The ‘Internet of Everything’ will have colossal business, cultural impact

March 21, 2013 12:31 pm

The Internet of Everything (IoE) was a meta trend discussed at this week’s Cisco Connect event in Dubai. Delegates from around the region packed the conference suites of The Palm’s Atlantis hotel for a series of keynotes, announcements and to connect with Cisco executives.

There are, of course, already more things connected to the Internet than there are people in the world, but it will not be long before all devices will ‘wake up’ and we will see a new era of inter-connectivity. The Internet is not just expanding, it is also evolving.

Earlier this month the firm’s President of Development and Sales, Rob Lloyd, speculated that the value in developing this IoE stands at $14.4 trillion.

This figure is derived from a variety of benefits. The improved utilisation of all data and increased efficiency ($2.5 trillion), lowered expenses and improved employee productivity ($2.5 trillion), supply chain improvements ($2.7 trillion), cross-selling opportunities ($3.7 trillion) and innovation potential through research and development ($3 trillion).

Big data = big money

Cisco estimates the IoE could grow global corporate profits by 21% by 2022, and businesses in the region are realising that can translate to big money. Enterprises have an array of options for secure, flexible and scalable solutions, with the ability to mine and analyse huge volumes of data, though Cisco believes only 0.5% of data is currently being mined for value.

Storage already goes far beyond legacy archiving, and futurists are not just talking about business transformation, but are gauging the impact on society as a whole.

“The problem is not about building networks that are fast enough or data centres with enough capacity. The problem is different – the problem is cultural,” said Howard Charney, Cisco’s
Senior Vice President, Office of the President.

“Your existence will become synonymous with a set of definitions within the Cloud, and we have to become comfortable with this. We have to be comfortable with our existence being ethereal and security will become more important,” he said.

Charney referred to a maxim seemingly coined in Silicon Valley, the USA’s IT hot spot; the technology is the easy part. In this case, the hard part is society adjusting to huge shifts in technology. The primary example is technology becoming completely ubiquitous, and therefore invisible, as machines and telephony shrink down in size and could (in theory) become part of us.

This idea, known as the singularity, is a concept touted by author and futurist Ray Kurzweil, who was hired by Google last December as Director of Engineering. Kurzweil was in Abu Dhabi several months ago, delivering a presentation titled ‘what does the future look like?’ to a packed house at Manarat Al Saadiyat.

Aside from the issue of societal adjustment, which Charney believes to be the biggest dampener for the IoE phenomenon, the need for collaboration between the big telcos and technology giants is another major issue. While forming reluctant partnerships may slow down the IoE uprising, Charney views a ubiquitous internet as a total inevitability.

“A tremendous amount of collaboration is going have to occur, but that’s not actually as problematic as it might seem,” he explained.

“We sit around tables with people from other companies and talk about what standards we should write down to create systems which gracefully inter-operate. They’re doing that right now in the automotive industry. Getting Toyota, Mercedes Benz and General Motors to agree on anything is difficult – but, they absolutely have to.”