It seems customary around the December time frame to look back over the year and chart the highlights and successes. The challenge with doing that for a programme like Cisco British Innovation Gateway (BIG) is there are so many areas that one could review.
That said, the key highlight for me has to be the opening of the fantastic Innovation and Digital Enterprise Alliance London or IDEALondon a facility that Cisco recently opened in partnership with University College London, and DC Thomson, in the heart of Shoreditch. The team behind IDEALondon have done a fantastic job in creating a location that provides a welcoming and collaborative space for start-ups and entrepreneurs to develop and grow. I strongly believe, based on the evidence of what I have seen already, that we are going to see a number of the individuals and companies come out of the facility go onto make a big, positive impression within the UK economy.
Despite only having been open for a couple of months now, a number of great events have already taken place there, including the second year of the Cisco BIG Awards. Having been involved in the initial judging stages of both years, it has been interesting to see the difference in the ideas coming through. This year, for example, there have been a lot more ideas focused on the Internet of Everything, an industry that offers huge potential. Today, there is something in the region of 15 billion devices (give or take a billion or two) or things connected to the network. By 2020, it is expect that we will have something in the region of 50 billion devices connected.
While some of that will be the continuing growth of the tablet and smartphone market for example, it will also be the acceleration of devices that where previously unconnected to the network. Examples of those at the more extreme end of the Internet of Everything that have hit the news recently have been the connected wig and the connected fork. While both of these ideas actually have a lot of merit once you look beyond the initial, potentially comical, concept, the reality is that there are some macro economic challenges that society and governments around the world are having to contend with over the coming years that the Internet of Everything can help address. One example of such a macro economy challenge is the increasing aging population in the UK and the pressure that will put on to the existing healthcare infrastructure. A good example of that would be the winner of the 2013 Cisco BIG awards, uMotif, a cloud based, self managed health application that can be accessed via a smartphone or web browser.
UMotif plans to white label the platform to healthcare providers, GP surgeries, hospitals, nutritionists and care homes. This, combined with NHS England and the government’s call for open data, will provide a key enabler in one of the real benefits, not so much from the connection itself, but from the data it produces, or the ‘big data’. The massive amount of unstructured data that will be available, providing us with insight and knowledge we never thought possible before.
For me, one of the reasons I find the vision of the ‘Internet of Everything’ so exciting is the fact that this is an opportunity for organizations big and small, to help develop an evolving landscape, one that will truly transform the world around us, and one that offers BIG potential.