Cisco, one of the largest IT companies on the globe, has coined the term “The Internet of Everything.”
An image from inside Cisco's Silicon Valley offices.
Frequently shortened to IoE, Cisco defines it as “bringing together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before.”
Not to be confused, of course, with the Internet of Things, which is just the connectability of an iPhone, iPad or “i - insert-cute-word-here” device. The IoE is a fascinating concept with limits defined only by one’s imagination.
As a group of Telfer School of Management EMBA students listened to the highly engaging and entertaining Joseph Bradley of Cisco deliver an enticing IoE pitch, I found my mind wandering to some of the possible benefits of this idea.
Consider the average closet. I would say that although my own clothing collection is not excessive, a connected closet would still be a fantastic asset. Blouses to tell you they are out of style, suits that exclaim that they’re in need of dry cleaning, shoes that text you “I clash with that purse,” or even a full-length mirror that snaps a quick photo, saves it in a tasteful Instagram style and then posts the selfie on Twitter and Facebook (with appropriate, humble-but-funny, hashtags, of course).
In all seriousness, IoE claims to be capable of unlocking an additional $14 trillion (yes, with a “T”) in corporate profits by improving asset utilization, employee productivity, supply-chain logistics, customer experience and innovation. The connections become the value; the ‘things’ are just the tools at hand.
The skeptic in me thinks this is all very great, but the sheer scale and cost of connecting everything can’t possibly be easily overcome. And does “everything” mean “anything?” Will children be connected to their parent’s iPhone via an implanted chip that monitors whether they brushed their teeth, went to homeroom or have enough vitamin D?
This raises the question as to whether being connected is only awesome if one can choose when to unplug.
Although we only arrived on Saturday afternoon, the Telfer EMBA class landed bright-eyed and eager to decipher Silicon Valley’s secret sauce. Prior to heading to Cisco, we spent the morning at business accelerator US MAC where we received tips on shaking some capital out of the venture capital money tree from our gracious host, Alfredo Coppola.
Steve Bengston of PwC and Abhas Gupta of Mohr Davidow Ventures had some of us draft letters of resignation as they opened a small window into the realm of startups, raising capital and the very real possibility, or rather, probability of failure. Although the typical Silicon Valley startup is still described as 20-somethings straight out of college, coding until the wee hours of the mornings and eating day-old pizza, our adrenaline couldn’t help but start racing at the mention of working on something with passion beyond reason.
Do we know the secret sauce? Not yet and maybe never. But whatever magic the Valley is running on is more intriguing now than ever.
-By Nisha Cairo
This article is the first in a series this week on the University of Ottawa's Telfer School of Management Executive MBA class trip to the Silicon Valley. The trip is part of the EMBA curriculum on "Innovation and Entrepreneurship."