With a systems approach comes the intelligence, convergence, visibility and security that will ultimately enable you to unlock the value that resides in Data in Motion and the Internet of Everything. A systems approach can only be achieved through standardization and interoperability, which break down proprietary barriers and allows data to flow among people, processes and things.

Next, you need a new model for next-generation IT—meaning a model that enables applications to access resources and extract data from both the network and sensors automatically and in real-time. This new model unifies and simplifies the management of computing, network and security resources so that applications can react to data in motion as it traverses the network.

Third, data needs to be virtualized—just as we have virtualized computing, storage, networking and security. Applications and sensors have to be able to access data in real time anywhere without having to copy large amounts of data over the network. Our recent acquisition of data virtualization leader Composite Software represents that layer of abstraction, allowing data to be made available and used anywhere on the network where it’s needed.

Last but not least, security is of paramount importance. This is especially true for Data in Motion, where data needs to be protected in real time and intrusions need to be detected as rapidly as possible, before irreparable damage occurs. Malware attacks such as the infamous Stuxnet worm can threaten power plants and factories by interrupting important sources of data. Security at the point of collection, analysis and use, and at all points in between is critical in detecting threats and protecting the infrastructure against intrusion and tampering.

For more information on this topic and for more examples of Data in Motion in a variety of industries—from retail and healthcare to service providers, energy and manufacturing—check out this new, social white paper from Cisco: “Increase the Value and Relevance of Data in Motion”.