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As Technology Changes ‘Everything,’ Don’t Forget About People

In a constantly changing world, getting the right talent focused on the most pressing challenges is essential — not just for companies, but for service providers, cities, and countries.

Today, the key driver of that rapid change is technology, particularly the explosion in connectivity known as the Internet of Everything (IoE). Cisco predicts that IoE will have connected 50 billion “things” by 2020, compared to 10 billion today. But for all the talk of things, IoE is not just about embedding sensors in shoes, jet engines, refrigerators, and shopping carts. The true opportunity arises when people, process, data, and things are connected in startling new ways.

In such an environment, collaboration is critical. Indeed, IoE-related innovations have the potential to improve and transform our world in profound ways. But no one company can solve these challenges. They will require partnerships and the open sharing of ideas and talent.

Technology companies, in particular, will need to change the ways in which they utilize their talent. For many decades, there was one way to access talent — by hiring it. Today, workforces are flexible and may be spread across time zones and continents. Knowledge workers still contribute as employees on company payrolls, of course. But increasingly, they are just as likely to collaborate on a specific project as partners or as subject-matter experts sharing knowledge within cross-functional or cross-industry groups.

That is why I feel so strongly about a recent out-of-court settlement in Silicon Valley regarding the free flow of talent from one organization to another. Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe agreed to pay more than $300 million to 64,000 engineers who claimed that the companies’ hiring policies were hindering their career paths and access to higher salaries.

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Mining Copper Ore — and Digital Insights — in the Internet of Everything Economy

The Internet of Everything (IoE) is a juggernaut of change, transforming organizations in profound ways. It sows disruption, and it grants enormous opportunities. But this sweeping wave of change is not reserved for what we normally think of as “technology companies.” In the IoE economy, even seemingly “analog” endeavors must be bestowed with network connectivity, no matter how venerable a company’s roots or old its traditions.

In a world where Everyone Is a Tech Company, there are some great examples of older companies that are heeding this new reality. Retail, manufacturing, transportation, and education are just a few of the places where people, process, data, and things are being connected in startling new ways. Companies that are ahead of the IoE transformation curve will ensure their competiveness in marketplaces that are ever more vulnerable to disruption.

Dundee Precious Metals provides a great example of a company that is embracing change. A far-flung global organization, the company, for example, runs Europe’s largest mine in Chelopech, Bulgaria, from which it ships gold-rich copper ore to a smelter in Namibia. Yet through IoE-related technologies, executives at the company’s headquarters in Toronto, Canada, have gained unprecedented visibility into all aspects of their operations.

The end result? A boon in safety, efficiency, and productivity.

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From the Mine Shaft to the Store Shelf — an IoE Revolution in Manufacturing

Since Henry Ford, the alchemy of turning raw materials into mass-produced products has been complicated and challenging. At best, it has been a delicate and precarious balancing act; at worst, something akin to herding cats.

The trick has always been to align ever-shifting patterns of customer demand with far-flung ecosystems of miners, designers, suppliers, engineers, factory workers, truck drivers, sellers, and so forth. Yet the process of orchestrating such intricate value chains has often been based on art (hunches) more than science (data).

Today, however, the Internet of Everything (IoE) — the ongoing explosion in networked connectivity among people, process, data, and things — is transforming manufacturing in startling ways, just as it is changing so many other industries.

IoE delivers seamless, intelligent connections to every corner of the manufacturing value chain, optimizing the flow of products, information, and payments in real time.

The Cisco IoE Value Index study found that in 2013, manufacturing had the largest potential share of IoE Value at Stake, at $224 billion. Yet, it was poised to realize only 46 percent of that potential bottom-line value.  The key to closing that gap lies in much-improved machine-to-machine and machine-to-people connections, resulting in smart factories, smart grids, and connected supply chains, among many other IoE-related innovations.

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People + Process + Data + Things = JOBS

“If you don’t get off that computer game, you’ll never amount to anything!”

It’s a familiar lament in modern families. Yet as parents fret about the time their children spend gaming, they may be missing the bigger picture — by failing to perceive the future of job creation in the Internet of Everything (IoE) economy.

Gaming (within reason!) bestows children with some valuable skills that will be relevant to a rapidly evolving job market. And for a few kids, the gaming becomes the job. Gaming “super bowls” draw top players and increasingly large audiences that prefer the interactive nature of gaming to the performer / spectator model of “real” sports.

The point is not for parents to bank on their children becoming wealthy at the “gaming super bowl.” Those odds are probably not much better than making it to the NFL’s Super Bowl!

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Happy Labor Day

Like many Americans, I am enjoying the 3-day holiday weekend.  I’m taking advantage of Labor Day promotional sales, watching college football games, and relaxing with family and good food on the BBQ.   

On this Labor Day, jobs are critically important to government leaders at all levels:

  • National government with President Obama’s Jobs Council Listening and Action sessions in Portland and Dallas in advance speech coming later this week 
  • State goverment such as in California where the jobless rate is currently at 12% 
  • City and local governments, mayors unveil jobs plan

Reflecting on the history of Labor Day, I wonder what our working world will be like in the future compared to the past.  LIFE has captured images “In Praise of American the Worker“  that captures the spirit of hardwork. 

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