High stakes can ride on the telling of a story. In One Thousand and One Nights, the legendary Persian queen Scheherazade tells 1,000 stories on successive nights to save her life from the vengeful sultan. She ensnares his imagination. Her words took him to places and times he’d never witnessed, constructing wondrous realities from distant visions. A captive to the power of narrative, the sultan transforms his rule to reflect the shadow world of myth. Legend fades backwards into reality.
To many, the Internet of Everything (IoE) and Digital Transformation are no more than legend, at best a whisper of a distant future. They sound good in theory, skeptics say, but they do not really exist. More of a marketing pitch than a measurable reality. Maybe in 15 or 20 years. As for the $19 trillion value-at-stake? Somewhere between wishful thinking and a mirage in the macroeconomic desert.
At Cisco, we have hung our hat on the reality of Digital Transformation and the Internet of Everything as a pressing business reality – THE pressing business reality. As Vice President of Internet of Everything, I see this every day as I work with our partners and customers to build the future. But it’s not some vague mirage or distant vision. It is a tangible reality, and the transformation is already underway. We want you to see that, too. And so, like Scheherazade, we look to the power of narrative to show you that the castles in our minds are built with stone and mortar. I am incredibly excited to unveil Digital Transformation with the Internet of Everything– a collection of 100 real customer stories of digital transformation in action. Our team worked tirelessly to bring together this anthology of stories cutting across industries and regions. To show how real these accounts are, we made a book. A real page-turning volume you can download today. Read More »
Five years ago, the taxi industry seemed about as immune to digital disruption as any industry could be. Taxis, after all, were purely analog contraptions, far removed from digital innovation, software, apps, and the like. What’s more, their business model seemed as foolproof as the day it was created in the early 1900s: drivers prowled the streets until they spotted customers hailing a ride, drove them to their destination, and collected the fare.
Right? Well, wrong, actually. Enter Uber, and the taxi industry will never be the same.
Uber is a great example of what our recent Digital Vortex thought leadership called combinatorial disruption. In today’s climate of constant digital disruption, technologies and business models collide, combine, and recombine in startling ways. As the Digital Vortex sweeps everything of value to the center, non-digital processes fall away, to be replaced by more efficient value drivers.
In this model, the creation of new value is everything; the old value chain, meanwhile, is redefined to the point of being unrecognizable or obsolete with unnerving (for an industry incumbent) speed. Read More »
The time is ripe for an IoT explosion. The number of connected “things” in the world has skyrocketed from about a million in the early 1990s to 13 billion today. As the Internet of Everything (IoE) gains momentum—digitizing business processes in every industry—we expect to see 50 billion connected devices by 2020. The technology connecting all these devices has become affordable and easy to integrate. But that is not the primary reason for this explosion in connected devices. I believe we are entering a “golden age” of digitization because of the confluence of the following factors:
Business Relevance: Lines of business (LOBs) are emerging as a key buying center for technology. The executives running plants, oil fields, or logistics systems have realized that technology solutions can deliver business outcomes critical to their business success —beginning with improved productivity, increased uptime, and reduced costs. It used to be that LOBs would work only with specialized integrators for specific, customized solutions. Today, business leaders want to change the way they consume technology. They are looking for technology providers who, together with a comprehensive ecosystem of partners, can pull together business-relevant solutions based on open standards and architectures. To meet these needs, technology companies such as Cisco are changing how we operate and how we go to market. Cisco has invested heavily in developing vertical solutions based on horizontal capabilities. We have built deep services practices and vertical go-to-market capabilities, and have invested in a comprehensive ecosystem of partners with whom we deliver not just great technology, but solid business outcomes.
IoT adoption is being driven by the move to open standards and IT/OT convergence, helping to power better business outcomes across industries.
This week, I spent a few days at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando. As usual, it was a great event that provided valuable insights into the state of the industry and our clients’ mindsets. Between a number of great sessions led by Gartner analysts, the dialogue created by the 10,000+ attendees at our Cisco sessions, and myriad client interactions during the event and over dinners, I gained a palpable sense that there are many areas of common consensus and excitement around digitization.
I left the event with three key takeaways from the week:
Digital is it – but the focus is shifting from technology to journey. Last year, “digital” was the buzz, but it was mostly a technology conversation about the SMAC stack (social, mobile, analytics, cloud) and technological approaches to becoming a digital company. This year, I noticed a distinct shift in the discussion: The business journey, and not specific technologies, dominated the conversation. What steps should I take first? Which business processes should I digitize first to achieve some early wins and financial returns? The dialogue is now all about the business, and less about the technology.
Customers need help to determine their journeys – and they expect case studies. Numerous customers told me that the best way we could help them is by assisting them in developing their digital roadmaps. Everyone now understands the need to digitize fully, but they need help articulating the steps they should take on this journey. What sequence of steps should we take to digitize our company fully? Which processes do I tackle first, and why? Should I always start with the end-to-end customer experience? When we work with clients, we can help them map out the tailored journey that makes the most sense for their specific company in their particular industry. This point is critical: Becoming digital requires the right linkage between business and IT strategies, and an appropriate digital strategy will vary for each customer depending on the company’s current state, desired future state, positioning, and value drivers. Additionally, customers expect vendors to provide case studies detailing their own transformations and their record of successfully enabling and guiding customer transformations in the past. Our own John Manville led a session titled “Your Digital Transformation: A Best Practice and Next Steps Guide” that was a huge hit, because he shared Cisco’s record with digitization, including all of our use cases, the hard lessons we learned along the way, and the best practices we’ve developed inside Cisco. Our recent release of “Digital Transformation – 100 Customer Stories” has garnered interest from clients and partners from all over the world, as they seek to understand what’s possible and how they can get started on their own transformations.
It’s about the insights and actions – not the dumb data! We’ve been saying for two years now that the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution isn’t about the “things” themselves – it’s about how you harness the data you get from the IoT to make better decisions and take informed actions. Gartner pushed this thinking even further this week when Peter Sondergaard, Senior Vice-President and Global Head of Research at Gartner, said: “In five years, 1 million new devices will come online every hour. These interconnections are creating billions of new relationships. These relationships are not driven solely by data, but algorithms… Data is inherently dumb. It doesn’t actually do anything unless you know how to use it, how to act with it.” Absolutely! Algorithms are critical sources of intellectual property and key drivers of business rules and value – they represent the opportunity for customers to rethink their digital business models for the next era.
If you were at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando, what were your key takeaways?