How the Internet of Everything Will Change the World…for the Better #IoE [Infographic]

November 7, 2012 - 51 Comments

As a futurist and technologist, I’m an optimist. I view technology through the lens of how it can help people.

From this perspective, there is no better time to be alive than now. That’s because we are entering an era where the Internet has the potential to dramatically improve the lives of everyone on our planet—from accelerating the discovery of cures for diseases, to understanding climate change, to enhancing the way companies do business, to making every day more enjoyable.

Already, the Internet has benefited many individuals, businesses, and countries by improving education through the democratization of information, allowing for economic growth through electronic commerce, and accelerating business innovation by enabling greater collaboration.

So what will the next decade of the Internet bring?

From the Internet of Things (IoT), where we are today, we are just beginning to enter a new realm: the Internet of Everything (IoE), where things will gain context awareness, increased processing power, and greater sensing abilities. Add people and information into the mix and you get a network of networks where billions or even trillions of connections create unprecedented opportunities and give things that were silent a voice.

Cisco defines IoE as bringing together people, process, data, and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before—turning information into actions that create new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented economic opportunity for businesses, individuals, and countries.

Within this definition, an important aspect of IoE (and how it differs from IoT) emerges—the concept of “network effects,” on which my Cisco IBSG colleague James Macaulay has done a lot of work.

As more things, people, and data become connected, the power of the Internet (essentially a network of networks) grows exponentially. This thinking (“Metcalfe’s law”) comes from Robert Metcalfe, well-known technologist and founder of 3Com, who stated that the value of a network increases proportionately to the square of the number of users. In essence, the power of the network is greater than the sum of its parts, making the Internet of Everything, incredibly powerful.

Given the tremendous anticipated growth of the Internet over the next 10 years, it is critical for business and government leaders, as well as citizens, to begin preparing for what is to come. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • How do I set priorities to match the opportunities that will exist in the connected world of IoE?
  • Given the impact the Internet already has had on my business, what happens when new categories of things are connected at exponential rates?
  • What are the potential benefits and risks of IoE for my business or government organization?
  • How should organizations be structured around information and processes?
  • How will governance, control, and responsibility change in an IoE world?

In my next blog, I will cover some of the ways IoE is already benefiting businesses, people, and governments, as well as how the Internet will be able to address some of humanity’s most pressing issues.

Let me know what you think. Is IoE just another buzzword, will it change the world, or is it somewhere in between?

You can also join the discussion at:

#IoE and #InternetofEverything

In an effort to keep conversations fresh, Cisco Blogs closes comments after 60 days. Please visit the Cisco Blogs hub page for the latest content.


  1. Great article! I am waiting for your next topic on how IoE has benefited us.

  2. Dave,

    I like the diagram as it addresses one of the issues that I think will be huge at the IoE evolves – Process!

    Learning from my background in network management, it becomes immediately apparent that the IoE will not be about putting humans in the middle of all of this, but instead humans will be at the periphery. It seems that the systems that will succeed (including hopefully my new company) will be working to create process automation that *removes* humans from the system.

    I like how you have placed the human involvement as a smaller portion of the resulting solution. It’s great to see Cisco jumping into this space, as I have actually been applying concepts from Cisco’s early days in the creation of an IoE solution. I’ll look forward to seeing how I might integrate into a large offering from Cisco!

    (Off to read your follow-up post now!)

  3. thank you, it is good artcle can give addtion knowledge for me, good luck

  4. Cool post, this was a really interesting read!!!

  5. Great article! Been looking for something that explained this internet chaos with a non-chaos graphic. One of the biggest complaints I get from my social media clients – is that everything is so overwhelming! I don’t see it getting any less complex for those not-very-good computer users. In fact, for those of us who are online, things are getting even more diluted with the competition .

  6. Hi Dave,
    Indeed a promise of a better future for all of us. Inspiring!
    Can one assume that the sensors and technology used to grow the number of connections will reach not only developed countries but also de developing ones during the “next decade”?

    • Thanks. In some cases developing countries may leapfrog developed countries with sensors, etc., as they have less legacy to deal with. (We see this in some cases with wireless technology today).

