One of the challenges we’re seeing in business today is the need to re-learn the problem solving process. This need is increasing demand for creativity as a critical competency of the consultant of the future – driven by how businesses capture value harnessing the connectivity and intelligence enabled by the Internet of Everything (IoE).

As IoE connections increase, organizations have the opportunity to rethink and redefine the way they deliver value to consumers, patients, and citizens. Take for example the work we did with the NBA. One of the keys to establishing brand loyalty is enabling experiences that spark an emotional connection between the consumer and the brand. By using Cisco’s Virtual Mirror, the NBA creates a seamless, personalized, IoE fan experience that begins when participants “wrist in” using an RFID wristband. The bands, which every visitor receives upon arriving at an event, are aligned with a profile provided by the attendees; thus, the mirrors will “know” each potential shopper. In return, the NBA will learn which fans tried the Virtual Mirrors, which products their fans liked most, and which fans purchased as a result of their experience.

Moving forward, our biggest value as consultants needs to be the seemingly paradoxical combination of our skills: analytics know-how and our “secret sauce” – creativity. To take full advantage of IoE requires us to create breakthrough solutions. Breakthrough solutions like the NBA fan experience, creating a more personalized banking experience, or designing the next Uber all would not have been possible without this “secret sauce”.

Let’s take a look at the underlying dynamics between these breakthrough solutions and incremental innovation. While both relate to producing ideas, the way these ideas develop is different. Incremental innovation arises from exploring changes to what exists today, and applying excellent analytical skills to drive incremental improvements. This isn’t enough to drive transformational IoE economic impact.

The creativity to deliver breakthrough innovation stems from the courage to step away from day-to-day realities and replace them with something unrecognizable. Our value will also be in the speed with which we enable these insights, motivate change and tackle obstacles. To do these things we need to deepen our competence in applying skills developed from methods like design thinking. Or honing the 5 skills identified by the National Science Foundation, as outlined in Sarah Miller Caldicott’s blog, which facilitate radical thinking, revolutionary ideas, and driving to successful implementation.

And like most muscles, the creative one develops with practice. A series of “what if” questions can often help our development, lead to the breakthroughs, and help our customers become bolder. Driving IoE forward will still take being able to smartly analyze data, relying on expert judgment, and intuition gained from past experiences. Our ability to be a valued consultant comes from the extent to which we can provide the creative muscle – the “secret sauce” – that will unlock value from those intelligent products.

Share how you’ve applied creativity to drive IoE for your clients.


Rachael McBrearty

Chief Creative and Group Leader

Cisco Consulting Services