In our digital and connected world, the opportunities are simply too large and fast-moving for any one company to seize on its own. That’s why we created Cisco Hyperinnovation Living Labs (CHILL). CHILL gathers together an impressive cross-section of large industry players to tackle large industry issues. We’ve taken on big challenges in retail, supply chain, and healthcare—with four out of five concepts developed in our most recent Living Lab receiving on-the-spot funding.

I love the dynamics of getting giants of industry together to innovate shoulder to shoulder along with startups, hackers, end-users, and entrepreneurs. In just 48 hours we take three to five ideas from concept to viable working prototype. The result might be an internal initiative, spinout or joint venture—and sometimes we even build startups from scratch.

As we approach our next lab on the Future of Work, one area I believe is ripe for innovation is the use of analytics. Companies today are using analytics to target their marketing efforts, plan equipment maintenance, and optimize routing of ships, planes, and trucks.

What else can the power of analytics unleash? How might it shape the future of work?

Analytics can democratize knowledge and drive new insights—so that every worker becomes a knowledge worker. It can help keep workers safe, and make workplaces more inclusive. Here are some ways this is already happening:

  • Making workers smarter: Our own Cisco Services just announced a suite of predictive services that uses analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to fill the growing IT talent gap and automate many of the processes we use to keep networks up and running in top condition. It gives every service engineer the knowledge and skill of the best engineer—because 20 years of historical network performance data is built right in, helping them predict and prevent problems before they happen.
  • Making workers safer: Imagine a worker checking out a problem deep in a mine, or in a chemical plant. What if there’s a toxic gas leak, or the worker is injured by heavy equipment? Wearable technology plus analytics can reduce those risks. Guardhat, for example, uses a smart hardhat to monitor temperature, air quality, and the presence of gases or chemicals in mines, refineries, chemical plants, or other hazardous sites. It can provide live remote guidance through a dark mineshaft, and send an alert if a worker is injured or strays into an unsafe location. So people whose jobs take them into dangerous situations have a better chance of coming out alive and well.
  • Making the workplace more diverse and inclusive: Innovation thrives when everyone has a seat at the table. Yet despite decades of effort, most companies still don’t reflect the rich mixture of cultures, races, genders, ages, and abilities of the world we live in. That’s a tremendous waste of talent. Several startups are trying to change that with AI, machine learning, and Talent Sonar scans resumes and separates out information that could feed unconscious bias—such as name, educational background, and hobbies. And since bias doesn’t stop with the hiring process, Awari analyzes performance reviews to help companies proactively identify age, race and gender bias in employee advancement. The aim is a workplace that benefits from a full spectrum of perspectives and experiences.

If this is what the current analytics landscape looks like, what might tomorrow bring? How do you want to influence the Future of Work? What is your company’s strategy for harnessing and shaping the disruptive power of analytics, AI, robotics, virtual reality, and other transformative technologies? What unique perspectives could you add to the CHILL Future of Work lab?

Let’s talk. If your company is ready to join us, send an email to AreYouIn@cisco.com.

The future of work begins now. Are you in?



Kate O'Keeffe

Senior Director

Customer and Partner Innovation