Forrester: The X Internet is coming (for real this time)

Forrester Research is pitching an "IT everywhere" vision that's comprised of existing technologies as well as some emerging trends--including the X Internet where physical objects are networked to the Web.

Forrester Research is pitching an "IT everywhere" vision that's comprised of existing technologies as well as some emerging trends--including the X Internet where physical objects are networked to the Web.

In a report, Forrester analyst Bobby Cameron concludes:

Today’s technology trends may appear like only incremental changes compared with historic changes like ERP and the Internet, but Forrester believes that we are in the initial phases of a major technology innovation and growth wave called “IT everywhere.” We are witnessing multiple trends that, when combined, will drive a dramatic change in technology adoption and use.

Many of the technologies and trends--service oriented architecture, business process management, mobile technology and Web 2.0 and enterprise data management--are well known, but what caught my eye was the X Internet discussion. The X Internet term refers to connecting physical objects to the Internet via RFID and sensors. In theory, the X Internet will create new business processes and remote monitoring and control of physical assets. Just an aside it almost sounds like the beginning of Cybernet from the Terminator series but I digress.

Forrester writes:

In 2001, Forrester reported that the next tidal wave of innovation will eclipse the Internet as we know it: It will involve an Extended Internet that connects physical objects to the Internet to provide an unprecedented view into the life of products, assets, or even people. But while some innovative companies like BP and Caterpillar have experienced early success with the Extended Internet, most companies have barely scratched the surface. That’s about to change, as a potent mix of business pressures and technology enablers will bring Extended Internet deployments into the mainstream during the next seven years.

That next seven years note comes with a footnote, which reads:

A host of business pressures — coupled with more mature RFID, wireless, and sensor technologies — will spur mainstream companies to adopt Extended Internet technologies. Expect businesses to deploy the Extended Internet in three phases: 1) tactical deployments; 2) adjacent process rollouts; and 3) widespread business process redefinition. While these stages differ in scope, they have one thing in common: At every step, business owners — and not IT — drive the investments. What does it mean? Vendors will win with process-centric ecosystems, and innovative users will turn process innovation into new lines of business.

A few reported examples include:

  • Caterpillar using GPS systems to guide machines in a mining field and track equipment failures;
  • Michelin using RFID tags to track its tires in the supply chain;
  • Delta using sensors to monitor equipment and cut maintenance costs.

If anything Forrester was 7 years ahead of its time with its mainstream X Internet deployment prediction. Is it closer to the mark this go round?

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