Definition

machine data

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: IoT analytics guide: Understanding Internet of Things data
Contributor(s): Jack Vaughan

Machine data is digital information created by the activity of computers, mobile phones, embedded systems and other networked devices.  Such data became more prevalent as technologies such as radio frequency identification (RFID) and telematics advanced. More recently, machine data has gained further attention as use of the Internet of Things, Hadoop and other big data management technologies has grown. 

Application, server and business process logs, call detail records and sensor data are prime examples of machine data. Internet clickstream data and website activity logs also factor into discussions of machine data.

Combining machine data with other enterprise data types for analysis is expected to provide new views and insight on business activities and operations. For example, some large industrial manufacturers are analyzing machine data on the performance of field equipment in near-real-time, together with historical performance data, to better understand service problems and to try to predict equipment maintenance issues before machines break down.

Other examples of applications that center on the use of machine data include setups for monitoring oil and gas pipelines, natural disaster warning systems based on feeds from marine sensors, forecasting systems that take data from satellites and weather stations to help predict weather in small geographic areas, and a building energy management system that analyzes HVAC and elevator data to improve efficiency. Further use cases are likely to arise as emerging machine learning applications begin to mature.

This was last updated in December 2014

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