Cisco "all in" on the Internet of Everything
With its recent "Tomorrow Starts Here" campaign, Cisco has made clear that it harbors plans for the Internet of Things, the growing population of data-sensing, Internet-connectable objects that range from iPhones to smart meters. CEO John Chambers revealed just how big those plans are.
"We're all in. We're making this our cornerstone of our campaign to become the number-one IT company," Chambers said, speaking to an audience of international executives assembled at Cisco's San Jose, Calif. campus. "It isn't a billion-dollar commitment. It's way, way beyond that in terms of the resources and time we're going to put behind it."
Objects equipped with processors, sensors and the ability to connect to the Internet have proliferated in recent years. From personal electronics devices such as mobile phones and tablets, to televisions, refrigerators, swimming pools, railroads, cars and the components of smart cities, these devices have increased, by Cisco's estimate, from 200 million in 2000 to over 10 billion today. In Cisco's view, society's ability to benefit from the data these devices collect will be dictated by how the devices are networked.
The company calls its vision for such a network "The Internet of Everything," and the plan already involves many of Cisco's recent projects, such as its location-based analytics service for retailers. The networking giant's futurists have also spoken to the concept's implications, balancing the vaguely dystopian notion that humans will be "nodes on the network" against the promise of 300-year lifespans and universal access to education and healthcare.
Chambers offered an even more persuasive prediction: the Internet of Everything could be worth more than $14 trillion in profits to the global economy over the next decade alone. His listeners had come to participate in a steering committee for a Cisco-proposed Internet of Things World Forum to be held this fall, and the CEO used his speech to sell attendees on his company's vision, which emphasizes open standards, cross-industry participation and speed to market.
Calling the Internet of Things "the next fundamental change in the whole IT industry," Chambers cautioned against a proprietary approach. "It's not, 'How do I get the majority of the pie?'" he said. "Cisco's view is, the quicker you make the pie bigger, the more everyone wins." In other words, companies that produce objects that speak their own languages and cannot easily interface with other objects or software will be needlessly duplicating one another's R&D expenses while limiting what can be done with collected data. But if standards and regulatory concerns are aggressively addressed through collaboration, players can focus on killer applications that transform entire industries.