February 24, 2016

Top 10 Tech Trends: The Internet of Everything

As 2015 draws to a close, tech experts are looking to the future – and high on the list of talking points are Gartner’s Top 10 Tech Trends for 2016. But what are these innovations all about? How will they impact us and are they as important as they’re cracked up to be?

We’ll be looking at each of these much-trumpeted tech trends in turn, to figure out just what kind of impact they’re likely to have over the coming year. In our last post, we analyzed the expanding field of 3D Printing Materials; today, we look at the fourth trend on the list: The Internet of Everything.

What is the Internet of Everything?

You’re probably familiar with the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT): the network of physical devices that connect to the internet, relaying key data back and forth to provide information on everything from user behavior to stock levels to heart rate, and adapting how those devices work accordingly. Nowadays, there are more devices connected to the internet than people to the planet. Not just phones, laptops, tablets and wearable devices, but cars, toasters, beds, agri-tech, even health-based nanotechnologies that can be injected into our bloodstream and report back on what’s happening inside our bodies. We’ve progressed from the Internet of Things to the Internet of Everything.

That’s a lot of information flowing back and forth. There’s volumes and volumes of it – far too much information to ever measure and put to good use. But for those organizations that can figure out how to be selective, how to extract what they need and make use of this data, the business benefits are boundless.

What Does this Mean in Practice?

That kind of depends on the nature of the organization and what they’re trying to achieve. The trouble with limitless data is that you also have limitless lines of inquiry, so you need a definite goal, a solid game plan and plenty of discipline to get there. Every company will have a different intended use for the data they collect – but ultimately, it will boil down to understanding your customers and your market better, and adapting your solutions and messaging to fit.

From a commercial perspective, this is a big, big trend. As Cisco’s John Chambers has explained, this is more than a multi-billion dollar industry: we’re talking about trillions. Even in the public sector alone, Chambers has said in the past that the impact of IOE on city planning, health, the military, first responders and more would represent a $4.6 trillion industry.

What Gartner Says:

“Information has always existed everywhere but has often been isolated, incomplete, unavailable or unintelligible. Advances in semantic tools such as graph databases as well as other emerging data classification and information analysis techniques will bring meaning to the often chaotic deluge of information.”

What We Say:

Companies, governments and other institutions have a big job on their hands to figure out what kind of information will offer them the most strategic value, exactly where to find it, and how to extract it from myriad sources.

To get anything out of this information at all, they’ll need a crystal clear vision of what their goals are in the first place and what gaps in their knowledge they must fill to achieve them. Then, they’ll have to work out algorithms to process and analyze this data. They’ll have to think carefully about the insights this gives them about consumer or public behavior and how they can harness these to understand their audience and to adapt and improve their offering. What’s more, they’ll have to do all of this while navigating complex privacy laws and ethical considerations.

That’s an awful lot of muddy water to wade through, but the organizations that manage it best will undoubtedly have the upper hand in their industry.

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