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New Berlin Innovation Center Accelerates ‘Network Multiplier’

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Not your typical Cisco office: openBerlin is ready to innovate with the best startups and accelerators.

At yesterday’s inauguration of Cisco’s ninth Innovation Center in the world, Berlin’s smartest new facility was abuzz with startup-like excitement for the possibilities of what the new digital world can deliver. I mingled with Cisco colleagues, customers, partners, app developers, entrepreneurs, thought leaders and the media in our latest showcase working lab, embedded with more than 10,000 sensors and all the networking hardware and software needed to co-innovate industrial solutions around the Internet of Things (IoT).

Indeed, the world is increasingly more connected. Some 13 billion devices are now connected through the Internet. And now, openBerlin, a Cisco® Innovation Center will link with an inter-connected network of eight other Innovation Centers in major cities around the world, sharing local expertise to support development of the latest outcome-based solutions that can be scaled and replicated globally. Read More »

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The Future of Smart Cities

In the future, all cities will be smart cities. With more than one-half of the world’s population living in cities innovative new IoT solutions, such as smart parking, connected waste, and traffic management, hold great promise for combatting the major challenges of rapid urbanization. We are unlikely to see many Jetson-like smart cities of the future appearing overnight. However, like in the past with the adoption of revolutionary technologies such as sewers, electricity, traffic lights, and the Internet, mayors will slowly implement IoT solutions to save money, shape the future and make their cities better places to live.

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The Internet of Things offers cities the unique opportunity to generate new revenue, save costs, improve efficiencies and increase the overall value and experience for its citizens. Solutions like smart lighting can greatly reduce a city’s expenditure on electricity and operations, while at the same time improving the safety and security of the inhabitants. Smart parking not only allows people to spend less time in their car searching for an open parking spot, it actually creates new sources of revenue for the city. Parking can now be priced on a variable, demand-driven basis, rather than a fix fee irrespective of the time of day. Such pricing flexibility allows rush-hour spots to generate much higher revenues than those available on a Sunday morning. Security cameras and traffic management solutions not only make citizens safer and save them time, but they allow police and emergency forces to be much more efficient and responsive to potential incidents.

All of these exciting and innovative solutions will truly deliver real value to the city and its inhabitants. I think that the next big source of innovation will be 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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Three Key Takeaways on Digital Dialogue at Gartner ITXpo

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?

 Special thanks to the @Gartner_Inc team, and our own @CiscoEvents team for the great event in Orlando!

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