  7. Hi Dave,
    Very nice blog. I think IoE is THE next thing. But has internet really matured to that age? Do we have enough processing/data transfer power to make it happen?

  8. Great article. For me, I realise that the internet truly is everything whenever the router in our house fails! This is when you realise how much you really do rely on it!

  9. Great introduction to the concept of IoE. This has far reaching implications, at the technology level, at the architecture level and at the social level, but let me make a _down to the earth_ networking technology remark.
    The Network of Everything requires underlying Networking technology that can scale to unprecedented level, and one that will provide an end-to-end (one would call it flat, or non fragmented) connectivity model.
    Irrespective on how you connect theses things/people/data, a VERY scalable network layer, is the only way all things can be addressed, auto-configured, be reachable, and actively participate to the Internet of Everything.
    THAT is spelled IPv6.
    The current underlaying network layer technology (IPv4) we have enjoyed and build the Internet on, over the last 30 years is totally running out of steam.
    IPv4 will clearly NOT cut it, for this type of applications.
    Yet, for a variety of reasons I will not detail here, the deployment of IPv6 has been slow.
    The Internet community has to accelerate IPv6 deployment, building on early successes (see in order to deliver an infrastructure that will enable “everything” to participate in the Internet of the next generations.
    Else…there will be a lot of disenfranchised people/things/data. The internet of everything will turn to a (fragmented) Internet of Few.

    What have you enabled IPv6 on today ?

  10. Very nice info and intriguing.

    and this is so true.
    “Internet has the potential to dramatically improve the lives of everyone on our planet”

    I enjoyed reading this, thanks.

  11. Dave!
    Thanks a ton for the fantastic article. Really great thought as we are stepping into the world of technology where Internet is becoming omnipresent.
    Kudos to your observation and optimism. I fully agree with you.

    Ashish K Amit

  12. Interesting article. If we take this to the extreme will we make any decisions or just let connected things which remember and know about ourselves make decisions on our behalf? will we become more enlightened as we don’t have to worry about the mundane and can concentrate on the challenging and interesting.

    I hope the latter

  13. Interesting subject. Some of the key factors in user buy in that I can see are ease of use, ease of access, interconnectivity and as mentioned in both your article & some of the comments are intelligent & simple design.

    I can indeed see the day coming when my shopping cart will be able to tap into my household inventory and suggest items that I am out of or low on.

    Until that day arrives, I will have to rely on old fashioned pen and paper, or a simple to do list software on my smartphone.


  14. hmmmm.. great to hear the technology growing in such a rapid fast manner!!!! but one have to see the major threat of being world become internet-centric. people tends to behave as robots as he can be controlled by some other things. Thus the robots become getting increasing not the humans and their intrinsic values. IoE have more security threats and breaches than its own advantages. So more care should be taken care about security issues and keeping the human as human!!!!! not as robots!!!

  15. I forgot to mention, Dave, I found this post through Al Kurzweil’s site:

    Fitting, yes?


  16. Dave,

    Thanks for the intriguing post, and thanks to all for the great comments and responses.

    Yes, #IoE is certainly not a buzzword. It’s already a reality in many ways, particularly in the #SmartGrid rollout. The environmental and human rewards from that will be immense, perhaps even life/world saving.

    Yes, I’m one for melodrama but I don’t think I’m too far off the mark in relating how technology can/must save the world from our poisonous, inefficient #dumbgridless way of life.

    Great discussion.

  17. Yes ioe will have improve have bring benefited individuals, businesses, and countries by improving education through the democratization of information, allowing for economic growth through electronic commerce, and accelerating business innovation by enabling greater collaboration.

  18. Dear Dave

    I eager to see next blogs on this topic, it was really interesting,

    One point that always conveys through my mind is about simplicity and complexity toward the trend of internet life, my preoccupation is , human beings needs to reduce the elements of daily life, instead of managing different factors, to sense more the quality of life, I wonder to know if IoE would help this?


  19. Can you give us some concrete examples of where this will be useful?
    Steve Atkinson mentions security, marketing/advertising, and financial solutions, by which I assume he means internet-connected payments, price labels and so on.
    I can think of internet coffee machines, crop irrigation meters, air pollution, traffic monitors and so on, and of course ever-more ubiquitous communications.
    To me these are far from revolutionary. we already have most of them in one form, or another, and while putting them on the internet may add convenience and reduce cost, and make a great sales opportunity, I can’t see a transformative impact.

