Today the Internet is considered a basic human right - a far cry from the functional communication tool it started out as, some 25 years ago. Since then, the network has played an instrumental role in transforming industries, empowering individuals, winning elections and even revolutionising nations.
So it's fair to say that we are currently squarely at the heart of its heyday, wouldn't it? Actually, I believe we're only just scratching the surface of what the Internet will mean for humanity in the long run. Despite everything that is already connected to the network, more than 99% of the world is still unconnected; creating a situation that's ripe for further evolution.
And we're increasingly seeing the world seize that opportunity for evolution. We're entering a new age - that of the 'Internet of Everything' (IoE) - in which we're going to connect the unconnected on a mass scale -- be it people, process, data or things. And in this newly connected world it's not overstating it to say that anything will be possible. We're right at the very beginning, with many as-yet unimaginable iterations ahead of us.
For example, when John Logie Baird invented the TV in 1926 there's no doubt that was a seminal moment, a significant step the history of technology, indeed mankind in general. I suspect Logie Baird probably had some inkling that his invention had the potential to make a real mark on the world; but I also have no doubt that if you'd told him that someday we'd be able to watch live television broadcast directly onto a full wall sized high definition screen, he might have found that impossible to contemplate.
Similarly, if you'd tried to tell Alexander Graham Bell that his invention as he knew it would, over time, transform into the pocket sized computers we carried around in our pockets today, he certainly wouldn't have believed you.
Of the ideas that come out of this new age of IoE, the ones that work will undoubtedly change the world and will be bigger than any one idea or company - although, understandably, I think some have already made a very positive head start so far.
The IoE will offer unprecedented opportunities for individuals, businesses and countries. As individuals, we experience the world through our senses and the IoE gives things that were once silent a voice; making it an integral part of how we sense, understand and manage our world. For businesses - which are all about delivering value to customers - IoE will create new opportunities for greater optimisation and efficiencies. And at the country level, these new connections provide the potential to deliver the transparency and cohesive, comprehensive services that citizens need and demand.
To make the most of the potential will require cooperation, imagination, ambition, investment and pragmatism across the board. New business models, unexpected partnerships and significant cultural shifts will be the order of the day. We are now where John Logie Baird and Alexander Graham Bell were then - what remains to be seen is just how we grab our own opportunities for the greater benefit of humanity; because in the end, that will be the only measure that counts.