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Cisco Innovations, Moving Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

As Kevin Sullivan points out in his recent blog, partnerships are an important strategic approach to today’s R&D and innovation.  Kevin recommends strategies that industry-winning manufacturers can follow.

Investments in innovation are exciting.  They inspire creativity and they fuel our economy.

What an afternoon of innovation looks like at Cisco

I was thrilled to discover that an institute for manufacturing innovation was recently launched in Youngstown, Ohio.  This effort embodies a publicly and privately-funded partnership aimed at fueling R&D and innovation.  Along with the U.S. federal government, a consortium of impressive manufacturing firms, universities, community colleges and non-profit organizations formed a partnership called the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII).  They contributed a combined $70M to the Youngstown manufacturing innovation effort.

Motivated resources from a variety of academic, manufacturing and business backgrounds will come together to advance technology and manufacturing.  And what will this Youngstown institute focus on first?  Additive manufacturing.  What is additive manufacturing?  It’s the more formal name for 3D printing.  And it’s quite cool.

But what does 3D printing have to do with Cisco?

Read More »

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R & D Moves to Partnership Model: Technology Strategy is Critical

Recently, the Economist highlighted the shift from government funded models to private funded models for R & D.  As we know, R&D serves as the font of new ideas and leads to mass transformation of industries.  Concepts such as the internet and satellite communications resulted in part from publicly funded R&D.
This is a real change for leading corporations. This puts more pressure on manufacturing companies to find and leverage key technologies to deliver new products and compete.  Most manufacturing companies focus on core capabilities. They typically licensed or purchased technologies that enabled continued operation.  But these were not partnerships. This could be very effective for a ‘fast follower’ company.  Innovative companies have typically used a range of R & D funding sources, especially internal, to fuel innovation.
But the rules are changing! New industries are emerging that require a new strategic approach to R&D and innovation. Companies that do not adapt will be disrupted. Read More »

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Internet of Things Without Ecopartners? Not Possible!
By Kevin Sullivan, Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG)

Many companies are developing new market offerings for services that connect products with services from the OEM. This is a great way to create value and increase revenue. Done correctly, it can also increase “stickiness” or loyalty with customers. It delivers  competitive advantage since many customers will rely on services-based capabilities to manage costs and reduce capital spend.
But manufacturing companies developing Internet of Things (IoT)-based strategies face difficult choices: They need a wide array of capabilities to execute the strategy—not just internal engineering of a new product, but also new sensors, communications, analytics, and remote services. These involve strategic partners that offer a specific technology for communications such as service providers, sensor companies, and technology companies that provide embedded switching, routing, and other products.
Innovation in manufacturing requires several key elements. The Strategic approaches requires focusing on scans of external as well as internal technologies,  managing ecopartners and market interactions. Market leaders need to focus on the technology strategy and ecopartner-management process to be successful.
Future leaders will need to rethink their strategy to include partners in the ecosystem. Cisco IBSG is working with several leading manufacturing companies on these new strategies, with significant results.
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Keywords: Cisco, IBSG, Internet of Things, ecopartners, manufacturing, innovation, technology, strategy, ecopartner management

Productivity Gains Through Culture, Visuality, and Collaboration (Part 4): Building a Business Case for Collaboration

Collaboration is again on my mind as I prepare to board a giant Airbus A380—the largest passenger jet in service today—for the long flight from San Francisco to India via Frankfurt.

I think about the various problems reported about the A380 program. The plane was essentially built in France and finished in Germany. The two locations used different versions of engineering software to design the aircraft’s incredibly complex wiring and electronics. Needless to say, the designs were not compatible, leading to an enormous amount of rework and production delays. This resulted in higher production costs, canceled orders, and billions of euros in lost revenue. It is doubtful that the A380 program will ever be a commercial success for Airbus.

Could more effective collaboration and communications capabilities have prevented this scenario? I think so. In fact, the business case for improved collaboration has never been clearer. Read More »

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Productivity Gains Through Culture, Visuality, and Collaboration (Part 3): Extended Workplace Visuality and Pervasive Collaboration

In Part 2, I explained why organizational culture and leadership are probably the most important factors contributing to gains in employee productivity and innovation. This week, I’d like to describe two additional, highly essential enablers: extended workplace visuality and pervasive collaboration.

Extended Workplace Visuality: A visual workplace is one in which information needed to collaborate, engage, and stay productive is made available at the right time and place, rather than hidden away in spreadsheets and other documents on various employees’ laptops.

Visual displays have complemented lean manufacturing practices on the plant floor for many years, significantly reducing work-in-process inventories and manufacturing lead times, while driving cost and quality improvements. Visual thinking has also been adopted in environments such as airports and hospitals to improve operations, customer service, safety, and quality. Read More »

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