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The Internet of Everything

By Marjo Johne | March 29, 2015

When the Internet first emerged into the mainstream, it was an untested frontier that offered tantalizing possibilities. Today, it’s a powerful global infrastructure that drives commercial and consumer activities.

The world’s ultimate network is about to get even stronger, says Rick Huijbregts, Vice-President of Industry Transformation at Cisco Canada. It’s swiftly morphing into the Internet of Everything – an all-encompassing information, communication and action platform with significant economic implications for consumers, organizations, communities and nations.

The next frontier

Huijbregts describes the Internet of Everything as the convergence of people, process, data and things. “The Internet of Everything gives us all the building blocks for true business transformation and delivering business value and allows us to rethink how we deliver and consume services,” he says. Consider it the next step in the digital evolution from today’s Internet of Things, which sees a growing number of smart devices such as sensors and mobile phones coming online and communicating with each other or with websites. As the Internet of Things expands and transforms into the Internet of Everything, networked connections will gain capabilities such as context awareness, increased processing power and energy independence.

A hyper-intelligent world

The Internet of Everything sees inanimate objects “wake up” to communicate and turn information into action. In this hyper-intelligent world, cars can talk to each other to help drivers avoid collisions or traffic jams, and buildings can self-diagnose problems and request service for their heating, cooling and water systems. Throughout supply chains, connected objects can share information, thereby making organizations more efficient.

Six key drivers

Huijbregts says six key trends drive the Internet of Everything. Three of them are tied to technologies: mobile, video and applications. First, the world has moved en masse to mobile technologies—global mobile data traffic grew 81% last year, Huijbregts explains; second, 90 per cent of consumer Internet traffic now comes from video, largely via Netflix and YouTube. “Third, we see the emergence of applications,” he says. “Already more than 2,400 apps are launched across multiple platforms like Android and iOS each and every day.” The fourth driver is the Internet of Things, Huijbregts notes. Today, about 13 billion smart objects communicate over the Internet, a number expected to surge to 50 billion by 2020. The Internet of Things has given rise to the fifth major trend: big data. Turning the vast amounts of bits and bytes online into meaningful and useful intelligence requires data analytics and the cloud – the sixth key trend behind the Internet of Everything.

A wealth of opportunities

The Internet of Everything will generate tremendous economic opportunities – $19-trillion (U.S.) worth in this decade alone, Huijbregts reckons. “Four-point-six trillion of that is in government – $115-billion for Canada’s public sector – where we see the opportunity to change productivity, deliver new citizen services and optimize how we deliver services,” he says. “In the private sector, which sees opportunities of about $14-trillion (U.S.) – $490-billion in Canada – there are some industries that stand to gain the most. In areas where we’ve lost some of our manufacturing capabilities, the Internet of Everything is an opportunity to generate about 27 per cent of that $14-trillion. A lot of it is to do with supply chain optimization and productivity.”

Success factors

Huijbregts says five key ingredients must be in place for businesses, communities and countries to succeed in the Internet of Everything: 
1. Visionary leadership in companies and governments 
2. Global standards for technology innovations 
3. Smart regulations and policies 
4. More collaborative public-private partnerships 
5. New ecosystems where companies and governments can innovate freely.

Cisco’s Innovation Center

To help organizations leverage the next digital revolution, Cisco Canada has launched five global centres of excellence for the Internet of Everything, including a new Innovation Center in Toronto. “It’s an environment where we’re going to bring together our partners and our customers, new startups, universities and the amazing amount of research and innovation that Canada has,” Huijbregts says. “It’s a collaborative space where we will co-create business solutions based on the Internet of Everything.”

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