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A Room with a View (of Crucial Big Data Insights)

What’s the problem with Big Data? You guessed right — it’s BIG.

Big Data empowers organizations to discern patterns that were once invisible, leading to breakthrough ideas and transformed business performance. But there is simply so much of it, and from such myriad sources — customers, competitors, mobile, social, web, transactional, operational, internal, external, structured, and unstructured — that, for many organizations, Big Data is overwhelming. The torrents of data will only increase as the Internet of Everything spreads its ever-expanding wave of connectivity, from 10 billion connected things today to 50 billion in 2020.

So, how can organizations learn to use all of that data?

The key lies not in simply having access to enormous data streams. Information must be filtered for crucial, actionable insights, and presented to the right people in a visualized, comprehensible form. Only then will Big Data transform business strategies and decisions. In effect, Big Data must be made small.

However, as McKinsey & Co. reported, many organizations don’t have enough data scientists, much less ones who understand the business well enough to draw conclusions. The trick is to get the scientists together with the experts who understand the business levers driving the organization. Put them in a room with the right tools, and watch the synergy fly.

But what sort of a room?

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Embracing IoT? Security Must Be at the Core

November 25, 2013 at 6:00 am PST

Last month I attended a summit of subject matter experts on securing the Internet of Things (IoT). At first, I thought I had the wrong room, because it seemed that everybody other than me was an architect or engineer working for a device manufacturer, and as a result the conversation was dominated by placing security controls into the devices, themselves. In contrast, I tend to approach the issue from the perspective of protecting the core of the network. But just when I was beginning to think I had wasted an hour-long drive and was going to be bored out of my skull all day, a few of us started debating the issue and the conversation began to evolve.  Before long, we had found common ground in the fact that security controls are all about trust relationships -- ‘I trust you, therefore I will allow you to do that’.

Now trust is a funny thing, because by its very nature it can neither be one-sided nor one-dimensional. Instead, it must be built into every aspect of the transaction; a sort of “digital handshake” to ensure all is well before doing business. In other words, each of our pre-conceived perspectives was correct, yet we were all being stubborn and short-sighted! Read More »

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The Internet of Everything: Creating Better Experiences in Unimaginable Ways

Futurists have long envisioned a world where fabulous innovations transform our lives in mind-boggling ways. And while some of their ideas may remain far-fetched, the most exciting thing about their future is that so much of it is already here, today (flying cars notwithstanding).

Indeed, we are living in an age of unprecedented technological transformation, one that stands to eclipse even the first Internet boom. This next wave of change is being driven by a massive upsurge in connectivity, from 10 billion connected things today to 50 billion in 2020. The world may seem connected. But only 1 percent of the objects around you are endowed with smart connectivity. That is changing fast. Your car, your refrigerator, your parking space, the bridge you drive over, the shelves at the local retailer, and the supply chain that feeds them — all of these “dark assets” are being “lit up” with smart connectivity, altering our lives in profound ways.

Cisco calls this the Internet of Everything (IoE). We define IoE as the intelligent connection of people, process, data, and things. And, of course, the “people” element is paramount, since the whole point of technology is to create a better life experience for everyone.

At Cisco, we estimate the Value at Stake from this transformation to be $14.4 trillion for the private sector alone over the next 10 years, which represents an opportunity to increase global aggregate corporate profits by about 21 percent.

Cisco’s projections are based on deep research and analysis into potential use cases. But we are not the only ones sensing the potential impact of this game-changing, global transformation.

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The Internet of Everything Connects Customers to Shipping Logistics, One Package at a Time

The most wonderful time of year is upon us. With the holidays just around the corner, many will be crossing off wish lists by shopping via their laptop, tablet or smartphone. Last year I was one of those that waited until the last minute to shop for the holidays and by the time I arrived at the mall, there was virtually nothing left to buy for my nieces!  I had to fight for a parking spot and was exhausted after the first half hour!

A recent prediction from e-Marketer states that online and mobile spending will increase about 15.1% year over year this November and December, showing just how quickly the Internet of Everything is enabling more e-commerce spending than ever before.

Kathy EnglishWith this increase in anytime, anywhere online shopping, how are delivery companies meeting this influx in demand? How are they ensuring on-time deliveries? How are they lowering operating costs and expanding reach? Over the next few months – and coincidentally during the busiest shopping time of the year -- I’ll be discussing how advances in cloud and mobility are propelling the Internet of Everything and transforming the shipping industry. And this change is starting with the customer.

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The Internet of Everything: Where Technology and Innovation Meet To Make the World a Better Place

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.

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