“Software is Eating the World” is a quote attributed to Marc Andreessen and somewhat further explored by his business partner Ben Horowitz. Mark Andreessen gives compelling reasons to validate this quote. To some extend I have to agree with some of his reasons (but I am also a little bit biased as a software engineer). On the other hand, when I read this (and this is partly based on working in different domains on software), I wonder if software is that disruptive. If you look “under the hood” of software applications, you find that a lot of software is based on fundamental software principles that are already 20-30 years old, yet they are still frequently used (and for good reasons). That does not mean there are no new advances in software, however old and proven technologies still play an important role (like we say in mathematics, it does not become old, it becomes classic).
So maybe the reason that “Software is Eating the World” is due to the advances in hardware? Would you run modern enterprise applications in the Cloud 20 years ago? One of the challenges could certainly be the bandwidth. Was the IPhone a victory for software or hardware? A lot of the IPhone GUI was not that revolutionary IMO but the combination of hardware and software made for a potent technology disruption.
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.
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.
“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?”
Every morning, many of us have the same routine: the alarm goes off, we (reluctantly) get up and maybe hit the gym before showering and getting dressed. We gulp down a cup of coffee or bowl of cereal as we rush out the door to try and beat the traffic to work.
What if there was a better way? What if rush hour wasn’t so rushed? Picture leaving for work in your car one morning while it’s raining. As you begin your normal commute, a car half a mile ahead is involved in a fender bender due to the slick roads. Before the accident can snarl rush hour for everyone in the area, the connected network jumps into action. Safety systems on board the car involved in the accident automatically send alerts about airbag deployment so the network can pinpoint the reason for the delay and make an evaluation of the time it will take to clear the accident based on road assistance availability. Video surveillance allows 911 operators to quickly evaluate the seriousness of the situation – a two-car fender bender versus a multi-car pileup – and dispatch first responders or tow trucks accordingly.
As roadside help is on its way, the intelligent network synchronizes the traffic lights around the congested area to keep you and everyone else moving. Based on your new estimated time of arrival to the office, your calendar automatically updates, changing your first in-person meeting to a conference call via WebEx, instead, that you take from your cell phone in your car.
At the same time that you are rerouted around the accident scene, the transit authority automatically sends notifications through smartphone apps to riders citywide of delayed buses, offering alternate routes. But there is no rushing here – the transit authority talks to the alarm clocks, too, updating them to ring five minutes earlier. What if, on top of all those transit updates, your connected coffee machine updates, too, so that it makes you that cup of Joe as soon as the alarm goes off at the new time? That’s something I’d certainly appreciate!
The Internet of Everything is making these things possible. It is changing every aspect of our lives today – even the little things that we might not think about. Notifying commuters of traffic delays and offering alternate options can improve customer experiences and increase ridership. That can, in turn, reduce the number of cars stuck in traffic, improving the quality of the environment and even people’s health. People, process, data and things work together thanks to a unified framework approach, creating value for individuals and businesses alike.
Explore the interactive image above to learn more about the changes that IoE is making possible. And share your thoughts! Send me a tweet: @JimGrubb.