It’s easy to take our connectedness for granted, isn’t it? We often don’t even think about all the innovation behind our connections, but it’s mind boggling when you actually consider just how much getting connected has revolutionized nearly every facet of life over the past two decades. Even more amazing is the fact that we’re just getting started. I like how Mary Meeker, in the most recent installment of her highly anticipated annual “Internet Trends” presentation, described it as still being in “spring training.”
It took us more than 20 years to get two billion people on the Internet, but estimates suggest the next two billion will connect to the network in less than half that time. And the growth of connected “things” is even more incredible. Sometime around 2009, the number of things connected to the Internet surpassed the number of connected people, at which point we began to experience what some call the “Internet of Things.”
There will be about 15 billion devices connected by 2015, and around 40 billion by 2020, according to the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group. But despite all these connections, we estimate that more than 99 percent of all physical objects that may one day join the network are currently still unconnected. Think about that – we’ve only just begun to connect the unconnected. What will happen when a full one percent of things are actually connected? When 10 percent get connected?
We are rapidly beginning to experience what we call the “Internet of Everything,” which includes the Internet of Things as a subset. Cisco Chief Futurist Dave Evans does a great job of describing the Internet of Everything in his blog series, but in simple terms, the Internet of Everything is the intelligent connection of people, process, data, and things on the network. One important enabler of the Internet of Everything is the network intelligence that fuels the manageability, controllability and scalability required to support this incredible growth in connections.
With each new person, process, piece of data, or thing that comes online, the connection possibilities between all these elements grows exponentially. The Internet of Everything makes all these connections more relevant and valuable. It’s not the act of getting connected – or even the number of connections – that creates the value. Rather, it’s the outcomes the connections make possible.
The proliferation of mobile networking and the evolution of the cloud play critical roles in the Internet of Everything, as does the development of IPv6. The rise of big data represents incredible value for those who are able to create the processes needed to extract value from data in motion and act on it instantly. As people and context-aware machines gain access to more actionable information, the result will be new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented value for individuals, businesses, communities and countries everywhere. The “network effect” of the Internet of Everything will be a very powerful thing, the true impact of which I believe we won’t fully understand for quite some time.
We acknowledge that there are very real risks and challenges inherent in the Internet of Everything. Maintaining security and protecting privacy in a hyper-connected world are just a couple of the complex challenges we face. But face them we must – the Internet of Everything is upon us. We should embrace it and resolutely influence its development toward positive outcomes for society.
The Internet of Everything will create economic value as well, and we believe it represents vast opportunities for businesses that effectively adapt to take advantage of it. I often talk about market transitions – I believe this will be the biggest transition we’ve ever experienced, making the initial build-out of the Internet truly feel like “spring training.”
The network is a vital necessity for every connection in the Internet of Everything, from the core to the edge to the cloud, which means it’s also an incredible opportunity for Cisco. We’ve been in the business of connecting the unconnected for more than 25 years, and – thanks in large part to working so closely with our customers and partners around the world – are uniquely positioned to help businesses, governments and other organizations best position themselves to maximize the value and positive benefits they capture from the Internet of Everything. In many ways, the development of the Internet of Everything is a unifying force, creating tighter and tighter connections between Cisco’s five foundational priorities: leadership in our core business (routing, switching, and associated services), which includes comprehensive security and mobility solutions; collaboration, including telepresence; data center virtualization and cloud; video; and architectures for business transformation.
We have the innovation engine, the talent and experience, the open dialog with customers, the world’s best ecosystem of partners and resellers, and the broadest portfolio of industry-leading networking solutions, services, and business architectures to back it up. The truth is, as big data, cloud computing, BYOD and mobility, and a new breed of software applications continue to shape the foreseeable future, networks will require ever more intelligence – not less – in order to effectively cope with the increased complexity. Creating order out of chaos is what Cisco does best, and frankly, we’ve never seen more business opportunities than we do today.
In the end, however, the Internet of Everything is bigger than Cisco – or any company, for that matter; it will require unprecedented cooperation between many companies and organizations. Ultimately, we believe that the success and impact of the Internet of Everything will be measured by the extent to which we’re able to harness it to benefit humanity. With this in mind, we couldn’t be more excited to see what the future holds. Tomorrow starts here.
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