20 billion Internet-connected devices

Ten years ago, the number of devices connected to the Internet was under a billion.

Now, that number has exploded to 20 billion and it will continue to increase. Mobile computing, driverless connected cars and interactive fridges are a reality.

John Chambers, the executive Chairman of Cisco Systems, has been involved in building the infrastructure of the Internet since the 1980s.

On his trip to Doha this week, we asked him where he sees the future, what economies will lead the next Internet evolution and why the Arab World has the potential to leapfrog other countries in terms of innovation.

Presenting his digital outlook for the future, Chambers notes, “You’re going to have three to five times the impact of the Internet in this new digital era. You can call it the fourth generation of technology or a digital revolution – that every country, every city, every company in the world, every person goes digital”.

“As you do this, the economic benefit is probably $19-21 trillion, which translates to one to four percent GDP for every country in the world. What it will do is completely transform every industry, every country, every city – that as you transform, you can do something the Internet didn’t do – if it’s done right, you can make it really inclusive across the 7.5 billion people around the world.”

While France and India are finding creative ways of connecting their societies, “the Arab World could leapfrog and skip a generation in leadership and perhaps bring peace in the Middle East by using the power of digitisation and creating a large middle class, largely through startups and small businesses getting much larger”.

“Maybe a dream, maybe a reality,” said Chambers.

In terms of the interconnectivity of our daily lives, Chambers offered an interesting point: “When Cisco started in 1984, there were 1,000 devices connected to the Internet. Today, there are 17 billion.

“In 10 years, 500 billion. The whole key is to get the right information, at the right time, to the right machine, to the right person to make the right decision. The end result will be new business models. You will probably live five to 10 years longer because we’ll improve the quality of healthcare so much.”

“We’ve found cures for cancer, something we wouldn’t have done otherwise. We’ll be able to cater the medicine that we take to the uniquenesses of your DNA with a much higher success rate. We have the potential to dramatically increase the income of every person in the world and to educate people more like our kids learn.”

Al Jazeera

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20 billion Internet-connected devices