will.i.am from the Black Eyed Peas gets the Internet of Everything (IoE).

“Everywhere we go in the world, the things that we come across aren’t intelligent. Like this wall that I’m looking at, it’s just separating the room from the other side. In actuality, that wall should be intelligent.”

He goes on to say, “The next 10 years [will be] nuts.” I couldn’t agree more.

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.

To help more people “get it,” I thought it would be useful to provide more detail about each of the components—people, process, data, and things—that make up IoE.

People – Individuals have typically connected to the Internet through devices like smartphones, tablets, laptops, and PCs. As technology continues to advance at an ever-increasing pace (Metcalfe’s and Moore’s laws are still at work), the way we connect will become more “personal.” For example, the Proteus pill, approved by the FDA in 2012, is an ingestible sensor that lets doctors know when patients take (or don’t take) their medicines. In the near future, ingestible pills will be able to measure and transmit other vital information about our health to detect and address problems early on or to improve our performance at work and play.

And as sensors and computers shrink to the size of dust particles and grains of salt, it won’t be long before people connect to the Internet through their clothing and even through personal care products such as perfume and cologne. Gartner agrees. In its report “The Internet of Everything Innovation Will Transform Business,” the analyst firm predicts that people themselves will become nodes on the Internet, with both static information and a constantly emitting activity system.

Data – People, computers, and sensors are already creating more data than we can handle. In fact, by 2016, 1.3 zettabytes of data will flow over the Internet. IoE will help turn this data into information so that people can more quickly gain knowledge and wisdom. How? As the things that are connected to the Internet become smarter and more capable, much of the computing, analytics, and decision making will take place at the “edge” of the Internet. This shift from “dumb” data to “smart” information at the point of decision, as well as at the core, will allow the Internet to be more helpful, relevant, and secure.

As an example, imagine what can happen when ATMs have cameras equipped with built-in facial recognition and analytics software, and are tied in to the databases of major crime agencies and credit agencies. When a known or suspected identity thief tries to withdraw cash or sees that the customer is under duress, the machine confiscates the card and alerts the local police or security authority with images taken from the camera to help with a quick and accurate arrest.

Things – “Things” or inanimate objects like sensors, consumer devices, and machines have been the main building blocks of the Internet of Things—the predecessor to IoE. As these things sense more data, become context aware, and provide more experiential information, they will increasingly help people and machines make better decisions. Additionally, many of the more than 99 percent of things like food, packaging, building materials, surfaces, engine parts, and everyday objects that are currently unconnected will become active “participants” in IoE to improve people’s lives.

Today, more than 99% of things in the physical world are still not connected to the Internet.

Process – I put process last because is it somewhat different from people, data, and things. In IoE, process plays a critical role in orchestrating how these entities work (or don’t work) together to deliver value in a connected world. With the correct process, connections become more relevant and add value because the right information is delivered to the right person, at the right time, in the most appropriate way. Process is absolutely necessary in IoE as we begin to connect the unconnected. Process keeps things running smoothly and enables powerful synergistic combinations of people, data, and things to improve people’s lives and solve common day-to-day challenges.

For example, we often look at driving to our destination as an isolated—and insulated—event where stop signs slow us down, traffic is an obstacle, and other drivers get in our way. As cars become more intelligent and connect to traffic signals, other vehicles, and even the road itself, IoE processes can make driving a coordinated event, where things and data work together to ensure as many people as possible get to their destinations safely and on time.

As will.i.am correctly stated, the next 10 years will be “nuts.” I can hardly wait.

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