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Cisco's Chambers: IOT is past the hype stage

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Cisco's chairman John Chambers challenges those who call the Internet of Things "hype" to rethink their approach. (Photo by Reuters)
Cisco's chairman John Chambers challenges those who call the Internet of Things "hype" to rethink their approach. (Photo by Reuters)

The Internet of Things (IOT) has moved way beyond just hype. This is according to Cisco executive chairman, John Chambers, who was speaking at a media roundtable on the side-lines of the third annual Internet of Things World Forum (IoTWF), currently taking place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Chambers was defending his company's heavy focus on IOT, saying that you can't call digitisation hype "when you see every major company in the world making this transition. CEOs don't make moves on hype, they make moves because they view this as their future."

Gartner last year called the Internet of Things the most hyped emerging technology of 2014 and their 2015 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies reiterated IOT's position at the top of what the research company calls the "peak of inflated expectations."

"[Calling it hype] was a fair challenge two or three years ago, but today you have not only cities and countries but all major companies saying they have to develop a digital plan," according to Chambers.

He says when Cisco first started betting on IOT eight years ago people were sceptical, and even two years ago there were questions about its legitimacy but "now you see almost every company and every country moving towards this".

"I think we are now way past the hype stage and people who are still set on that, I challenge them to rethink," he adds.

The former Cisco CEO says there were over 14 billion devices connected globally in 2014, a huge rise from just 1 000 "connected things" back in 1984. The company estimates the number to be over 18 billion now and predicts it will grow to 50 billion by 2020 and 500 billion by 2030.

"What you are seeing is the second generation of the Internet that will transform every person's life around the world".

What you are seeing is the second generation of the Internet that will transform every person's life around the world.

John Chambers, Cisco

He says that unlike in the first generation of the Internet, where you had to be in the right country or city to participate in it, the next generation can be taken advantage of from anywhere in the world.

"In 2015 IOT has hit an inflection point. There is not a major government leader or a major industry player that doesn't understand that this is going to give them opportunities and dramatically disrupt them. It is going to level the playing field in terms of small companies being able to compete with large companies.

"The key is, are you going to be a disruptor in your industry or are you going to get disrupted?" asks Chambers.

He warns companies that if they do not learn to accept that technology will transform their businesses and have "the courage to reinvent themselves" they will be left behind, and may not exist in just a few years' time.

He says around 75% of current companies around the world will become digital companies by 2020, but only about a third of those digitisation efforts will work.

Cisco predicts that the IOT industry could bring in revenue of almost $780 billion in 2015, after being worth around $548 billion two years ago. The opportunity is also huge because 98.85% of "things" still remain unconnected according to Cisco research.

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