As a futurist and technologist, I’m an optimist. I view technology through the lens of how it can help people.
From this perspective, there is no better time to be alive than now. That’s because we are entering an era where the Internet has the potential to dramatically improve the lives of everyone on our planet—from accelerating the discovery of cures for diseases, to understanding climate change, to enhancing the way companies do business, to making every day more enjoyable.
Already, the Internet has benefited many individuals, businesses, and countries by improving education through the democratization of information, allowing for economic growth through electronic commerce, and accelerating business innovation by enabling greater collaboration.
So what will the next decade of the Internet bring?
From the Internet of Things (IoT), where we are today, we are just beginning to enter a new realm: the Internet of Everything (IoE), where things will gain context awareness, increased processing power, and greater sensing abilities. Add people and information into the mix and you get a network of networks where billions or even trillions of connections create unprecedented opportunities and give things that were silent a voice.
Cisco defines IoE as bringing together people, process, data, and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before—turning information into actions that create new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented economic opportunity for businesses, individuals, and countries.
Within this definition, an important aspect of IoE (and how it differs from IoT) emerges—the concept of “network effects,” on which my Cisco IBSG colleague James Macaulay has done a lot of work.
As more things, people, and data become connected, the power of the Internet (essentially a network of networks) grows exponentially. This thinking (“Metcalfe’s law”) comes from Robert Metcalfe, well-known technologist and founder of 3Com, who stated that the value of a network increases proportionately to the square of the number of users. In essence, the power of the network is greater than the sum of its parts, making the Internet of Everything, incredibly powerful.
Given the tremendous anticipated growth of the Internet over the next 10 years, it is critical for business and government leaders, as well as citizens, to begin preparing for what is to come. Here are some questions to get you started:
- How do I set priorities to match the opportunities that will exist in the connected world of IoE?
- Given the impact the Internet already has had on my business, what happens when new categories of things are connected at exponential rates?
- What are the potential benefits and risks of IoE for my business or government organization?
- How should organizations be structured around information and processes?
- How will governance, control, and responsibility change in an IoE world?
In my next blog, I will cover some of the ways IoE is already benefiting businesses, people, and governments, as well as how the Internet will be able to address some of humanity’s most pressing issues.
Let me know what you think. Is IoE just another buzzword, will it change the world, or is it somewhere in between?
You can also join the discussion at:
#IoE and #InternetofEverything