  20. Great post. Very interesting! I just hope the generations after us don’t get lost in technology and forget their roots…

    Someday I will be able to tell my grandchildren “I was born before the Internet”… I can’t wait to see the look on their faces!

  21. Recently discovered this blog. Very nice info. Thanks

  22. Interesting theory. Two categories seem evident in response

    Must have tech topics for implementation of IoE: advanced nano technology for WiFi & compu processing, better batteries or alternate power delivery, better security protocols, and guaranteed redundancy.

    Social topics to consider: while we will be connected greater virtually, I suspect we will be less inclined to connect physically; will we continue to rely less on face-to-face interaction; and what if we invest too much in the Internet for our daily lives and then loose our connection, will we be lost?

    These thoughts are not meant as detractors, rather as values in the equation to improve the resulting “product.”

    • Chad, great observation. I often find myself saying “don’t let connectivity be an excuse for connecting.”

      Connectivity let’s us reach out and communicate to people in ways that would have been impossible just a few short years ago. It’s is a tremendous capability, but it should be an addition, not a replacement for face to face.

  23. Moving beyond Smart Phones and ‘pads,’ there is a general belief that the Internet of Things (IoT) will shape a newer “information society” and “knowledge economy.” However, there are fundamental technological barriers that are attenuating the transition from the present “Internet of PCs” towards an “Internet of Things” (IoT) in which 50 to 100 billion devices might be connected to the Internet by 2020. The primary reason the ‘thing’ ecosystem will remain largely unrealized is the lack of an intelligent network infrastructure to support it. Such an infrastructure requires new Internet software architecture and an underlying applicative design methodology to transform connected objects into real actors at scale.

    The manner in which software is developed hasn’t fundamentally changed since the 1960s. Character string-based programming languages have ruled computer science, but even the latest dialects such as Go and Dart are not likely to materially improve software productivity or enable a broad population to participate in the IoT systems creation process. Now after several thousand dialects, we can reasonably ascertain that legacy computer science will not produce the exponential improvements needed to manage the overwhelming interoperability, contextualization and security challenges of global scaling.

    The orchestration of a paradigm shift is essential if the software industry is to ever become at least as innovative and productive as the hardware industry, which is following Moore’s Law. A new software science approach needs to be established to meet the requirements for the emerging IoT of unattended devices. Such a ‘clean slate’ approach must extend processor architecture ecosystems up through the software layers in a holistic manner to greatly simplify the build-out of the IoT.

  24. Agreed. But what do you see as we get older and less adaptive?

  25. dear evans,
    thanks for the sharing useful information with us easy to learn and easy to understand..

  26. Dave,

    thanks for your view on the IoE. One development that surely propels the IoE is IPv6. But do you have any ideas or sources about the overlap of IoE and the DNS (extension) via new generic TLDs?


  27. Great post Dave, on the technical front it underscores the importance of a transition to ipv6 and the increasingly ubiquitous nature of the browser as an interface to . Because this is where we’re heading and these are some of the pivotal shifts that will take us there.

    One other aspect I’ve been dwelling on lately is the shift in security focus that this has brought about – Previously the default position was to start with a system that was fully inaccessible, then identify specific use-cases where it needed opening up and making the minimum changes to enable this. Now, with systems that are based on common standards of interaction and pinned to robust identity systems, the default position shifts to ‘What reasons would I have to lock this system away’ and the conversation begins from that.

    Cheap, ubiquitous network access is of course a major part of this puzzle which is why the continued development of the Internet is such an important topic to continue to fight for on the political, social and commercial fronts.

    The impact of this shift is readily apparent – Look how many public APIs are cropping up and check out the amazing uses people are finding for them. Google Maps, ManyEyes and Twitter are the biggest examples of this. None of this could have been predicted by the publishers prior to opening their APIs, but the entire world benefits as a result.

    As you said, it is a fantastic and exciting time to be a technologist.

