The power of connectivity is driving change at an unprecedented rate, fueled exponentially by technology. According to Cisco’s latest Visual Networking Index (VNI), over half a billion mobile devices and connections were added in 2013 and, by the end of 2014, the number of connected devices will exceed the number of people on the planet. And as mobile network connection speeds double by 2018, it will become easier and faster to increase the number of your connections, as well as how you use them.
Not only is everything (and everyone) getting connected – but those connections are getting smarter. It’s making us redefine what it means to be connected and moving us to see the world through a different lens. It’s about more than just creating connections -- the user experience is now the new benchmark.
The experience starts with you. Self-tracking is a growing trend, with wearable devices and embedded computing becoming more and more pervasive in our daily lives. This is what’s driving the quantified self movement, defined as “an advanced way of collecting data about an individual’s life using technological tools.” I’ve been using activity-tracking devices for some time and currently own all of the most popular brands, so I can personally attest to the power of information and how it’s changed my behavior as a result. A quick glance at my wrist, for example, offers a plethora of data that helps me decide whether to walk to a meeting or perhaps take a cab – with the ultimate goal of keeping me on track to stay fit and healthy. And by gamifying the results with award badges and fun animations, these devices can also help motivate you in attaining your goals. I’m not alone in this quantified self quest -- 90 million wearable devices are expected to ship in 2014, with health and fitness wearables being the key driver.
Up in the mornin’ and out to school
The teacher is teachin’ the Golden Rule
American history and practical math
You study’ em hard and hopin’ to pass
Chuck Berry’s old hit “School Days” sums up an educational model that has persisted since the 1800s — if not since Aristotle. Students and their classmates sit within the same walls and absorb rote knowledge from one teacher at a time. And woe to those who fail to show up for the morning bell or to follow the lesson plan!
But if you think your own school days are a model for the future, get ready for a whole new lesson plan. Just as the Internet of Everything (IoE) is disrupting so many other areas of our lives (not to mention business models), its ever-expanding wave of network connectivity promises to upend education as well.
After all, when people, process, data, and things are linked in startling new ways, radical transformation follows. Within the context of learning, the very definition of schools, students, teachers, and classrooms is being challenged. Now, your classroom is wherever you happen to be, and your lessons take place when you want them — all thanks to a convergence of IoE cornerstones such as mobility, media-rich collaboration tools, cloud, and analytics.
Cisco predicts that the IoE Value at Stake will be $4.6 trillion for the public sector worldwide over the next decade. Of that total, $258 billion in value will come from Connected Education.
What if you had a “virtual doctor” who was available at any time—24x7—to give you a quick checkup, dispense friendly health advice, and even alert you to possible health problems before they become serious? What if your parents or grandparents got a gentle daily reminder to take their medication, so they would never have to worry about missing a dose? What if you could walk into any emergency room in the country and receive exactly the care you need because the hospital has instant access to all your medical records? While much of this may seem futuristic, it will become reality in a future not that far away.
Big Data and analytics are transforming healthcare as we know it. Let me share a few examples:
1. Patient care
Many healthcare providers are stretched to capacity, and can’t always follow up with patients to see how they’re doing and make sure they are following medical advice. Today, we are beginning to see pills with tiny ingestible sensors that send a message to your doctor or to a loved one to confirm that you have taken the pill—giving peace of mind to worried children of elderly parents, or anyone who needs to take medication at a specified time. In the future, these sensors will likely also be able to report whether the medicine results in the right impact, and to suggest a change of dose or even a different medication, if that is appropriate.
A high-risk pregnancy is a constant source of worry for many women. In the near future, small electronic “tattoos” will provide nonstop fetal monitoring through a sticker worn right on the skin. Wireless communications capabilities will send vital signs directly to the cloud, where Big Data and analytics capabilities can evaluate the information and send appropriate alerts to the mother and her doctor.
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.
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:
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.
This mind-bending chart that details different horizontals, verticals, and building blocks to help you explore and examine the evolution of IoE.