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Big Data: Not Just Big, but Fast and Smart, Too

I am attending South Korea’s Big Data Forum in Seoul, and one question here is, “How big is Big Data?” My friend and colleague Dave Evans has pointed out that by the end of this year, more data will be created every 10 minutes than in the entire history of the world up to 2008. Now, that’s big!

Much of this data is being created by billions of sensors that are embedded in everything from traffic lights and running shoes to medical devices and industrial machinery—the backbone of the Internet of Things (IoT). But the real value of all this data can be realized only when we look at it in the context of the Internet of Everything (IoE). While IoT enables automation through machine-to-machine (M2M) communication, IoE adds the elements of “people” and “process” to the “data” and “things” that make up IoT. Analytics is what brings intelligence to these connections, creating endless possibilities.

To understand why, let’s step back and take a look at the classic approach to Big Data and analytics. Traditionally, organizations have tended to store all the data they collect from various sources in centralized data centers. With this model, if a retailer wants to know something about the buying patterns of a certain store’s customers, it can create an analysis of loyalty card purchases based on data in the data warehouse. Collecting, cleansing, overlaying, and manipulating this data takes time. By the time the analysis is run, the customer has already left the store.

Big Data today is characterized by volume, variety, and velocity. This phenomenon is putting a tremendous strain on the centralized model, as it is no longer feasible to duplicate and store all that data in a centralized data warehouse. Decisions and actions need to take place at the edge, where and when the data is created; that is where the data and analysis need to be as well. That’s what Cisco calls “Data in Motion.” With sensors gaining more processing power and becoming more context-aware, it is now possible to bring intelligence and analytic algorithms close to the source of the data, at the edge of the network. Data in Motion stays where it is created, and presents insights in real time, prompting better, faster decisions.

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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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My IoE World: Starting the Day Fit and Connected

Introduction

It’s mind-boggling to see the speed at which people, process, data, and things are becoming more and more connected. The Internet of Everything (IoE) world is already happening.  But what does that world really look and feel like in our daily lives?  How are our everyday experiences changing as a result? How is it helping us attain our goals and desired outcomes?

To answer these questions, we need to take a step back to understand a few critical elements.  First, IoE is coming at us like a freight train, but it may not be evident because it’s happening in silos and with very specific technologies and applications.  To appreciate how much activity is going on in this space, it’s critical to begin looking at the IoE landscape in specific segments. Here are two things that can help:

  1. A video of an interview I conducted with Rick Smolan, author of “The Human Face of Big Data,” in which Rick provides some great insights and examples of life in a connected world.
  2. This mind-bending chart that details different horizontals, verticals, and building blocks to help you explore and examine the evolution of IoE.

ThingLink

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Secure BYOD for Midsize Businesses

The Internet of Everything will connect 50 billion things by 2020.

Your midsize business needs to stay ahead of potential security risks.

Are you ready?

Previously, I wrote about the importance of driving success for midsize businesses. Today I am focusing on security and BYOD for midsize companies.

Are you fully aware of all of the people and devices on your network? Has your business begun implementing BYOD? Read More »

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Customer Collaboration and the Internet of Everything

Those who read this blog regularly know that Customer Collaboration combines traditional contact center technology and processes with important innovations in social media, Web 2.0 agent workspaces, network-based recording and analytics, and video to empower businesses to forge deeper, proactive, more consistent relationships with their customers.  Three years ago, Cisco identified Customer Collaboration as a major market disruption, and our customers have benefitted from our leadership through this disruptive time.

More recently, Cisco identified another market disruption–the Internet of Everything (IoE)–which Cisco defines as the networked connection of people, processes, data, and things.  The true benefit of the IoE is derived from the compound impact of connecting all these elements–with a majority of the value derived by extending the connections of the IoE to people.

So what’s the relationship between Customer Collaboration and the IoE?  Simply put, Customer Collaboration connects the Internet of Everything to consumers.  Many of the touchpoints to the IoE run through businesses, and Customer Collaboration is what brings businesses and organizations closer to their customers–to us.  Let me provide some examples of how Customer Collaboration can connect consumers to the IoE:

Consider Amy, Read More »

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