After Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) CEO John Chambers put a $19 trillion figure on the Internet of Everything in early January, Cisco executives followed up by briefing global retailers at a New York retail conference earlier this week.
Retailers have failed to light up “dark assets” like shopping carts, shelf sensors and weight mats, said Cisco execs at a presentation. Turning in-store devices into intelligent data-gatherers could help them monitor and predict inventory and shopper behavior, they said.
The Internet of Everything, a hip title for connecting and controlling unlikely physical objects -- like thermostats, doors, fridges -- via sensors, data streams and online networks, represents a $1.6 trillion opportunity for retailers over the next decade, Cisco estimated. That includes untapped revenue and savings.
The budding business and tech trend already captured $81 billion of value from such technologies in 2013, Cisco said.
Cisco Chief Insights Officer Paul Schottmiller said that ongoing work by MIT and Stanford University scientists boggles the mind. The research driving the Internet of Everything far exceeds what the industry is interested in, even now.
“The things that they’re doing at places like the MIT Labs and Stanford around video is absolutely amazing,” Schottmiller told retailers. “They can do ages within bands. They can do ethnicities within bands. They’re starting to be able do to do all kinds of biometrics.
“I can do health indicators. I can see how fast you’re walking, I can see things about the way you walk that tell me things about your health. Obviously I can see your size, your weight,” he continued.
The precision of the data gathered by smart devices is impressive.
The General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) has has long praised the "Industrial Internet," as it terms this trend within heavy industry. The massive conglomerate has estimated that $150 billion in waste can be eliminated across major industries with this technology.
GE has deployed smart technology within its jet engines, wind turbines and medical equipment, to calibrate and adjust devices instantly and remotely. Manufacturing is the sector with the most to gain from the Internet of Everything, an earlier Cisco white paper stated, followed by retail.
“The industrial Internet is of course a major focus point for [GE], advanced manufacturing is another,” wrote GE research spokesman Todd Alhart in an email to IBTimes.
The Internet of Things has “truly diverse applicability, with examples in Machinery (intrusion detection for safety), Healthcare (remote patient monitoring) and Mining (unmanned mining dump trucks), just to name a few industry verticals,” Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C) analysts wrote in a Thursday report.
Citi analysts also note there’s some dispute over terminology. They prefer the term M2M, or “Machine to Machine.” The term originated in 1999 at The Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE:PG), but has since been co-opted by companies like Cisco, they said.
Cisco estimates that there are about 1.5 trillion things globally, with only 10 billion connected. That means more than 99 percent of physical objects are still unconnected.
Cisco is upbeat. “Our experience in the last twelve months is: Actually, you can connect most things. Anything you can get an IP address to, we are able to get to,” said Lisa Fretwell, Cisco’s Internet of Everything managing director. “I think we’ll see that whole area of things really develop in the future, in terms of things just becoming much smarter, and much more connected.”
Still, there’s a long way to go before smart fridges and ovens dominate our homes, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month. Its sober analysis deflated much of the marketing hype on the topic from the 2014 Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show.