  28. Dave,

    It is amazing how mobile devices peripheral to the Internet are essential to the “Internet of Everything” paradigm. Just think how the following have really just come into maturity for integration with the Internet: 1) wireless terminals (smartphones & tablets); 2) HD Digital Photography/Video; 3) 3D copy and model creation “printers”; 4) consumer GPS services and devices; 5) Facial recognition software; 6) Language translation software 7) Algorithms that guess intelligently what we might like next!

    -David Carter, CPIM, CPA, CMA

    • David – agreed. “Algorithms that guess intelligently what we might like next!” is particular intriguing. As “things” talk to one another, consider the implications… your alarm clock noticed you woke up late, so it told your car to take a shorter route to work, who told your calendar to adjust your morning meeting. Or, you are at the grocery store and your shopping cart suggests a side dish to go with the entree you already have at home, but notices that you have an allergy to a specific food, and takes that into consideration. Whether these specific scenarios happen or not is subjective, but as you rightly suggest, as things know about other things that know about us (with our permission), context-based information, at the right time, at the right place, based on predictive algorithms are fascinating.

  29. No, the IOE is not a buzzword, it is reality. Entirely cool. In some cases here now in s rudimentary way, but the entire home appliance network is around the corner. The interesting perspective with the I of everything is how quickly will a standardized interface happen with appliance makers all adopting and producing -but COST is another issue. Another key is the user interface and simplicity of the voice control and simple GUI. We eventually plug everything into our home appliance network (eg. The HA-NET). Give it time. Everything in the house will eventually have an IP address. In all of these cases, the next generation smart appliances need to come in at a reasonable price point. Since the economies of scale come into play in any new gadget, the cost of that wireless KUERIG coffee pot will be more reasonable “some day”. The early adapters will scoop it up with COST forcing a much longer lag time until the rest of society comes around to perceive good value and quality at the lower price point. The concept of a smart house has been around for a while, the technology will evolve and it will all become a reality, but price is a killer factor. There are so many markets to consider.

  30. Dave,
    I am extremely intrigued by the IoE concept. I’m am very curious as to when you see the IoE integrating into the physical world (and therefore our daily activities) more directly. The adoption of IoE security devices, marketing solutions, financial solutions, etc… is definitely a futuristic concept and one that is both exciting and, quite honestly, slightly scary.

    • Steve – thanks for the comments. IoE is already very much a part of our daily lives, for example just take communication – consider how we communicate today (IP phones, video, social networking, etc) – networking has forever changed that aspect of our lives. Over the course of the next decade (and beyond) as we continue to merge things with people and information, we will see IoE transform how we drive, how we manage our cities, how we bank, how we manage our resources (climate, food, water), how we we monitor our health, and much more. We are are the beginning of a huge transformation.

  31. Dave,
    A very optimistic blog post, but what downsides and negative impacts over the next decade do you see IOE bringing?

    • Elliott, thanks for the comments. IoE has the potential to transform our world for the better, but like any technology we must carefully weigh the benefits with how it is used. Sensing, transparency and connectivity are great capabilities, but not at the expense of privacy erosion. Ensuring things like opt-in models vs. opt-out are important to its success.

  32. Dear Dave,

    Very interesting – and thanks for a dose of optimism! Can you develop more about how the internet can help – or has already helped – in natural environment protection? Of course it is a tool which increases public awareness but is that enough?

    Kind regards

    • Ewa, as we instrument the world with more and more sensors (and importantly, connect them) we will be able to be much more proactive (vs. reactive) to environmental conditions. There are numerous examples today where organizations are monitoring the climate / environment (NASA), water conditions (India), livestock conditions (Netherlands), Tsunami watch (, City 24/7 ( as well as many others.

  33. Dave,

    This is a great start to a very interesting topic (IoE). The power of networks is invaluable and I agree, there is an opportunity for Everything in Existence (physical products, outer space planets, living things and people) to be connected by attributes and information via the Internet.

    What I am interested to see transpire in the near future is how, individuals will Consume this plethora of information, make it personable and relevant and then take action keeping in mind downstream network implications. One of the biggest opportunities (and responsibilities) is that in a connected world, each individual’s voice is that much louder and stronger and each individual’s actions has that much further reach.