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December 4, 2014

The Internet of Everything: A Refresher Course

By Wilgengebroed on Flickr.

Right now, in a world constantly talking about the Internet of Everything (IOE), we have a few key players whose voices stand out the strongest and loudest.

Take, for instance, Cisco. This tech giant, that has devoted itself to paving the way for the future on a pan-social level, has established itself as an IOE evangelist. If there’s anything you need to know about the Internet of Everything, Cisco has either created it or shared it.

So, naturally, we turned to Cisco to understand the one question that’s been lingering forever on all of our minds: What on earth is the Internet of Everything?

According to Cisco’s website, the phenomenon of Internet of Everything involves “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.”

That’s a fairly broad definition, because if you think about it, it truly does encompass everything. It’s everything related to new business opportunities, better functioning devices, more efficient lifestyles and ecosystems – and all of it fueled by data.

That’s pretty impressive. We’ve all heard the example of a refrigerator that’s been fed a monthly grocery list that replenishes itself when stocks run low. Now, imagine ALL your devices being able to “talk” to each other to make your life and interactions smoother and more intelligent than they were previously.

IoE: What’s the Value?

    1. Higher Efficiency: We’re looking at smarter cities functioning in unfathomable ways. As an example, Cisco figured out that people spend 2,000 hours of their lives wasting fuel while they go looking for parking spaces. The IoE revolution is here to change all of that.
    2. $4.6 trillion in potentially generated value through newer revenue streams, cost savings and higher productivity amongst employees. And this is just for the public sector.
    3. Funding from Venture Capitalists: If you’ve ever tried to woo the gaze of a venture capitalist your way with minimal success, you may want to consider grabbing a piece of the IoE pie. Because companies like Nest, Fitbit and Jawbone that are finding ways to combine people, devices, connectivity and efficiency have managed to source VC funding as high as $80 million.

Trend-Watch and Early Adopters

So, by all reports and accounts, we already know the Internet of Everything is going to be huge. With millions of dollars in funding available and trillions of dollars projected in revenues and savings, we know we’re looking at serious business.

And here are the areas that have already begun to reap the benefits of transitioning to connected “everything.”

  1. City Governance: But, as with all things that impact the lives of millions together, early adoption can only come from segments that have easy access to mammoth budgets, aka, the government. And it can begin by making a positive impact on the lives of its citizens by funding the establishment of necessary infrastructure.Just the way Finland did when it installed sensors in its garbage cans to reduce time and money wastage for trash collection. The result is an overall 40 percent savings.
  2. Automobile Manufacturers: We’re looking at cars that are constantly connected heading our way in the very near future. We’ve already seen moves by luxury car brands to make their cars smarter, but with the establishment of the AT&T Foundry in Atlanta more than a year ago, we’re excited to see the new levels of thinking and innovation that will make driving a pleasurable experience, especially for city dwellers.
  3. Healthcare: Think of connected devices that monitor your health levels and issue early warnings while alerting your doctors and a suite of medical professionals if they sense you getting into trouble. Since it’s easier and more economical to prevent diseases instead of treating them, the health care industry is all over IoE.

Risks and Challenges

This may be the coolest new kid on the block, but that’s not to say that IT departments everywhere aren’t already scratching their heads about how to deal with very significant obstacles with the mass adoption of connected devices.

  1. Scalability is a huge issue. How do governments and organizations prepare themselves to supply a demand they’ve foreseen for a couple of years?
  2. Data and Security Breaches. The higher the connectivity, the higher the risk of systems getting compromised and sensitive data leaking into the wrong hands.
  3. Data Mining. Read: privacy concerns.
  4. Which leads us to troubles with data analysis. It’s great to have all this data streaming in, but who’s going to tell us what it means?
  5. Infrastructure. Or lack thereof. Wired and wireless.

And dozens more when ecosystems begin to differentiate from one another.

All said and done, though, a new revolution in the digital arena is actually pretty exciting. While we set up new infrastructures, phase out legacy systems and teach ourselves how to solve problems we couldn’t have imagined before, the world is beginning to look like a big mash up of the cloud meets wide networks meets human-technical interaction in a digital space meets data collection, mining and analysis on a truly global scale.

It’s a great time to be alive.


Neha Bawa is a die-hard social media evangelist and a connoisseur of all things technology and IT. In her spare time, she writes for technology-focused companies like Koenig and Techmagnate, both based in India.