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The Digital Renaissance Is Here. Is Your Company’s Culture Ready?

Sooner or later we all feel like throwing up our hands and cursing the complexity of modern life. But while technology may seem the chief culprit in making things unmanageable, it is also the ultimate solution to complexity.

In the Internet of Everything (IoE) era, it is particularly important for business leaders to understand the power of technology to simplify our lives and support JBradleySAPinformed decision making. And this was a core theme at Sapphire Now 2014, an event in Orlando, Fla., that I was privileged to attend last week.

By using network technology to integrate people, process, data, and things, IoE counters complexity in unprecedented ways. In a city, this can involve something as simple as cutting the time it takes to find a (connected) parking space. Or IoE technologies can scale up to reroute traffic lights; for example, to head-off highway backups before, during, and after a large event.

In a brick-and-mortar retail setting (a key area of discussion at Sapphire Now), IoE can alleviate the complexity of managing customers, staffing, and products. With data from multiple sources comes heightened, real-time awareness, empowering managers to react faster than ever. For example, they can then stock shelves and reorganize staff in response to constantly changing levels of demand. With predictive analytics they can even respond before a customer rush begins.

The idea of hyper-aware, real-time decision-making resonated during a Sapphire Now panel discussion titled Thrive in the Digital Networks of the New Economy. I was honored to share the panel with such luminaries as Erik Brynjolfsson of MIT; Michael Chui of McKinsey Global Institute; and Jai Shekhawat, Deepak Krishnamurthy, and Vivek Bapat of SAP. And there was much discussion on the impact of bad decisions on failed organizations. Which is why we all take such an interest in technology that enables good ones.

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Driving Serious Digital Disruption, with a Spirit of Fun

Not all workdays begin with a convoy of cyclists hailing from India, Saudi Arabia, Europe, and America. And fewer still wind up with creations made of LEGOs, spaghetti, string, and marshmallows.

Yet every workday — no matter how challenging — should have the same spirit of diversity, adventure, and assumption-busting repartee that I experienced at THNK — The Amsterdam School of Creative Leadership.

Once our Cisco Consulting Services colleagues finished winding through the streets of central Amsterdam each morning, we got down to the serious business of “hacking” some key global issues, together with our friends at THNK.

THNK-NVilla

One of those issues has evolved into a Cisco/THNK partnership challenge, inwhich we will share Cisco’s expertise on the Internet of Everything (IoE) to solve some global problems around food safety and food distribution. I will speak more about the Internet of Food initiative in a subsequent blog.

Another key challenge was to foster digital disruption in the Internet of Everything (IoE) age — a time when our enterprise customers, and especially their end users, are demanding rapid transformation.

That level of change stems from the kind of open innovation and inclusive creative processes promoted by THNK in Amsterdam. Those processes are also being embraced by Cisco at our innovation hubs in such places as Rio de Janeiro, Toronto, and Songdo, South Korea. At these centers, IoE cornerstones such as cloud, mobility, Big Data analytics, and social media are already enabling digital disruption — and will continue to accelerate it.

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Is Your Company Ready for the IoE Revolution?

Ever felt that you’ve spent half your life searching for a parking space? Well, it’s not that much of an exaggeration. One study estimates that typical drivers spend 2,549 hours of their lives in the aimless, money-wasting, and gas-guzzling quest for a place to park.

Now imagine that through technology — connected cars, roads, and, of course, parking spaces — you could substantially reduce all of that wasted time and money.

IoEcarFINAL

Unfortunately, business and enterprise are rife with their own versions of wild goose chases for parking spaces: supply-chain deficiencies, checkout bottlenecks, quality-control failings, communication breakdowns, and, yes, clogged parking lots. These are but a few of the drags on productivity, efficiency, and innovation.

The solution for all these problems may be the same: connectivity.

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