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One Thousand and One Nights (of Digital Transformation)

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 »

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In the Digital Vortex, It’s All About the Value, Not the Value Chain

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 »

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The Branch: A Retail Bank’s Secret Sauce to Success

So This Guy Walks into a Branch…

I like to think of myself as a tech-savvy consumer, and that includes my banking habits. That means that I rarely step across the threshold of my bank’s branch, since most of what I need can be accessed online, or via my bank’s mobile app.

However, when it comes to complex interactions and larger spending decisions, I still prefer my local branch. What’s more, I have repeatedly gone back to the same bank as we have added new investments, even when they didn’t offer the best rate. Why? Because I value their expert advice, their understanding of my history, and, most importantly, their ability to see the whole picture — rather than just an isolated transaction.

Bank Customers Want It All

In this sense, I am not alone. The digitalization of banking has transformed customer expectations and behavior. Advances in technology have allowed customers like me to manage our own accounts remotely, from any place at any time. Yet for the more complex transactions, we still prefer personal interactions at our local branches.

Ian's blogAn annual survey of 1,000 U.S. adults for American Bankers Association (ABA) by Ipsos Public Affairs, in August, 2014 found that consumers are embracing mobile banking in ever-increasing numbers. However, in-person branch visits are still popular with many customers. Preference for branch banking had increased year over year from 2013, from 18 percent to 21 percent, and 89 percent of customers who come to the branch required advice for complex financial products.

Today’s customers expect the best of both worlds: the convenience and easy access to online banking, along with the expert advice and personal guidance from their local branch. In short, they expect a blending of the physical and virtual, a value proposition that online-only banks cannot match. Read More »

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It’s What Hotel Guests Want: Mobile. Personalized. Seamless.

I consider myself an experienced traveler and the nature of my job requires me to remain connected wherever I go. As a road warrior, I not only rely on my mobile devices to keep me connected with my team, but to get valuable information and services. These services include real-time travel updates, navigation, translation, dining recommendations, and streaming entertainment. As a hotel guest, the same relevant information and services can also be delivered directly to my mobile device. In fact, according to Forrester Research 90% of hotel guests say Wi-Fi is among their top sought hotel amenities. To support this growing demand, many hotels have cobbled together disparate systems. However, delivering a truly engaging experience requires a new approach and more innovative hotels are thinking beyond basic connectivity to engaging with their guests through a personalized mobile experience.

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The Internet of Things: Why Now?

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.

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