I come across many business plans that utilize the Cisco VNI, and these business plans and business often speak of it as gospel. I’ve even seen other analyst reports refer to the Cisco VNI as well. The Cisco VNI has been a great tool for many of us in the industry, and I have been reading it for as long as it’s been available, which is at least 10 years running. And it’s a great tool for sure, one of the best.
But is it right? I decided to take a look at what the Cisco VNI said about traffic in 2016 – first what the VNI predicted it would be five years before, and then what the VNI said it would be a year later. This is what is in the chart above. The scale to the left is Terabytes/month.
Overall the VNI predicts almost unbelievable amounts of traffic. So much that it is hard to comprehend. And really, predicting five years out for anything is an incredibly hard thing to do. Directionally, I can state that what the VNI predicts is coming to fore. No doubt about that.
However, if you use the Cisco VNI not as a tool of many tools, but as the definitive report from which to formulate a business plan, that’s a bit harder to justify. I did some analysis of 2016 – first what was predicted of 2016 five years earlier, and then what the 2017 report said what actually happened in 2016. I looked at just a few data points that are hot today – video traffic and M2M traffic.
Of the analysis I did, the overall traffic predicted for 2016 was overstated by 33%, M2M was overstated by 69%, and video traffic was overstated by 43%. However, it should be pointed out that smartphone traffic was understated by 13%.
So just be wary of using only the Cisco VNI when creating outlooks and business plans. For me this is still the definitive report of its kind, and there is no doubt that it is directionally correct. If it predicts gigantic growth in a certain area, it’s probably going to happen, but just be wary about creating very specific financial numbers from this report.