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Earth-shattering changes spurred on by Internet

Amazed at how quickly Internet-based technology has spread?

You ain’t seen nothing yet, says Dean La Riviere, Cisco Systems Inc.’s director of partner operations for Western Canada.

Speaking Monday at Graycon Group Ltd.’s 2014 TechShow in Red Deer, La Riviere pointed out that there are currently about 13 billion devices connected to the Internet worldwide. That count is expected to balloon to 50 billion by 2020.

“What’s happening in the marketplace today is nothing less than earth-shattering,” he said.

In the early days of the Internet, the focus was connectivity through email, web browsers and other means, said La Riviere. Then came digitization of business processes — or e-commerce, and today the emphasis is on social networking, mobility, cloud computing and video.

Next, he said, will be the extension of the Internet from the “world of things” to the “world of everything.”

Internet-connected devices are already ubiquitous, ranging from smartphones to vehicles, said La Riviere.

“BMW is going to have 10 million cars enabled by next year,” he said, describing how these vehicles will be able to undergo diagnostic checks and have their performance optimized remotely.

La Riviere played a video of Cisco’s chief futurist, Dave Evans, talking about a world in which our health will be monitored via sensors, the timing of our alarm clocks will be determined by the day’s traffic volumes, and the temperature of our homes will by adjusted based on weather patterns.

La Riviere compared this transformation to past technological shifts like the development of railroads and the widespread availability of electricity.

In the past three years, he said, 300,000 software applications have been developed. And it’s expected that there will be 70 billion downloads worldwide, next year alone.

“Mobile data will grow 18-fold in five years,” said La Riviere.

The business opportunities related to this technological revolution are tough to predict, said La Riviere.

He quoted Georgetown University professor Michael Nelson as saying, “Trying to determine the market size for the Internet of things is like trying to calculate the market for plastics, circa 1940. At that time, it was difficult to imagine that plastics could be in everything.”

“We think it’s about $19 trillion of value at stake over the next 10 years,” said La Riviere, placing the figure for Canada at $57 billion.

Companies are making huge investments in information technology development and integration, he said, with the business needs of their clients increasingly driving the process.

He cited a prediction by John Chambers, Cisco’s CEO and executive chairman. Chambers expects that the Internet will undergo five to 10 times more changes in the next decade than it did during the preceding 25 years.

Such forecasts seem reasonable, based on the growing volumes of information being generated and shared.

“In 2012 alone, the world created more data than the previous 5,000 years combined,” said La Riviere.

The 2014 TechShow involved more than 25 IT companies from Canada and the United States. It was one of three organized by Graycon this spring, with the others in Kelowna, B.C., and Saskatoon, Sask.



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