Have you ever learned a new word and then suddenly heard it being used everywhere? It’s a bit like stubbing your toe. You almost don’t know they are down there til it hurts and suddenly it’s everywhere!

The phrase “the Internet of Everything” (IOE) was coined in 1999 by British technology pioneer Kevin Ashton. It has been in increasing use ever since. And this term is one I’d never heard of until very recently. Now, I’m tripping over it almost daily – like a sore toe!

IOE refers to the massive explosion in connectivity the world is experiencing and the fact that devices, and people, are increasingly connected in an exponentially growing fashion. It is estimate, for example, that in the U.S. there will be over a trillion sensors (cameras for example) connected to the internet.

The growth of connectivity is amazingly fast! In 1994 there were 25 million people worldwide with internet access. Most of that painfully slow dialup. Today 2.9 billion people have access and much of this via high speed broad band. Significantly 85% of the population in the U.S. has internet access! Today 40% of the world population has access. It is forecast that within ten years virtually 100% of the world will have access.

For example consider that a teenager living a nomadic existence in the Sahara desert has a smart phone with more computing power than any of the “super computers” had in 1994! Cell phone and internet connectivity in Africa has grown so fast that they have skipped the “wireline” development phase of development. They will never need it!

Turning to America online usage has become so predominant that the typical person checks his or her smartphone 150 times a day. Sixty two per cent of them grab their phone immediately after waking up in the morning!   $272,000 is spent in online shopping every single minute of the day and this pace is accelerating dramatically.

Within 5 years technologists estimate that people will be able to routinely attend remote meetings in a virtual reality environment as if they were there. Online shopping will be revolutionized with portable scanners to allow custom fitting of clothes and everything will be sold customized or with an immediate return even better than Zappos.com does it now.

What does all this mean to the small agent?

I don’t think I know for certain. I am convinced however, that to be in business at all will require a highly interactive web experience optimized for mobile use. So, getting started today makes sense. You must have a website and then you must make it better and better. In five years customers must be able to buy insurance on your site with no human interaction.

I also think that there will be tremendous opportunities for what I call hyper niching. You will be able to find people with not just one or two things in common but potentially dozens. With insurance products tailored to them your market is at least as big as the U.S.

The internet data that is being created by all this interaction will be analyzed in increasingly sophisticated ways. The science of data analytics is making quantum strides every year and one result of all of this is that insurance carriers will be able to evaluate agents in much more sophisticate ways – and importantly – pay them for results in many more permutations than they do today.

So, the immediate future is ripe with opportunity for agents. It also poses threats. Business will change radically in the next few years. Are you prepared or preparing? At OAA, on behalf of our members, we are.

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