So, I heard last week that some folks want to be known as innovators, which is certainly a laudable goal. The thing is, innovation is the domain of engineers, not accountants and, sadly, not even marketing folks. Face it, when accountants get innovative, we end up with things like Enron—not so good. Delivering meaningful innovation to the market starts as an organizational imperative that has to then be nurtured with an ongoing commitment of time and resources. You simply cannot fake it.
For example, let’s look at R&D spend last year some of the industry’s movers and shakers (all data is based on their respective FY10 annual reports):
As I noted in a previous post, I am pleased to note that Cisco remains near the top of the pile both in terms of R&D investment as a percent of revenue and in terms of absolute dollars. For other folks, the numbers and the historical trends speak for themselves. Talk (and slides) are cheap. These are meaningful numbers because they represent both the commitment and the ability of a company to innovate and lead versus being forced to follow.
If you are a Cisco customer, this should please you because you know we are investing in your future, but, beyond that, why should you care?
As many of you are aware, this week the Interop tradeshow is taking place in Las Vegas.
Did you know that Cisco is the primary sponsor of the show’s InteropNet? InteropNet is a world-class, fully IPv6-enabled network powering the 15,000-attendee and 400-exhibitor tradeshow complete with dual-stack IPv6 capabilities to all capable endpoints. This is the first-ever show network to be “dual-stack” with IPv4 and IPv6 running side-by-side and it highlights Cisco’s IPv6 leadership. For more info on our IPv6 activities, please click here.
In addition, those of you stopping by the Cisco booth (booth 1127) will notice demos of our latest solutions including the new Cisco ISR Cloud Web Security with Cisco ScanSafe solution announced today. This solution seamlessly extends ScanSafe Cloud Web Security to branch offices and provides scalable, centralized Web protection and malware detection on the Cisco ISR G2 branch router and requires no additional hardware.
With this solution, organizations can easily deploy cloud-based Web security and Web usage policies, enabling highly secure local Internet access for all branch offices and users while saving time, money, and resources associated with traditional hardware deployments. The cloud service delivery model and central user account administration also make Cisco ScanSafe easy to deploy, manage and maintain via remote IT staff.
For more information on this plus the rest of today’s news (including mobility updates), please click here.
The resiliency and determination of America’s sense of justice was thrust into a spirit of rejoicing on Sunday evening May 1, 2011, when President Barack Obama addressed the world, confirming Osama bin Laden’s demise in Pakistan. While watching the breaking TV news coverage, I began to share that sense of accomplishment and joy, less for the act of neutralizing the thought leader and chief architect of 9/11 and other atrocities against Americans, and more for the fortitude and resolve demonstrated by the U.S. commander-in-chief, our military forces, and intelligence agencies. I found myself thinking of what this type of public resolve implies for the future state of our Manufacturing economy in the U.S., whose resurgence is essential to the country’s defenses, global leadership, and the health and prosperity of our citizens, along with those of other democratic nations.
President Obama’s determination coming into office in January 2009 to recommit U.S. resources to bring justice to bin Laden, and the U.S. intelligence and military’s subsequent success bodes well as I consider his commitment to U.S. manufacturing competitiveness, infrastructure build-out and job creation articulated during the President’s January 2011 State of the Union address. During the last several quarters, I have had the privilege to present on behalf of Cisco to the Office of the President as part of the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (SMLC), a broad cross section of manufacturers, technology suppliers, manufacturing consortia, government laboratories and research universities across industry segments pulling together to recommend programs to revitalize U.S. manufacturing.
I was reminiscing with a friend recently about NRF shows past, and the graveyard of consumer-facing retail technology ideas.
Yikes. Lots of ghosts. Even a few zombie ideas that refuse to die (cart tablets, anyone?). The big question is why – with the exception of self-service – have so few new “breakthrough” ideas found acceptance?
Here’s a hypothesis: Caught in an ever-fast cycle of innovation, the sales and engineering departments – understandably – always seek more. More headroom. More functionality. More interoperability.
We dream of the possible. We dream of platforms, of vendor lock-in, of recurring streams of high-margin revenue, of bosses pinning ribbons to our medaled chests. Ignore the cost implications for a moment. (As grave as they may be, given the expense of rolling something out to all stores.)
Here’s what we too often forget: Shoppers dream of ease and simplicity.
A 2009 McKinsey study on consumers’ use of electronics devices sheds some light on the matter. Less than one-third of all consumers use the advanced features of any CE device – and less than one-halfeven know that the features exist.
Allow those factoids to simmer for a moment. Think of the hours of brilliant engineering innovation that most consumers simply ignore -- that for most is too complicated, too complex. Brilliant engineering innovation that brings joy to the engineer, but immediate dismissive frustration from the consumer who simply wants to watch a movie.
Simplicity is the byword of the McKinsey paper. Simplicity in functionality. Simplicity in usability. A quick glance, and you know how to use it and what to do. A quick glance, and you know why it matters. The learning curve: a straight line north.
But it’s not just simplicity. Just as important is the usability – perhaps defined for retail as simplicity in context. Who’ll use it? When? Why? To what benefit? Consider the mother-of-two-in-a-hurry at the modern mega-grocery/mass retailer. Consider, for a moment, the value of a cart tablet to her. See wailing children pounding on the screen. Weep.
The very smart and always wise Bob Anderson, former CTO at Best Buy, points us to the “popcorn” button on the microwave as a perfect guide for consumer-facing technology. No questions. Immediate understanding of value. One push and sixty seconds equals hot buttery-salted goodness.
Food for thought.
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The ultimate cultural vision of video streaming was laid out in an iconic Qwest TV commercial from 1999. In it, a man wanders into a dusty, remote motel asking about room amenities. It’s not promising. The bored young lady behind the desk recites in an apathetic tone that the beds are all king-size, and the only breakfast offered is donuts and coffee.
But when the man asks about entertainment, that’s a little different. In the same monotone, the girl answers, “All rooms have every movie ever made in every language any time day or night.” It’s taken a while — probably longer than the technoptomists among us expected — but we’re getting closer to that vision.
For one thing, according to a survey recently conducted by Goldman Sachs and reported by HedgeFundLive, 27 percent of Americans now stream TV shows and movies, up from 16 percent in 2010.