Internet of Everything’s future will change perceptions in manufacturing, daily lives
Industry experts discussed their predictions for what the Internet of Everything (IoE) will look like in 2025 during a panel discussion at Cisco Live in San Diego. The group consisted of professionals in manufacturing, information technology (IT), and the food and beverage industries. The panelists agreed that the IoE will become smarter and more ingrained in our day-to-day processes, but that there will be challenges-both technological and cultural-in the present and the future. Other terms for IoE include Internet of Things (IoT) and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
Moderator Joseph Bradley, vice president of Cisco’s IoE global practice, said, "By 2025, when all the answers are known, knowing what question to ask is still the key."
According to Bradley, the IoE’s evolution will enhance and improve the information marketplace, which is currently in a paradox. Consumers, he said, want personalization in their service on the Internet, but they remain wary about giving companies their personal information. As companies deliver more value, there will be a greater willingness on the customers’ part to provide personal information.
The potential impact of the IoE in the workplace, according to Bradley, will be dramatic. By 2025, 50% of the resources that companies access will not be full-time employees. The number of resources a company has and how efficiently it uses them will define the company more than by the number of employees it has.
John Meister, the senior vice president and chief information officer of Panera Bread, talked about the evolution of biometrics in relation to the IoE. He imagines a situation where people can monitor their activities and their health in real time in a seamless and efficient manner. And this ability to monitor activity will work both ways, as employers will be able to monitor activity and look for a way to maximize worker efficiency—especially as the "traditional" concept of an employee changes.
This blurring of lines will extend to how businesses interact with one another. Kate O’Keeffe, Cisco Hyperinnovation Living Labs (CHILL), predicted that by 2025, "the era of large corporations being humbled by start-ups in innovations is over." That said, the era of start-ups won’t end because the need for innovation and collaboration will increase as the world becomes more interconnected, she said.
Rowan Trollope, SVP/GM for Cisco’s Collaboration Technology Group, referenced the 1985 film Back to the Future as he talked about technology’s evolution. "We underestimate how much we can achieve in a long period of time and overestimate how much we can achieve in a long period of time," he said. He also predicted that, "Moore’s Law will achieve the computing power that is the equivalent of the power of a human brain."
Trollope agreed with Meister that technology will become more ingrained in people’s lives. "The best watch is no watch because you know what time it is all the time," he said. "Companies will be inventing technology that will disappear and integrate into our daily lives."
Trollope added that communication among people will change and improve because of technology. He said that communication right now is better person-to-person. In the future, technology will augment and enhance communication on a digital level and make the connections more powerful as a result.
Joe Kann, vice president of global business development, Rockwell Manufacturing, was more measured in his prediction. He said employment in manufacturing will continue to drop because technology will become more integrated and connected. The IoE’s continued ability to integrate machines and technology will reduce the need for human employment in manufacturing.
"In 1985, 25% of the U.S. workforce was involved in manufacturing. In 2015, it’s down to 12%. By 2025, 4% to 5% of the workforce will be involved in manufacturing," he said.
Kann added that while this means there will be fewer manufacturing jobs, it will also open up new avenues of employment, and it will allow people to work jobs that are less dangerous and less physically taxing.
The panel closed with a discussion about the potential barriers to this future in manufacturing.
O’Keeffe talked about the cultural barrier with the IoE and how innovations today are being done in an industrial age where every innovation was sheltered. Breaking down those barriers, she said, is vital for the IoE to flourish. Trollope talked about cultural barriers as it relates to people losing their jobs and how people need to realize that machines are capable of doing the potentially dangerous jobs that we don’t want to do. Kann talked about better security and integration in the workplace and how those need to evolve because the IoE is more open than what companies have been used to in the past.
Meister also touched on the issue of privacy, but more on a personal level as well as the ability to be mentally agile in our day-to-day activities.
– Chris Vavra is production editor, Control Engineering, CFE Media, email@example.com.
Learn more about the IoE and Industry 4.0 and the potential it has for the engineering workforce.