Futurists have long envisioned a world where fabulous innovations transform our lives in mind-boggling ways. And while some of their ideas may remain far-fetched, the most exciting thing about their future is that so much of it is already here, today (flying cars notwithstanding).

Indeed, we are living in an age of unprecedented technological transformation, one that stands to eclipse even the first Internet boom. This next wave of change is being driven by a massive upsurge in connectivity, from 10 billion connected things today to 50 billion in 2020. The world may seem connected. But only 1 percent of the objects around you are endowed with smart connectivity. That is changing fast. Your car, your refrigerator, your parking space, the bridge you drive over, the shelves at the local retailer, and the supply chain that feeds them — all of these “dark assets” are being “lit up” with smart connectivity, altering our lives in profound ways.

Cisco calls this the Internet of Everything (IoE). We define IoE as the intelligent connection of people, process, data, and things. And, of course, the “people” element is paramount, since the whole point of technology is to create a better life experience for everyone.

At Cisco, we estimate the Value at Stake from this transformation to be $14.4 trillion for the private sector alone over the next 10 years, which represents an opportunity to increase global aggregate corporate profits by about 21 percent.

Cisco’s projections are based on deep research and analysis into potential use cases. But we are not the only ones sensing the potential impact of this game-changing, global transformation.

For example, Gartner recently ranked IoE No. 3 in its Top 10 Strategic Technologies report, fueled by a Nexus of Forces that it describes as “the convergence and mutual reinforcement of social, mobility, cloud and information patterns that drive new business scenarios.”

Other companies have their own names for this phenomenon:

  • International Data Corporation’s Third Platform combines mobile devices and apps, cloud services, mobile broadband networks, Big Data analytics, and social technologies.
  • Forester Research envisions a vast tide of innovation driving a powerful wave of Digital Disruption.
  • IBM’s Smarter Planet defines a world of people, machines, industry, and enterprise connected and collaborating in unprecedented ways.
  • GE’s Industrial Internet is “the convergence of machine and intelligent data.”

At the end of the day, all of these titles describe the intelligent connection of people, process, data, and things. From our perspective, that’s the Internet of Everything.

Regardless of nomenclature, we all agree that this is an exciting time. IoE presents great challenges — and organizations will need to embrace massive paradigm shifts — but opportunities are going to be equally abundant. Just look at the world today. Who would have thought that just a few years ago, the world’s largest bookstore would be selling more e-books than physical books? In a few more years, the world’s largest university may no longer have any walls. The very concept of a workplace has been completely upended. These days, it could be the corner booth of a café in a remote mountain village as easily as an office tower in a major city. As more and more dumb objects are connected, expect the pace of change in this ever-expanding virtual world to accelerate as never before.

As we have described in many other blogs, the sweeping upsurge in connectivity stands to touch every aspect of our lives, transforming the ways in which we live, work, learn, and play.

Technology is indeed creating a better life experience for all, in ways that even futurists could barely imagine just a few years ago.

We call it the Internet of Everything. And it’s coming to you today.


Joseph M. Bradley

Global Vice President

Digital & IoT Advanced Services