If there was a developing market opportunity that would bring you $19 trillion (with a “T”), you’d probably be interested, wouldn’t you. If that market’s impact on the world–not just the technology sphere–was going to have 5-10 times the impact ten years from now as it has been since the internet’s inception, you’d want to keep an eye on it.

Well, that’s the Internet of Everything for you.

John Chambers, CEO and Chairman of Cisco, gave a keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. This shouldn’t surprise anyone, nor should Cisco’s very close orbit around the core of the Internet of Everything (IoE) technology base.

What might surprise people would be some of the numbers Chambers threw around.

* Increasing retail revenue by $1.5 trillion with smart shopping carts and in-store integration–something it’s harder to do in online marketing, and something that could lead to a stronger in-store customer experience, thwarting the “showrooming” trend that is scaring bricks-and-mortar stores these days.

* Cutting nearly three-quarters of municipal electric bills (or nearly a third of government budgets) by using smart street lighting. * Decreasing traffic congestion by one third while improving revenues in a $41 billion niche with smart parking and traffic monitoring.

* The IoE could generate $4.6 trillion in value for the public sector by 2022.

* An estimated $19 trillion impact of the Internet of Everything in the public and private sector.

It’s great to be interested in technology for technology’s sake. But as Chambers said, this is not about technology, it’s about changing people’s lives.

Businesses have started embracing the Internet of Everything because it’s profitable, increasing revenue and decreasing unnecessary expenses, and improving the way they interface with customers, employees, partners, and the community. If you take a $10 million money pit and replace it with $5-10 million in new revenue, that’s pretty good from a business perspective. And as they say, ten million here, ten million there, eventually it adds up to real money. Nineteen trillion dollars of real money, one might say.

Forward-thinking governments pick up on those points as well, bringing Just-in-Time (JiT) delivery to their services. Smart power meters help you track utility supply and demand and plan truck rolls and maintenance better. Smart parking meters mean you don’t put your traffic enforcement officers in harm’s way, improve traffic flow (and thus traffic and tax revenue for businesses in your community), and speed up collections. Knowing when lighting is needed and when it’s not working means you cut back on crime and reduce maintenance costs. Trash cans can report back on when they’re full (or overly smelly) and can be collected based on need, not just on calendar day.

Chambers and Antoni Vives, Vice Mayor of Barcelona, noted that quality of life is about what technology can deliver, not just the technology itself. Better services means more safety, more effective use of taxes and fees (and potentially less of both), and a community that’s dramatically easier to live and thrive in.

There’s still a lot of work to be done before the Internet of Everything is everywhere. It probably won’t be a top-down implementation in the United States, for example, but as local governments start implementing forward-thinking technology, it will become easier to justify on a larger scale. There has to be a focus on simplicity, because most of the world’s population aren’t techies. And as I’ve discussed before, there must be balanced attention paid to security and the appearance of security, as much of the past year’s big headlines have made clear.

But in the next year, expect to see technologically advanced countries take connected cities to the next level. Watch for even deeper integration of connectedness across health care. Look at how devices close to you start to enhance your life and connect you to the providers and services you depend on most. And don’t be surprised when Cisco is at the core of it all.


Robert Novak

Product Manager

UCS Networking