Things become Everything

Wednesday 20th February 2013
The whole internet: Courtesy:

Back in 1999 Kevin Ashton raised the core issue of the Internet of Things (IOT). By February 2010 McKinsey's Michael Chu et al raised a slightly different slant. By January 2011, Cisco's Donald McLaughlin emphasised convergence and the Internet of Things; Massachusettes Institute of Technology dubbed 2013 the year of the Internet of Things, and it has certainly seen the birth of the IOT Consortium. But now a new slant emerges from Cisco's mantra of a subtle Intenet of Everything.

Technologist  Kevin Ashton pointed out that almost all the information available on the internet, some 50 petabytes at that time, was captured or created by humans in the form of text, photos, videos etc . He suggested this would change as  computers both  generated and  and distributed data, with relatively simple technologies such as RFID tracking tags  and  low-power sensors. These would gathering data on everything from temperature and air quality to footsteps and motion detection, and flow power actuators that switch anything on and off, as  lights, heating and air conditioning, video cameras and so on.  

Ashton (right) called that system “the Internet of Things” and began a number of companies and initiatives to start  it. But progress was been initially slow consumers  being  disinterested by the idea of remotely controlling a toaster over the internet or having their fridge  reliably order milk before it runs out.

In January this year MIT called 2013 the year of the Internet of  Things  and cited how in Australia,  at the national  scientific research organisation, CSIRO, Arkady Zaslavsky and his colleagues revealed how enabling technologies that Ashton predicted have  now matured and how the IOT is believed to be poised to burst onto the mainstream with  a new generation of challenges.

Each year in Australia,  biologists plant a million or so plots of different types of grain to see which grow best in a wide variety of conditions. Plots are situated countrywide creating  a logistical nightmare for the relatively small team who must monitor both the environmental conditions and the rate of growth of the plants.  

The problem answered by a wireless sensor network that monitors what’s going on and sends the data back to the High Resolution Plant Phenomics Centre (HRPPC) Canberra which runs the experiments. Sensors used at just 40 sites, generate  2 million data points per week.  But  various cloud-based services are emerging t designed to help manage these kinds of sensors and the data they produce.

Other IOT examples include various cities with  transport network sensors that broadcast the position of buses, trams and trains and make this known  to the public. Innovative apps now give commuters real-time updates on their next ride. Other sensors monitor traffic conditions for real-time traffic flow optimisation.
Increasingly now sensor technologies  are used to  variously monitor sporting performance or workouts analysis or  use the internet to monitor and control of home devices as with  Ninja Blocks  in Australia.

McKinsey's Michael Chu's (right) view was that  as more objects were becoming embedded with sensors, gaining the ability to communicate   the resulting information networks promised to create new business models, improve business processes, and reduce costs and risks, according to him and colleaguesi, Markus Loffler and Roger Roberts back in 2010.

By 2011 at Cisco, Donald McLaughlin was preaching the IOT and certainly 2013 has seem the birth of the USA IOT Consortium.

In January, the Internet of Things Consortium started up led by Jason Johnson, managing partner at technology incubator Founders Den and former chairman of the Wireless VoIP Consortium, and VP of Dolby Laboratories' technology standards licensing business unit.

The charter member  comprise Basis, Europe's COIN, Game your game, Logitech OUYA, Poly-control,  Smartthings and MyUbe.

But now Cisco’s global CEO John Chambers (right) has changed the emphasis from Things to Everything (IOE), and declared his company's Everything strategy which is aired on on a blog post:  a full length white paper  and the view Tomorrow starts here.

In brief, the Internet of Everything is the next wave of dramatic internet growth which will bring together people, processes, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before.  It will transform businesses in the same way as the internet did when it was launched.

Cisco estimates that 99.4% of physical objects in the world are still unconnected. With only about 10 billion of the 1 trillion things currently connected globally, there is vast potential to connect the unconnected via the Internet of Everything (IoE).

Cisco projects that IoE will create $14.4 trillion of Value at Stake for companies and industries over the next decade. Value at Stake is the potential bottom-line value that can be created or  migrate among private-sectorcompanies and industries based on their ability to harness IoE.

The $14.4 trillion in Value at Stake has 5 main drivers

  • Asset utilisation - $2.5 trillion
  • Employee productivity - $2.5 trillion
  • Supply chain and logistics efficiencies -$2.7 trillion
  • Customer experience - $3.7 trillion
  • Innovation - $3 trillion

From an industry perspective 4 out of 18 industries make up more than half the total Value at Stake - manufacturing (27%), retail (11%), information services (9%) and insurance (9%).
Private business leaders (including Scottish business leaders) need to determine where their businesses are today with IoE, understand the role of IT in enabling their companies to benefit from IoE, take steps to maximise capabilities in the areas of security and privacy and pay attention to the cultural changes that are necessary to embrace IoE.


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