Cisco Says Its "Internet of Everything" Is Worth $14.4 Trillion. Really?

Networking giant Cisco predicted Wednesday that as we move into a "fundamentally mobile and video" world, the "Internet of Everything" — which combines the so-called Internet of Things with the Internet used by people and their mobile devices — will create $14.4 trillion in value and boost overall corporate profits by 21%. All by 2022.

Those are some pretty big numbers, shared by Cisco executives at a press event in San Jose on Wednesday. But while the vision makes sense, quantifying the changes to be wrought by growth of the Internet of Everything seems, well, fairly abitrary. To say the least.

What Goes Into $14.4 Trillion?

Rob Lloyd, Cisco President, Sales and Development, broke down the $14.4 trillion figure this way:

  • $2.5 trillion in better asset utilization
  • $2.5 trillion in employee productivity
  • $2.7 in supply chain logistics
  • $3.7 trillion in better customer experience.
  • $3 trillion in enabling new innovations.
Those may seem easier to grasp, but when you're talking in trillions over decade-long time frames, it's very hard to put much credence in calculations like these. 

Perhaps we can start by seeing which industries benefit first and most dramatically. According to Lloyd, the top candidates include manufacturing, the public sector, energy and utlities, healthcare, finance/insurance, transportation and wholesale/distribution.

The Internet of Everything combines several trends, including the growth of connected devices, the increasing use of video, cloud computing, Big Data and the increasing importance of mobile apps compared to traditional computing applications.

Lloyd did lay out numbers to support the importance of the trends. But though these are also all giant numbers, connecting them to the $14.4 trillion figure still requires a leap of faith.

In terms of connected devices, he said, we've gone from 200 million in 2000 to 10 billion devices today, to a predicted 50 billion by 2020. On the mobile side, Lloyd said, 20 billion mobile apps were downloaded last year alone. By 2017, he added, two-thirds of mobile traffic will be video.

New Levels Of Complexity To Support New Uses

That complexity will make today's issues "look very, very minor," and pose historic challenges to manage, Lloyd said. That statement, at least, is easy to grasp. "We've been warming up for this for the last five years." The company already has a number of projects in the works demonstrating key elements of the trend, including installing smart meters and pole-top routers for BC Hydro in Canada, and a single auto plant with 50,000 IP devices.

Cisco's Sean Curtis demo'd live data from San Carlos, Calif., showing a heat map for mobile connections using "dwell time" metrics to track how efficiently pedestrian traffic was moving through the suburb's commuter train station. Curtis said similar information mashups have been applied to San Carlos' farmers market, offering insights into how many shoppers showed up, how long they stayed and which stalls they visited — information that would be of great use to both retailers and city planners.

The next step, Curtis said, is to link that kind of data with store data as well as parking and traffic information to help shoppers optimize their experience. The idea is that eventually shoppers could see the best route to the least crowded store with the best prices on the items they were looking for.

As apps like that come online, the Internet of Everything should indeed spur growth. Maybe even trillions of dollars worth of growth. Exactly how much and when, though, seems a Big Data question of the highest order. 

Rising Expectations, Bigger Security Issues

The rise of the Internet of Everything is already changing corporate expectations, Lloyd said, not to mention who pays for technology advances. "The Internet of Everything will be driven by business funding, not just IT funding," Lloyd said.

What about security for all this connected information? Padmasree Warrior, Cisco's chief technology and strategy officer, said "the data will be collected whether we want it to be or not. How will it be used? That is the security question."

Photos by Fredric Paul