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Number of Access Technologies and IoT Deployments Is Skyrocketing

Almost daily, I work with customers and partners as they develop strategies to gain competitive differentiation through innovative technology. One area bursting with change is the Internet of Things (IoT), which has grown more than threefold in number of deployments since 2012. This is the first in a series of blogs on technology and business factors to keep in mind while considering IoT, beginning with the explosion of IoT access technologies.

The first wave of the Internet focused on enabling human communication. Since the early 1990s, the number of connected devices has skyrocketed from around 1 million personal computers to 15 billion networked devices today. As more and more devices enter the picture, we are developing the key building blocks for the next big wave of the Internet, called the Internet of Everything (IoE)—the networked connection of people, process, data, and things. IoT is a major enabler of IoE, connecting sensors, machines, and other devices.

By 2020, there will be as many as 50 billion connected devices—including cars, buses, trains, office buildings, factories, oil rigs, homes, and entire cities. Some are stationary, some mobile, some have IP addresses, some don’t, some are always on, some intermittent, some are clustered together, some geographically dispersed. This diversity is driving a proliferation of access technologies to connect them. No longer limited to Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and 3G/4G, IoT deployments today also include satellite, Bluetooth LE, Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technologies such as LoRa, Power Line Communication (PLC), and various Wireless Personal Area Networks (WPAN) such as Wi-SUN. Which technology is best for each situation depends on several criteria: Read More »

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Digital Transformation in the Oil & Gas Industry: “Drill, Data, Drill!”

“Drill, baby, drill” makes for an easy mantra when it comes to energy exploration, but the oil and gas (O&G) industry moved past simply drilling long ago with the introduction of digital information processing. For example, integrated production modeling was introduced in the 1970s. With the recent turmoil in the energy industry, the stakes are even higher for O&G companies to work smarter and more efficiently. Forward-looking businesses are making the transition to true digital transformation, which requires the adoption of the Internet of Everything (IoE)—the networked connection of people, process, data, and things—throughout the entire O&G value chain. According to a recent Cisco study, of these four IoE elements, essential “data” is the component most in demand—and the element that needs the most improvement.

Survey respondents identified “data” as the area of IoE they need to improve most to drive insight and value.

Survey respondents identified “data” as the area of IoE they need to improve most to drive insight and value.

However, in many cases it’s not data that’s lacking; O&G firms are awash in data generated by sensors and machines spread throughout their far-flung operations. The struggle comes in capturing real-time operating data closest to the point it’s created, analyzing it in real-time and applying the results to improve functional and business capabilities. To capitalize on the wide range of data IoE generates, O&G firms must overcome three key challenges:

  • Automating the collection of data
  • Integrating data from multiple—and often far-flung—sources
  • Analyzing data to effectively identify actionable insights

Read More »

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At the Center of the Digital Vortex: Chaos, Disruption, and Opportunity

The only thing that remains constant is change.

It’s an old adage. While it has always been true, it’s especially relevant now. Today’s pace of technology change is akin to a vortex, relentlessly and chaotically sweeping everything into its spiral path, demanding digitization. As with a real vortex, the force of this change is too strong to ignore and those objects (or business models) that fail to adapt will break apart and fall away.

Indeed, digital disruption has the potential to overturn incumbents and reshape markets faster than perhaps any force in history. Organizations that do not drive their own digital business transformation will be left behind. Those that do will be pulled toward a “digital center” in which business models, offerings, and value chains are digitized driving new revenue streams and substantive business outcomes.

Developing New Business Models for the Digital Age from Cisco Business Insights

 

The driver behind this pace of disruption is the Internet of Everything (IoE), the networked connection of people, process, data, and things. Cisco projects these connections to surge from 15 billion today to some 50 billion by the end of the decade. IoE is sowing disruption, certainly — but it is a force for disruption and creation. With a total Value at Stake of $19 trillion from 2013 to 2022, IoE represents a profound market transition — and opportunity.

Read More »

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Disrupt or Be Disrupted: Industrial Internet of Everything at Cisco Live

I just returned from Cisco Live and the vibe was incredible. We had over 25,000 customers attend this event and additional partners and Cisco employees that pretty much took over San Diego. I had the pleasure of spending most of my time in the Connected Factory Experience Manufacturing vignette, as part of the industry stories in the World of Solutions part of the conference. This was truly the biggest business area in a key vertical for Cisco. During this time frame, I was able to speak with about 200 customers and the resounding feedback was that we are spot on with IoT, IoE and Business Outcomes. We had demonstrations in the World of Solutions that revolved around industrial use cases including security and analytics.

In customer meetings, manufacturers were looking for guidance on where to start with the Internet of Everything and Industrial IoT. In fact, John Chambers’ farewell keynote which focused on the messages of ‘Disrupt your industry or be disrupted’ resonated well with attendees. There was a strong, consistent theme of change, disruption, connecting your company and connecting your world as well as how Cisco can help. I also felt more of a sense of urgency for network and IT managers and professionals to be more engaged with the lines of business. Everyone understands that being more creative, disruptive and closer to the business positions IT to be integral to meeting industrial imperatives.

We have been working with quite a few customers to start their IoT journey. Despite IoT being a relatively recent trend, we have been working with a very innovative food manufacturing company in the Midwest who is embarking on a new facility and wanted to build the “factory of the future” or “digital Factory” and fully embraced Cisco to help them down this journey. While it is a bit easier with a green field or brand new factory, there are still issues with identification and starting pilot projects. Read More »

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Mitigating Security Threats in Manufacturing with Cisco’s Connected Factory

Today’s manufacturing industry faces an aging industrial machinery infrastructure that presents huge security challenges poised for continued growth in the coming months and years. Increasingly, manufacturers are beginning to view data security as a top barrier to realizing the value of the Internet of Everything (IoE). In fact, the steady growth of the IoE is creating efficiencies and cost savings across the entire value chain, presenting a $3.9 trillion value opportunity for manufacturers. However, this exponential growth of connections and integration between people, processes, data, and things also presents added security risks and threats that are often complex and multifaceted.

Here are a few of the implications and impacts of security breaches for manufacturers:

  • Theft or Loss of proprietary or confidential information and intellectual property
  • Downtime in factories and lost productivity – potentially very severe
  • Violation of regulatory requirements
  • Loss of public confidence and brand
  • Economic loss
  • Impact on national security

According to Symantec, the manufacturing business sector was the most targeted in 2013, accounting for 24% of all targeted attacks. Of those attacks, industrial networks topped the list of systems most vulnerable to cybersecurity issues. Additionally, the number of attacks on industrial supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems doubled from 2013 to 2014. Unfortunately for manufacturers, 91% of breaches took just hours or less to perpetrate, yet more than 60% of attacks took months – or even years – to detect. This considerable gap gives cyber attackers plenty of opportunities to access a manufacturer’s trade secrets and sensitive production data.

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