At the Cisco Toronto Innovation Centre, we’re always looking to the future, including how the Internet of Things (IoT) industry is transforming. We see this firsthand as our centre provides a “home” for our Cisco sales teams to partner with customers, academia, and start-ups. Together, teams rely on our Toronto Centre, and other centres around the world, to co-develop scalable solutions with significant business outcomes that can be taken to a broader global industry.

It’s exciting to see IoT’s increased interconnection of devices as a means to the end of solving business problems, with specific solutions for each vertical. Companies that offer IoT can either be vendors with horizontal capabilities, such as Cisco with technology offerings like networking infrastructure and analytics, or vendors with market-specific solutions, such as remote asset management.

While there will likely be big disruptions in the consumer IoT market in the long run, IoT is mainly implemented on the business side today.

With the first wave of IoT, the increased data generated to be converted into solutions drove a shift in cloud architecture design. Instead of the old centralized cloud model, Cisco pivoted to use distributed clouds to process data close to the source.

Developments in networking technology, such as the adoption of 5G for greater bandwidth, and the incorporation of security into our technology and behaviour are needed to continue to grow the IoT solutions Cisco supports. With IoT technology, companies must work with the government to develop regulations and best practices.

What Does the IoT Market Look Like?

Comparing Canada to global markets’ adoption of IoT, leadership in Asia implemented IoT technologies on a greater scale by building smart cities from scratch, without having to deal with legacy infrastructures. Within North America, effective IoT leadership tends to come from a focus on productivity, specifically getting the most out of assets.

In terms of adoption, industrial verticals such as mining, gas, manufacturing, and transportation make up the majority of mature use cases and implementations for Cisco’s 14,000 IoT customers. Cisco has increasingly been working in the agricultural space with water and irrigation systems and management systems and, despite privacy challenges, in the healthcare space. We expect growth in the retail space as well as in smart cities, which are earlier in the adoption curve.

Without a doubt, every industry is becoming a technology industry. This is something established industries and companies need to pay attention as unlikely new competitors surround them.

IoT prompts corporations to think about what business they’re in and how to refigure their business around digital technology. A common pattern with the introduction of IoT was the migration from 20th century models of vertical integration into models of an ecosystem of customers and partners working together, driven by change in the cost and pace of technology.

Small to midsize companies often believe that only big companies with the resources to spend large amounts of money and effort can take advantage of IoT. However, these companies can focus on use cases to deploy IoT to solve business and operational technology problems. These companies benefit by identifying an integrator who knows the business case and market and can also deal with legacy infrastructure.

Emerging Technologies to Watch

We’re seeing an increased focus on two emerging technologies that will grow to support IoT solutions.

The first is blockchain—a distributed database architecture that allows you to prove immutability, the ability to transact value on top of the network with both privacy and the ability to trace all transactions. Potential applications include simplifying financial transactions and increasing supply chain transparency. For Cisco, blockchain is in a proof of concept stage with product deployment later this year.

Also, Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be combined with IoT to drive value in data analytics and the automation of human processes. AI is increasingly decentralized and can be incorporated into other technologies like drones for remote monitoring and inspection capabilities.

As your organization looks to the future, where will you end up? Ready to compete with new players in your industry, or scrambling to catch up. The choice is yours.


Wayne Cuervo

Director of Innovation

Cisco Canada