If you’re like me, this last year has left me with an odd sense of time – where the 2020 lockdown seems both like yesterday and a decade ago. We all know how challenging it has been to balance work, life, families, and more.

I’ve been fortunate to be in an industry that has made a real impact across all those vectors. We’re seeing IoT deliver increased business resiliency, better jobs, improved working conditions, increased efficiency, and a higher quality of work/life balance. And we’re challenging ourselves to make improvements across our own business – like reducing our own environmental footprint with a circular design approach.

Cisco IoT is at the heart of many critical industries – and that’s reflected in our double-digit growth in key areas, with a 16% growth in discrete manufacturing, 12% growth in utilities, and 10% growth in public sector industries. And this growth in IoT isn’t just Cisco. We heard at the Cisco Magnetic IoT Start-Up Summit that there is a significant rise in IoT investments – with 3x more capital being invested in industrial IoT in 2020.

“Over 2020 and into 2021, we’re seeing critical industries, like manufacturing and utilities, dramatically increase their digital investments. What may have started as an urgent response to a new Covid-19 reality is transforming into a business accelerator,” said Kevin Prouty, group vice president of IDC’s Manufacturing and Energy Insights. “This double-digit growth that Cisco IoT is seeing aligns with the increasing importance of a secure and resilient digital industrial infrastructure, particularly for these critical industries.”

How did we achieve this growth? With the collaboration of great customers, amazing partners, and Cisco IoT teams, we’re transforming critical industries and improving lives by bringing IT to the physical world to increase business resiliency and employee safety.

Let’s look at some of the best from this last year.

Critical industries are thriving with IoT-powered innovation

The IoT opportunity is everywhere and expanding rapidly. Businesses are investing in IoT across industries – taking their existing networks and extending to the industrial settings. They are building secure, resilient autonomous industrial operations to thrive in the post-Covid recovery.

Here are just a few industries where we are making a huge impact:

  • Manufacturing. Recent research indicates that Covid-19 has sped the adoption of digital technologies by several years. And we’ve seen that reflected in our manufacturing customers across industrial goods, consumer products, food and beverage, and pharmaceuticals. Manufacturers are upgrading their plant environment and driving cybersecurity deeper into the network to protect from malware and other exploits.
  • Utilities: Utilities are turning to IoT to accelerate their modernization efforts, increase efficiency and reliability, and enable use of renewable energy sources. As they connect and automate their substations, we’re seeing more and more utilities focus their attention on bringing higher levels of security to this critical infrastructure.
  • Public sector: We are seeing huge growth in connected intersections, corridors and communities – like the Virginia Department of Transportation making driving safer for residents and first responders leveraging AT&T FirstNet LTE connectivity for emergency traffic prioritization. We’re also seeing critical public infrastructures, like the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority, working with Cisco IoT to modernize technology and secure operations.
  • Transportation: Across rail and mass transit, roadways, and ports, customers are using our IoT solutions to improve the customer experience, drive efficiencies, create safer working environments, and move to automation. One great example is Malta Freeport Terminals, a global shipping hub that to turned to Cisco for our Ultra-Reliable Wireless Backhaul to enable their assets to move freely anywhere in the port.

Accelerating innovation with Industry Blueprints and Design-In Program

We’re helping our customers and partners speed the time to success with our Cisco Validated Designs (CVDs). Think of CVDs as blueprints for industry-specific solutions like connected communities, industrial automation, distribution automation, and more. For every CVD, our engineers create detailed design and implementation guides with pre-tested and validated reference architectures across Cisco and our partners’ products. Before you start, be sure to check our 50+ design and implementation guides to lower your risk and accelerate your implementation.

Over this last year, we’ve also had dozens of partners – Industrial Control System (ICS) vendors, Machine Builders, Building Automation System vendors, Smart Instrumentation vendors, and Rail Integrators – join the 40+ companies already in our Design-In Program. With our open ecosystem approach, documented best practices, and implementation roadmaps, these Design-In partners are using Cisco networking products, embedded boards, and edge software to digitize their products and services quickly, without compromising on security.

The foundation? A secure and reliable industrial network

We know that IoT solutions have many layers. Customers need to feed their analytics and applications data that is latent in machines, controllers, and sensors down at the floor level. A secure industrial network is a critical element to make this happen.

  • For our Cisco IT networking customers, our industrial networking products will look very familiar. Our switching and routing products run the same IOS-XE software and our Wi-Fi access points run the same OS.
  • Plus, all of the training and skills from the traditional IT enterprise portfolio is directly replicable to the industrial networking portfolio.

This year we’ve also introduced new technologies beyond our core networking product lines. Our new sensor networking solution –  Industrial Asset Vision (IAV) – allows us to connect battery-powered sensors over short and long distances, giving you additional data for those apps and analytics. And we connect all these products with an automation capability. So, if you’ve implemented Cisco DNA Center and you are providing assurance and automation to your carpeted spaces, you can extend the same capabilities into new operational domains with our IoT products.

Deep visibility into the network for industrial-grade security

This year also has brought IT and OT together to build a converged security strategy. Cisco Cyber Vision – cybersecurity designed for the Industrial IoT – is helping accelerate that trend.

Cyber Vision is delivering deep visibility into plant floors, substations, and more. It’s also enabling IT and OT to share security data with other platforms, like Cisco DNA Center, so that you can create and apply a single security policy – just like you’d do if you were using Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) in the carpeted space.

Congrats to Cyber Vision for winning this year’s Frost & Sullivan’s IoT/OT Cybersecurity Best Practices Award! Curious? Take a look.

The IIoT edge is open for business

The “edge” is a topic that comes up in many different settings. At Cisco IoT, our focus is on integrating the edge capability right into our networking products.

  • With Cisco Edge Intelligence, you can extract the data from a controller, a machine, roadway intersections, and more – and create logic right at the edge of the network.
  • Take whatever data you want and integrate it from that IoT edge to cloud platforms, like Azure IoT or AWS, or to your on-prem environment.
  • The great thing is that Cisco is cloud neutral, offering multi-cloud integration capabilities – so customers, partners, and developers can bring the data wherever they want to analyze data and serve up new capabilities.

Come learn more at Cisco LIVE 2021

Join us at Cisco Live 2021 Turn It Up from March 30 – April 1 for inspiration, education, and some fun. It’s your chance to learn more about the latest IoT innovations and how you can accelerate your digital transformation – securely and reliably – with Cisco IoT.

Choose from:

  • 4 Solution Overview sessions: Extended Enterprise, Wireless, Security, and Visibility Using Sensors
  • 13 IoT Breakouts, like accelerating digitization, leveraging DevNet at the IoT edge, asset visibility, the latest use cases for utilities/roadways/transportation, how to bring Zero Trust security to industrial networking, and our new IoT Operations Dashboard
  • 10 Product Demos to see it all in action
  • Plus, some great performances and inspirational speakers, like Bill Nye and Serena Williams

Check out all the IoT sessions here. And don’t forget to register while there’s still time.

See you all at Cisco Live!


Vikas Butaney

Senior Vice President and General Manager, Cisco SD-WAN, Multicloud, and Industrial IoT