What will the future be like? As depicted in today’s popular movies and books, the future is either one of bright promise—where the world’s greatest problems have been solved by technology and greater human enlightenment—or it’s a dystopian world where today’s problems have only gotten worse, technology has gone bad, and the very survival of humanity is at risk.
As Cisco’s chief futurist, it’s my job to think about what the world will look like in a few years, and how our actions today will impact that future. And while I’m not ready to put on my rose-colored glasses just yet, I do have an optimistic view of what the future may bring, enabled by the Internet of Everything (IoE). Within 10 years, there will be 50 billion connected things in the world, with trillions of connections among them. These connections will change the world for the better in ways we can’t even imagine today. But here are just a few things I can imagine:
Better supply of food: Sensors all along the food supply chain, together with Big Data analytics and the intelligence of the cloud, will help us optimize the delivery of food from “farm to fork.” Sensors in the field will be combined with weather forecasts and other data to trigger irrigation and harvest times for each crop. And sensors on the food itself will alert merchants and consumers about when the “sell by” and “use by” dates are approaching to prevent spoilage. All of this will significantly reduce food waste—which today amounts to about one-third of total world food production.
Better supply of water: Similarly, about 30 percent of our water supply is lost due to leaks and waste. Just one faucet or leaky pipe dripping three times a minute will waste more than 100 gallons of water a year. “Smart” pipes can reduce this waste significantly by sensing and pinpointing the location of leaks that would otherwise go undetected for months or years.
Better access to education: Affordable access to education is one of the most important ways to lift people out of poverty. Soon, time and distance will no longer limit access to an engaging, affordable, high-quality education. With connection speeds going up, and equipment costs going down, distance learning is going beyond traditional online classes to create widely accessible immersive, interactive, real-time learning experiences.
Better access to healthcare: Urbanization and population growth are putting a strain on healthcare resources—especially in rural areas. After the devastating 2008 earthquake in Sichuan Province, China, Cisco was a strategic partner in creating a networked medical delivery system, including four telehealth networks that allow doctors to meet with and examine patients remotely. But those capabilities are just the beginning of what IoE will make possible. Soon, women with high-risk pregnancies will be able to wear a tiny, always-on fetal monitoring electronic “tattoo,” which will communicate to the cloud whenever the woman is within range of a wireless network. The analytics capabilities in the cloud will alert doctors at the first sign of trouble, and even tell the mother-to-be when she needs to drink more water, or get more rest.
While sensors and machine-to-machine communication are important parts of these solutions, it’s not just the “Internet of Things” that is making all of this possible—it’s the Internet of Everything—the networked connection of people, process, data, and things. And Big Data analytics is what brings the intelligence to all of these connections, enabling new kinds of processes, and helping us make smarter decisions.
I’ve highlighted just four areas where IoE will change the world for the better. But there is not a single part of life that will not be impacted in some way—whether that means improving your drive to work, speeding you through the checkout line at the grocery store, saving energy through smart lighting, or minimizing your wait at a traffic light. The Internet of Everything is not a silver bullet that can solve all the world’s woes, but with the spark of human innovation, IoE can be the engine for a better future.
Like many IT organizations, Cisco’s internal IT department is deploying Big Data solutions to mine the ever-increasing data in-flow from a wide range of sources – and thus gain competitive advantage and insights.
The typical environment includes an ecosystem of different tools and data sources that looks something like this (image courtesy of @TorstenVolk):
Source: EMA Research
Cisco IT realized that as the demand for analysis of this data increased, the demands on their infrastructure and Day 2 operations management would likely grow exponentially. So they knew that they needed an enterprise-grade workload automation solution that could manage processes involving Hadoop, MapR, Cloudera, Informatica, Teradata, SAP HANA, BusinessObjects, Tableau as well as other analytics applications, data feeds and repositories.
It’s hard to believe another calendar year is coming to an end less than 2 months. I’m amazed at the pace of which digital and social media continue to evolve and get excited when I think of what 2014 might bring in the way of further surprises.
This year Cisco held Data Virtualization Day 2013 at the New York Palace in New York City. With 350 attendees from more than 130 organizations, it marked the largest event to date and showcased data virtualization is top of mind for organizations as they try to extract more value out of their data.
Data Virtualization -- Different points of view
During the event, customers, analyst and Cisco executives gathered to share best practices, discuss trends driving data virtualization and provide insight into Cisco’s go-forward strategy to expand and accelerate data virtualization offers. Some highlights included:
Customers such as Goldman Sachs, BMO and British Sky Broadcasting shared insider’s views of their implementations, also explaining the significant profitability, agility, and risk management benefits their enterprises have achieved.
Top data virtualization analysts at Forrester and R20 Consultancy discussed data virtualization adoption acceleration as well as the business and technology trends behind it.
Looking ahead, Noel Yuahanna of Forrester described global information fabrics powered by data virtualization that integrate enterprise, partner, marketplace, social and line of business information fabrics to provide connected data anytime, anywhere. Rick van der Lans, R20 Consultancy, discussed how data virtualization along with powerful networks – which will allow data to stay where it is collected – will become the dominant data integration method.
Mike Flannagan, General Manager of Cisco’s Integration Brokerage Technology Group,discussed why Cisco chose to enter the data virtualization business and noted that the big data, cloud computing and “Internet of Everything” eras were making data virtualization a must have for Cisco’s customers.
Jim Green, General Manager of Cisco’s Data Virtualization Business Unit, presented his vision for data virtualization’s next generation and that achieving massive scale was the next frontier for data virtualization technology. He also discussed Cisco’s strategy to innovate using a unique mix of data virtualization, networking, and compute assets to meet this scale challenge.
Highlights from these presentations will soon be posted to our Data Virtualization Day resources page and the Cisco data virtualization offering page. So stay tuned.
“Dad, how many mobile phones were sold last year in the whole world?”
“Is this a trick question? Well, there are about 7 billion human beings on earth. Assuming every…”
“No, no—give me a number.”
“Well, I am not 100 percent sure. How many do you think were sold?”
“How do you know?”
“Dad—it’s on the Internet!”
My 10-year-old daughter left the room, triumphantly. I looked after her—admittedly feeling a little bit jealous. I wanted to be 10 years old again, too. I’d like to grow up with access to any information, available at any time, at the touch of a button. And this is only the beginning. Soon, tailored information will be provided to us proactively, before we even know what to ask for.
It’s easy to forget how incredibly rapid technological development has been. The true uptake of the Internet happened only about 15 years ago. Think about what would happen if your family had to spend an entire week without being connected to the Internet and the constant global interactions to which we have grown accustomed. The next ”big thing” is always around the corner, waiting to disrupt everything we take for granted today.
So what will be the next big thing in technology? This is a topic of endless debate on the Internet, at dinners with friends, and in the trade press, with the discussion often descending deep into the weeds of architectures, capabilities, protocols, and standards. However, for a business executive, the only thing that really matters is the business impact. The only relevant business question is ultimately, “How can I improve my business performance enabled by technology?”