Dedicated devices are set to be replaced by apps in three years time, predicts Cisco, with network routers among other networking products expected to run multiple apps at once.
Guido Jouret, the general manager of Cisco's Internet of Things (IoT) business group, told CBR: "Any companies in the industrial world that today builds a dedicated single purpose device...what's going to happen is that - something what Marc Andreessen said on software eating the world - those dedicated devices are going to disappear and get turned into apps.
"It's a little bit like why young people don't buy alarm clocks anymore - they just use the alarm clock app on their smartphone. There are dedicated devices in the industrial world but they're going to get turned into pure software and those devices are probably going to get left behind."
When asked when he would see some of these changes occurring in the industry, he said:
"I think we're going to see a pretty rich ecosystem of developers, applications and companies all developing further stuff probably within the next two to three years.
"We're on a journey, again similar to maybe what happened in the smartphone market, if you go back to the iPhone, which was five or six years ago. In the first year, there were no third party applications available from Apple. Then, once they opened it up to an app store concept, allowing in app developers, it grew very quickly.
"But then again, it's a little bit difficult to compare because the markets are definitely slower to migrate in the industrial space than in the consumer space."
Although new factories will get built with the technology from "the get go", according to Jouret, older factories will be part of a longer transition.
"When those factories get refurbished, which could be ten to 20 years, they will then migrate to this, so this is going to be part of a longer transition in terms of how this whole industrial landscape will end up getting changed and again that's probably going to be decades in the making."
The forecast comes not too long after Cisco rolled out a new platform it claims will help businesses better manage the larger amounts of data that will come from the Internet of Things (IoT).
The IOx platform equips Cisco devices including routers and IP cameras with applications to store and process data closer to where they are connected, instead of having to push that data back over the network and into a data centre.
"These are examples of the kinds of logic that we believe will happen at the network edge. It's really saying instead of back in the data centre or home office, it's right on the lorry or close to your home with a router that some of the decisions will need to be made. And the more decisions made there, the more that these applications become intelligent," explained Jouret.
The fog computing platform integrates the Linux operating system with Cisco's own Internetworking operating system (IOS) onto a single networked device, allowing applications to operate and respond to data created by IoT.
Jouret highlighted several use cases for IOx.
"Imagine a world where in every city, these routers that are hanging from the poles can run not just one application, they're not only able to do street lighting, they can do traffic lights coordination, city Wi-Fi, help provide connectivity for the parking slots and a number of other things," said Jouret.
He also hopes fog computing will encourage developers to develop industry-specific applications and interfaces for transport and manufacturing among other industry sectors.
Jouret said the platform will become available on Cisco's CGR 1240 connected grid routers and 819 integrated service routers in the next few months.