Cisco puts a huge value on the 'Internet of everything'

More devices and people connecting to the Internet will create $14.4 trillion opportunity over the next decade, the company says

The so-called "Internet of everything," the rapidly approaching world where objects from refrigerators to factory robots can talk to people and other machines, will create a massive business opportunity worth US$14.4 trillion over the next decade, according to a new study from Cisco Systems.

The Internet of everything, a phrase coined by Cisco to describe the networking of people, processes, data and objects, will encompass multiple industries, enabling customized online education, smart factories and the smart energy grid, Cisco officials said. Over the next decade, that connection of new objects and people to the Internet puts $14.4 trillion at stake, with the opportunity including new profits and cost savings, the company predicted in the white paper, released late Monday.

More than 99 percent of physical objects are not now connected to the Internet, but Cisco expects 50 billion objects to be connected by 2020, officials said. New objects and people coming online creates a big investment incentive for companies, said Cisco Chief Marketing Officer Blair Christie.

Companies should embrace this trend or risk being left behind, Cisco CEO John Chambers wrote in a blog post.

"I believe that businesses and industries that quickly harness the benefits of the Internet of Everything will be rewarded with a larger share of that increased profitability," he wrote. "This will happen at the expense of those that wait or don't adapt effectively. That's why the value is 'at stake' -- it's truly up for grabs."

The Internet of everything represents the next stage of the Internet, Christie said. "We think it's as powerful as [the Internet] was in the very beginning, when a lot of industries won and a lot of industries lost," she said.

Cisco looked at several industries to come up with its money estimate. Among the industries: smart buildings, smart farming, investing, physical and IT security, connected payments, and connected gaming and entertainment. In addition, the company looked at a handful of cross-industry trends that the Internet of everything will affect, with telecommuting, travel avoidance and supply-chain efficiency among them.

Just under a third of the market opportunity for the Internet of everything will be in the U.S., with another 30 percent in Europe, Cisco predicted. Another 12 percent will be in China and 5 percent in Japan.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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