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.
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.
This week, I spent a few days at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando. As usual, it was a great event that provided valuable insights into the state of the industry and our clients’ mindsets. Between a number of great sessions led by Gartner analysts, the dialogue created by the 10,000+ attendees at our Cisco sessions, and myriad client interactions during the event and over dinners, I gained a palpable sense that there are many areas of common consensus and excitement around digitization.
I left the event with three key takeaways from the week:
- Digital is it – but the focus is shifting from technology to journey. Last year, “digital” was the buzz, but it was mostly a technology conversation about the SMAC stack (social, mobile, analytics, cloud) and technological approaches to becoming a digital company. This year, I noticed a distinct shift in the discussion: The business journey, and not specific technologies, dominated the conversation. What steps should I take first? Which business processes should I digitize first to achieve some early wins and financial returns? The dialogue is now all about the business, and less about the technology.
- Customers need help to determine their journeys – and they expect case studies. Numerous customers told me that the best way we could help them is by assisting them in developing their digital roadmaps. Everyone now understands the need to digitize fully, but they need help articulating the steps they should take on this journey. What sequence of steps should we take to digitize our company fully? Which processes do I tackle first, and why? Should I always start with the end-to-end customer experience? When we work with clients, we can help them map out the tailored journey that makes the most sense for their specific company in their particular industry. This point is critical: Becoming digital requires the right linkage between business and IT strategies, and an appropriate digital strategy will vary for each customer depending on the company’s current state, desired future state, positioning, and value drivers. Additionally, customers expect vendors to provide case studies detailing their own transformations and their record of successfully enabling and guiding customer transformations in the past. Our own John Manville led a session titled “Your Digital Transformation: A Best Practice and Next Steps Guide” that was a huge hit, because he shared Cisco’s record with digitization, including all of our use cases, the hard lessons we learned along the way, and the best practices we’ve developed inside Cisco. Our recent release of “Digital Transformation – 100 Customer Stories” has garnered interest from clients and partners from all over the world, as they seek to understand what’s possible and how they can get started on their own transformations.
- It’s about the insights and actions – not the dumb data! We’ve been saying for two years now that the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution isn’t about the “things” themselves – it’s about how you harness the data you get from the IoT to make better decisions and take informed actions. Gartner pushed this thinking even further this week when Peter Sondergaard, Senior Vice-President and Global Head of Research at Gartner, said: “In five years, 1 million new devices will come online every hour. These interconnections are creating billions of new relationships. These relationships are not driven solely by data, but algorithms… Data is inherently dumb. It doesn’t actually do anything unless you know how to use it, how to act with it.” Absolutely! Algorithms are critical sources of intellectual property and key drivers of business rules and value – they represent the opportunity for customers to rethink their digital business models for the next era.
If you were at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando, what were your key takeaways?
Several years ago, Cisco published predictions on the growth of Internet traffic – such as by 2017, there will be 5 devices and related connections for every Internet user worldwide. While the vision of the Internet of Things (IoT) is growing into reality, in just a couple of years, it’s expected to create more global network traffic than experienced in all prior “Internet years” combined. To leverage and prepare for the future of networked communications, businesses must transform the ways they manage their data collection and analysis. The old rules of capturing and storing information can no longer apply since the wealth of data is found not in a repository but in the place where data is actively collected – at the edge of your network.
Cisco estimates that 50 billion devices and objects will be connected online by 2020. With that in mind, can you imagine the ways your business can innovate its operations to best fulfill customer needs? Living on the edge doesn’t have to be intimidating – your journey to the edge begins with understanding the data that is vital to your business.
In your digital transition approach, begin with developing a strategic framework for your data processes:
- Real time analysis
- Data management
- Flexibility of use
Read more about edge analytics in the full article Connected Analytics: Learn to Live on the Edge – and Love It!
In September, more than 2,500 drone enthusiasts gathered in Las Vegas for world’s largest commercial drone show, InterDrone. As I touched upon in my previous blog post, people often ask about Cisco’s role in drone ecosystem. During my keynote address the audience was astonished (a big “wow” factor) to learn that drones represent a key element of Cisco’s Internet of Everything (IoE) strategy.