Are you Ready?
Cisco first asked this question in a 1999 advertising campaign when the incredible potential of the Internet was just beginning to become apparent.
Our ‘Are You Ready?’ ad campaign carried a simple message to the world’s businesses, telecommunications providers, and public institutions: get your Internet infrastructure ready now or risk being left behind in a world that is rapidly moving towards online-commerce, supply chain digitization and connected workforces.
Some moved quickly, but others failed to heed the warning. 45% of the companies on the Fortune 500 list in 1999 were no longer on the 2014 list, with dozens making way for nimbler more web-savvy competitors..
Today, as Cisco publishes its latest Visual Networking Index (VNI) study, our biannual global study of fixed and mobile data traffic, I see another ‘Are You Ready?’ moment in the making.
It is two years since Cisco quantified the astonishing $19 trillion economic potential of the Internet of Everything at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Today, just twenty four months later, we’re seeing an acceleration of the impact of the Internet of Everything on global networks. Here are some of the highlights of the VNI study:
• There will be eight billion connected mobile devices by 2019
• 3.2 billion of those – 40 percent of mobile Internet – will be machine-to-machine connections, such as wearable devices
• Cisco forecasts an 18-fold growth in mobile traffic from wearable devices (most of it channeled through smartphones) from 2015 to 2019.
• Wearable device traffic growth will be fueled by a five-fold growth in the number of connected devices, reaching 578 million by 2019, up from 109 million in 2014.
Consider the impact that an 18-fold traffic growth could have on network architecture as myriad fitness trackers, smart watches, smart glasses, sports accessories and healthcare devices connect.
Mind boggling? Maybe, but these consumer devices are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this explosion of connectivity. We expect the total number of connected things to reach 50 billion by 2020 – almost six times the forecast number of connected mobile and wearable devices combined.
Take the auto industry for example. I saw dozens of examples of what’s to come at CES last month. Upcoming generations of vehicles are going to be jammed with connected sensors in everything from vehicle safety, to autonomous driving and entertainment systems. Already, one-third of U.S. households own a vehicle equipped with an electronic infotainment system. By 2020, the number of cars connected to the Internet worldwide will grow more than fourfold to 152 million from 36 million today.
And then there is the digitization of cities. With 180,000 people per day moving into urban areas, smart connected cities will become an imperative for delivering better quality of life to citizens. What do these smart cities comprise? Millions and millions of smart connections, starting with city-wide WiFi and extending from smart parking to smart garbage collection; intelligent traffic management; digital signage, smart lighting and public safety.
So, are you ready?
2015 could well be the year corporate, service provider and public sector networks start feeling the pressure.
But note one thing: this isn’t just about the Internet coping with a large volume of new connections. Networks need to get smarter so that they are capable of creating dynamic connections, delivering the right service to the right person or device, and identifying – from among the trillions of packets of digitized information flowing across them– the precise pieces of data which can keep a product delivery on time, win a customer or keep citizens safe. The network is the platform on which everything digital will connect.
I see two categories of technology becoming particularly important as we strive to meet those challenges.
Connected analytics – software tools coupled to storage and compute capabilities located at the edge of the network that provide businesses with access to real-time information, predictions, and trends that can have an immediate impact on their business – will be key to realizing value as this next chapter of the Internet unfolds.
And network function virtualization (NfV) will become equally critical to those service providers building and running the networks to which these new connected devices will attach. NfV is a set of software technologies that helps service providers rapidly roll out information services, and explore new business models capable of monetizing the Internet of Everything.
Arguably more important than any technology will be a leadership mindset which recognizes that fast businesses require fast innovation and fast I.T. Today’s wave of change is coming at us with even more speed than the first phase of the Internet did and only the most agile will survive.
So, the next time you glance at the wearable on your wrist in the gym or on the trail, know that the world’s IT leaders are also going to be hard at work creating and capitalizing on the next great generation of Internet experiences.