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Scouting the Next Big Thing: Cisco’s Technology Radar

Spotting the next innovation that could bring benefits to customers, or that could challenge the continued success of existing products, is a challenge that is front-of-mind for every company.

But keeping a finger on the pulse of every innovation that could bring such a disruption is a daunting prospect. That’s certainly true for Cisco. We are a leader in more than a dozen industry segments. As a result, we have to keep our ear close to the ground in more markets than most.

So how on earth do we do that? In a nutshell: the wisdom of a (very expert) crowd.

Experience suggests that relying on the same people who build products or services to also keep a watchful eye on disruptive innovations that could displace those self-same products can be counterproductive. Accordingly, Cisco assembled a self-nominated team of enthusiasts unaffiliated with any particular function or business unit to take up the challenge of identifying technology developments worldwide.

We call that team and the process that unearths those emerging innovations The Technology Radar.

The Technology Radar is based on the insights of 70+ globally-positioned ‘scouts’.  These volunteer scouts (all of them have other full-time jobs at Cisco) have become fundamental to Cisco’s intelligence gathering initiatives. By channeling their passion for emerging technologies, Cisco is identifying opportunities and threats that could impact our business in five, ten or even twenty-five years time.

Because of their insights, our Technology Radar now tracks approximately 90 technologies that help Cisco’s senior engineering and business leaders make informed strategic decisions on everything from product development to acquisitions.  For example, it was our Technology Radar scouts who spotted the “Internet of Everything” trend that Dave Evans has been blogging about recently, and “Power-over-Ethernet”, a technology that enables more efficient management and power consumption of electronic devices, long before they became common topics of discussion in the industry.

In capturing the wisdom of the crowd to inform company strategy, the Technology Radar joins other programs like Cisco iPrize, the company’s global innovation contest, and its iZone internal employee ideation site, as examples of Cisco’s ongoing commitment to fostering open and crowd-sourced innovation at the company.

So what are our ingenious Technology Radar scouts talking about right now? We talked to Stephan Monterde, who runs the Cisco Technology Radar program out of Switzerland, to hear about what new developments are bubbling up.

Check out this video interview with Stephan to hear more about emerging technologies, such as the Human Machine Interface.

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Laying Fiber: Creative Broadband Installations

By Howard Baldwin, Contributing Columnist

One of the most aggravating aspects of broadband deployment is the absence of a right answer. A few weeks ago, we asked Private or Public Sector: Who Should Deploy Broadband?. The answer was that there was no clear answer.

More recently, we set out to update Steve Shepard’s 2011 story about Fiber Optic Cable Installation In Sewers, looking for creative ways that companies or countries are using the existing underground passages to deploy fiber inexpensively. Same result: there was no clear answer.

Read More »

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Virtualization – A Key Enabler of Business Agility

The constant need for more speed, mobility, and insatiable demands for access to information, continues to strain the capacity of service provider networks around the globe. In essence, whatever capacity made available will be consumed.

An open question on the minds of the operators -- how can they leverage SDN to not only keep up with these demands but maintaining a highly profitable network business? Such was the topic of conversation amongst operators and our CTO, David Ward, during a panel discussion at the recent Broadband World Forum (BBWF) in Amsterdam.

What lies in the balance for operators — a plethora of Read More »

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Nominate a Nurse Today: Innovation in Technology Award

NurseIs there a nurse in your organization who has taken the lead in implementing technology in order to deliver better patient care?  If so, the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) wants to hear from you.

AONE, the national organization of nurses who design, facilitate and manage care, is now accepting nominations for the 2013 AONE Innovation in Technology Award.  This award, sponsored by Cisco, honors an outstanding nurse leader who demonstrates innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship in the implementation and adoption of information or systems technology in their organization.

Nominations must be received by 5:00 pm CST November 9, 2012. Award recipients will be notified by December 7, 2012, and will then be honored at the 2013 AONE Annual Meeting and Exposition, March 20-23 in Denver.

At the 2012 AONE Annual Meeting and Exposition, Rhonda Struck, BSN, RN, MS, vice president of quality and patient safety at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare in Glendale, Wisconsin, was awarded the 2012 AONE Innovation in Technology Award for her work in improving inpatient records while working at University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics.

Learn more and download the application.

The 2013 AONE Innovation in Technology Award is sponsored by Cisco.

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Can Manufacturers Stop the BYOD Trend or Should They Even Try?

I just finished reading Chuck Robbins’ blog on the BYOD trend and its impact on corporate culture. In the blog Chuck cites a recent study on how most executives are still uneasy about their companies’ mobile data-access policies… and it got me thinking about how manufacturers are dealing with this trend.

More and more manufacturing workers are adopting mobile technologies into their workspace, and are growing accustomed to interacting and working in a more visual, virtual, social, and mobile way.  In fact a survey conducted by Manufacturing Executive this year noted that 63% of manufacturing companies permit their employees to bring their own devices (BYOD) to work, but only  17% of manufacturing enterprises have a formal BYOD strategy with clear goals and objectives.  Manufacturers are struggling with how to create, deploy and enforce sound enterprise wide security polices around BYOD.   Protecting intellectual property is only half the concern.  Manufacturers must also consider how a breach in security will effect the safety of their workers and environment, as well as, their products.

Although security is a top of mind concern for manufacturers, the promise of deploying a sound BYOD policy can not be discounted.   Empowering employees and partners with the freedom to collaborate and access video, data and voice on an open, mobile and personal platform can produce a culture that drives operational excellence, supply chain agility, and innovation throughout the entire manufacturing value chain from the plant floor up through to R&D centers.

For example if there is a problem on the manufacturing line, an employee with access to the company directory on their personal mobile device can locate and contact a supervisor or expert using Cisco Jabber and then launch with a single click mobile Cisco WebEx mobile,  where they can show the problem using the video camera on the device and quickly collaborate to solve the problem.

Supply chains can now become more agile and flexible, because customers and the enterprise can analyze, monitor and track progress from order through successful delivery in real-time.  Data is now not just captured, stored, analyzed and delivered, but is now acted upon, presented and shared with the appropriate people and systems in real-time.

In addition, a May 2012 Cisco Connected World Technology Report found that two of five survey respondents said they would accept a lower-paying job that offered more flexibility for device choice, social media access, and mobility than a higher-paying job with less flexibility.  Crucial for an industry looking to retain and attract a qualified workforce.

Can manufactures continue to avoid the new BYOD paradigm, or are they just delaying the inevitable? Let me know your thoughts.

 

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