Try and imagine what $1 trillion looks like, in paper bills. It’s difficult, as it’s an almost unimaginable amount of money. After all, we’re familiar with billionaires and all the luxuries they can buy, but our society isn’t home to any trillionaires. Not yet, any way.
And if there was a trillion-dollar industry out there, without a doubt, entrepreneurs and business giants would be chomping at the bit to get in. Well, by some measurements it already exists, and not just for $1 trillion. It’s worth a completely mind-blowing $19 trillion, and it all has to do with the much-discussed Internet of Things, which we’re only starting to see show up in our daily lives.
The Internet of Everything is the ticket, according to a report released last year by Cisco. The Internet of Everything presents business opportunities totaling $19 trillion, which means that there is not only an unbelievable amount of money on the table, but that there is also an unbelievable amount of opportunity. Just like the Internet itself started a gold rush, which has helped create some of the world’s most valuable businesses like Google, Facebook, and Amazon, the advent of the Internet of Everything will provide a myriad of other opportunities to make not just billions, but trillions.
“As network connections spread throughout the world, many private- and public-sector leaders are asking: ‘Where can I find the next wave of value?'” the Cisco report reads. “Enter the Internet of Everything (IoE). IoE connects the unconnected with ever-smarter technology. It brings people together with process, data, and things. New capabilities are created along with richer experiences.”
What does that mean, in a nutshell?
According to Cisco, “Forward-thinking organizations have unprecedented opportunities.”
Essentially, what civilization is creeping up on is a world in which almost all of our products, including appliances like refrigerators and devices like smartphones and televisions, will be connected. Just how and when that will end up manifesting itself in the real world is unclear, but we’re definitely in the beginning stages of it. Think of smart TVs, advanced refrigerators, or Amazon Dash buttons — and these things are just the tip of the iceberg.
An article from SingularityHUB really helps put things in perspective. Not only can consumer products be fitted to be a part of the IoE, but so can business services. By creating an environment in which businesses know exactly what products or services consumers need, right when they need them, companies will be able to service demand before consumers likely even realize they had any needs. A handful of the ways this can be implemented, per SingularityHub, are in finding parking spots, turning on and off lighting fixtures, transportation, and even some certain aspects of health care.
Needless to say, it’s going to be a monumental shift. If it happens.
While it may seem like the IoE’s eventual takeover of society is a foregone conclusion, there are still numerous issues to solve, including whether this level of interconnectivity is something people even want. By simply putting a chip in every object imaginable, it leaves some serious security concerns unaddressed. What if hackers, for example, are somehow able to gain access to your refrigerator? While that seems like an unlikely or even ridiculous scenario, that is exactly the kind of thing that we could see happening, although it’s unclear what a malicious invader could actually do with your refrigerator.
Another potential negative that people could be exposing themselves to is a seemingly endless array of advertising. Imagine taking your clothes out of the washing machine, only to have your appliance show and tell you all about the newest offerings from Tide? Is that something you really want? It could be, but it’s possible we could see our household items turn into Facebook-like streams of advertising.
Consumers, unfortunately, may not get a say in what ultimately happens. Manufacturers will turn to the money. If it’s streaming in from advertisers, they’ll probably cater to it. The only thing that could stop that would be people dramatically shifting their purchase habits.
With as much as $19 trillion on the table, you can bet that companies are going to go after the pot. The IoE sounds cool on paper, but getting there may require some growing pains, and superconnectivity to everything in the house may not be all it’s cracked up to be.
Follow Sam on Twitter @Sliceofginger