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IoT Meets Standards, Driving Interoperability and Adoption

For years, industrial control systems have been characterized by proprietary devices, protocols, communications, and applications. However, at the Hannover Fair last spring, virtually every exhibitor showed products that support IP, Ethernet, or Wi-Fi interfaces—something that would have been unthinkable just a decade ago.

The Internet of Everything (IoE) is driving this change, with an exponentially growing number of connections among people, process, data, and things. The Internet of Things (IoT) is a key enabler of this evolution. By 2020, according to Cisco’s analysis, there will be 50 billion connected devices—all needing a common way to work together.

As I discussed in my last blog, the worlds of Information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) are converging—and they are converging around standards. The good news is that the industry is recognizing that a fragmented, proprietary model does not scale, and inhibits the value of IoT deployments. The IoT standardization efforts are focused on four different areas: Read More »

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In the Digital Vortex, Disruption Blurs the Lines Between Industries

Recently, I spent a week in Asia with clients, partners, and our various teams. One of the most common themes I heard from clients is that the pace of disruption in today’s markets can be overwhelming. Yet, despite the speed and pace of change resulting from todays’ technology forces, most leaders recognized that the disruption also presents opportunity — and that cutting-edge innovation can provide the path to success amidst all the change.

Lately we’ve been looking at a new concept of how ideas constantly collide, combine, and reform, and how the disruption rate varies by industry. It’s an interesting topic and has yielded some fascinating insights. One of the areas we’ve unveiled involves what we call the “Digital Vortex” — and you can read more about it in this post by my partner Martin McPhee.

Out of that swirling, chaotic “Digital Vortex” comes game-changing innovations that upend existing business models and blur industry lines. It’s exciting, yes, but more than a bit unsettling, especially for industry incumbents.

However, I believe that even market incumbents can gain an edge by understanding the nature of the Digital Vortex in which they compete — along with the “combinatorial disruption” that redefines industries by combining and recombining value drivers such as cost, experience, and platform. Read More »

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IT Is from Venus, OT Is from Mars

Bringing Alien Worlds Together in the Internet of Things

In the 1990s, I, like millions of others, read the book Women Are from Venus, Men Are from Mars. This best-seller suggested that the frequent misunderstandings between genders make it seem as though men and women are from different, alien worlds. But it’s not just men and women who appear to be from different planets. Today, every organization that has begun an Internet of Things (IoT) deployment is bumping up against a fundamental disconnect between information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT). In many cases, these two groups are alien to one another—with separate technology stacks, network architectures, protocols, standards, governance models, and organizations.

In the first wave of the Internet, data and technology systems fell solidly in the realm of IT. IT systems focused on the flow of data across an organization, and with a few exceptions, did not get involved in production and logistics environments.

However, in many companies, a parallel organization—commonly called operational technology —has grown up to monitor and control devices and processes that act in real time on physical operational systems, such as assembly lines, electricity distribution networks, oil production facilities, and a host of others. Read More »

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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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