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Mobile? Wearables? Small change. For several years, Cisco has been thinking bigger, when the Internet fully becomes the Internet of Everything … and it has released its most recent study on the subject, which says about $99 billion is being left on the table this year by retailers that aren’t as connected to their operations as they could be.

The study outlines the top five ways to connect people, process, and things for more business value, and it adds that $540 billion will be unrealized this year by all the less-than-totally-connected industries, including telecoms, financial services, health care, transportation, energy, and others.

‘Dark data’

Take what Cisco calls “dark data” in stores. Like dark energy, it’s been there all along, except we couldn’t really use it. Think video surveillance cameras or real-time analysis of shopper traffic in stores, as well as more conventional sources like social media. Cisco points out that they can all be used to predict trends and customer flow.

There’s also the acquisition of customer information in exchange for personalized recommendations or customer service, the use of RFIDs and sensors throughout a supply chain to gain better inventory control, intelligent stock management and shelf sensing, and feedback/sharing between employees via mobile devices to maximize staff productivity.

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Cisco’s version of the Internet of Everything captures data and exchanges information from every part of a company’s operation, parsing the data stream for real-time intelligence and insights – machine-to-machine, machine-to-people and people-to-people. Retailers, who are trying to figure out where the next tech disruption is going to be, are obviously listening to Cisco’s pitch, which takes a number of current trends – RFIDs, for instance, or social media analytics – and rolls it up into one big ball.

The new, new nervous system

But at its most-everything peak, the Internet of Everything could go far beyond the commercial needs depicted in Cisco’s vision. It could become sensors communicating more social dynamics in your pupils’ dilation than you have ever noticed, videos recognizing each others’ imagery and exchanging comments between themselves, or eating habits changing because we know too much about how well-stocked our refrigerators are.

Retailers will sell us more things, faster and cheaper, but that’s only the money part. In other words, if you thought today’s Internet is the extent of our new nervous system, hang on to your hats.

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