They’ll be a major contributor to a projected $150.8 billion global investment in “big data” and related business analytics, research firm IDC says.

Technology used for storing and analyzing huge amounts of data—including information generated by e-commerce and other forms of internet activity—will account for $150.8 billion of technology investment worldwide this year, up 12% from $134.6 billion in 2016, business and technology research firm IDC says in a study released yesterday.

Manufacturers, including both discrete and process manufacturers, and three other industries will account for almost half that $150.8 billion investment, or $72.4 billion, IDC says in a report, “Worldwide Semiannual Big Data and Analytics Spending Guide.” Discrete manufacturing involves the production of products that can be individually counted, such as automobiles, screws and refrigerators; process manufacturing involves the production of goods and materials in bulk quantities, such as oil and chemicals.

IDC’s report coincided this week with the launch of data management software from supply chain technology provider HighJump Inc. The software is designed to compile and analyze data from Internet of Things sensors embedded in products and shipping containers traveling through supply chains, in addition to data on order transactions in e-commerce and EDI systems. This enables manufacturers and their trading partners to receive updates on shipment status from the time a product is ordered until final payment. “We see companies using this to build relationships,” Sean Elliott, HighJump’s vice president of corporate technology, said in a brief interview at his company’s Elevate 2017 conference in Orlando today.

An IoT system differs from existing radio frequency identification tags in supply chains that rely on users to pull information from the RFID tags through tag readers placed at various points along a supply chain. IoT technology automatically sends data consistently from embedded sensors to cellular or satellite networks. Manufacturers and their customers that use HighJump’s EDI or e-commerce software and access its new data management software system can receive reports on such data as when an order was shipped, when it was received, and any interruptions along the way, Elliott said.

He added that HighJump’s new system also includes an analysis component designed to compile and analyze large amounts of such IoT data, combined with information on countless orders and payments processed in EDI or e-commerce systems. Users of the software can produce reports on such matters as order fulfillment performance for each of a company’s suppliers, the shipping performance of carriers, and payment records of customers.

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HighJump didn’t say how many companies it expects to begin using the new software, but IDC says such “big data” management technology is becoming commonly accepted.

“Big data and business analytics solutions have finally hit mainstream,” says Dan Vesset, IDC group vice president, analytics and information management. “BDA as an enabler of decision support and decision automation is now firmly on the radar of top executives. This category of solutions is also one of the key pillars of enabling digital transformation efforts across industries and business processes globally.”

Other industries making large investments in big data and business analytics are banking, government agencies and professional services, IDC says. Among those increasing spending on BDA at the highest growth rates are healthcare, telecommunications, insurance and investment services.

Among the benefits companies expect from deploying and using big data and business analytics are better understanding the interests and purchasing habits of customers and prospects, increasing customer acquisition and retention, and better planning and optimizing production.

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