Cisco Views the World as Mass of 'Dark Assets' Waiting to Be Connected

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- When Cisco (CSCO) executive Joseph Bradley sees a problem, be it in retail, manufacturing, the public sector, or financial services, his first question is, "What is the dark asset?" In other words, what can be connected to the Internet.

On Wednesday morning, Bradley, the vice president of the Internet of Everything Practice at Cisco, spoke at Internet Week New York about the vast opportunities on getting everything connected to the Internet and how companies can leverage these opportunities to solve their own problems by making sure to focus on the consumer connection.

"Internet of Everything is great, but unfortunately just connecting things isn't enough," Bradley said. "What we found when we started thinking about this was value is not found in simply connecting a thing, but value is found in a connection itself, and we define a connection as having four elements: people, process, data, and things."

Whether you call it the "Internet of Things," the "Internet of Everything," or just "Connected Devices," this industry is here to stay. Just consider the fact that connected devices outnumber the world's population by 1.5 to 1, according to Cisco. This ubiquity is translating to a huge business opportunity. Cisco estimates the market of connected devices to reach $19 trillion by 2022 -- $14.4 trillion in the private sector and $4.6 trillion in the public sector.

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Cisco began investing in the Internet of Everything three years ago and has continued to emphasize the category as a priority.

"The opportunities that are ahead of us as we move into the Internet of Everything are very real," Cisco CEO John Chambers said during the company's third-earnings conference call. "We look at the increased security requirements and the demand for security consultancy services. We also focused on the need to manage and capture insights for data distribution across the enterprise and network. We are moving rapidly to build the capabilities across our portfolio to differentiate Cisco's leadership in the Internet of Everything."

Cisco stands to benefit monetarily from these investments by selling its own security and solutions when companies decide to create connected solutions. "We don't enter markets where we don't have a good chance of getting to 40% market share with sustainable differentiation," Chambers said during the call.

At Internet Week, Bradley gave a specific example of how Cisco is applying the Internet of Everything in the retail world.

Retailers had asked Cisco for help in reducing line length at physical stores, and so Bradley's team's first move was to find the dark assets: parking lots and shopping carts. By connecting those two things, Cisco was able to track consumers and predict when they would approach the checkout. This system could alert the retailer 40 minutes ahead of when lines would get noticeably longer so that they could add extra staff at checkout and prepare in advance.

According to Cisco, more than 99% of things are unconnected, meaning there's a lot of work to be done and a lot of problems to be solved. This positions Cisco well as it hopes to be the middleman and enabler of the Internet of Everything.

"Market transitions are very hard to find," Bradley said. "We at Cisco, we don't get it all right, no company does, but the question is how do you get ready."

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