What a great year to be at Cisco Live! There was so much going on—from visionary keynotes to the World of Solutions exhibits, to the many sessions that let attendees go deep into the areas that interested them. What I heard and saw challenged my thinking in some areas, and confirmed what I’ve been learning in my work with Cisco’s Hyper-Innovation Learning Labs (CHILL). It’s an exciting time for innovation. And Cisco Live was an especially good time to CHILL when it was 106o outside!

Here’s my photo diary of the week, with my countdown of top five moments:

5. Innovation is born through thoughtful, exploratory questions.

There are many ways to innovate, but they all start by asking questions. I was glad to see this hands-on example of physical-world crowdsourcing to truly understand what makes a good patient experience. When we design a CHILL Living Lab, we always start with questions: What area is ripe for disruption? Where does Cisco have a unique opportunity to drive an industry shift? What other companies have the innovation and strategy alignment to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with us to create that change? And what needs are not being met by current solutions?

4. Companies don’t care about technology, but what technology can do to create “zero distance to customer.”

In his Day 2 keynote, Rowan Trollope declared that in today’s new data economy, winners are the people with the most data, who can derive the best insights from that data, and connect it to effective action. This capability creates a level of intimacy with customers that meets their needs at a deep and satisfying level. One example is the wearable mobile personal emergency response system (mPERS) developed by Cisco Jasper’s partnership with Jupl and Samsung. This is a great system for elderly or disabled people to keep in touch with caregivers, friends, and family—and to summon help if needed.

3. It was fun to have my 15 minutes of fame on Cisco TV.

I had a great time on Cisco TV Tuesday morning talking with host Robb Boyd about what makes CHILL so special. He asked me why we bring end users into the very beginning of the innovation process. The fact is we have to be willing to kill our darlings if we want to get to the best solution. An idea can live or die on the word of an end user. In our healthcare CHILL lab last September, one group was having an intense discussion about whether to include a particular feature in the solution prototype—they felt it would make patients more likely to go to the hospital ER, which the hospital might like, but the insurance company would not. So they posed the question to a cancer patient right there and then, who said, “No, you don’t understand. I would sooner die than go back to the ER.” Argument over.

2. Innovation is in our DNA—the Network. Intuitive.

At first I thought it might be tough to compete with all the buzz about the biggest Cisco launch in a decade. There was certainly a lot of excitement as Chuck Robbins introduced Cisco’s new intuitive digital network architecture—the DNA Center, the blazingly fast new Catalyst 9000, and incredible new capabilities like being able to detect and stop malware hidden in encrypted traffic. But it turns out that this reimagined network doesn’t compete with the message of CHILL it reinforces it. In fact, it’s just what we need to accelerate the innovations that come out of a CHILL lab—innovation not limited by capacity or complexity, a network designed to speed solution implementation at scale.

And, my #1 snapshot from Cisco Live U.S. (drumroll, please!):

1. “CHILL! I’m In.”

What a pleasure it was to introduce the panel of CHILL alumni during my session Wednesday afternoon, “Let’s CHILL: Industry-Wide Innovation on Hyper-Drive.” Richard Ebach, CIO of DB Schenker, talked about rapid prototyping and the progress his company has made since the most recent CHILL lab, developing blockchain technology to secure the supply chain. Brad Haczynski Managing Director at Intel discussed new opportunities in the deep partnership between Cisco and Intel—and showed his superhero power as an impressionist! Who knew he could double as John Chambers?  And I was especially excited to introduced Mike Jordan, acting CEO of MyWays, who talked about his experience as a serial entrepreneur—moving from a startup in the connected car space to improving the healthcare experience of cancer patients. I loved his insights on what it takes to build a startup from scratch.
We live in a world of exponential change, touching every area of our lives. The next CHILL lab in November will explore how technology will change the Future of Work. To prepare for the Living Lab, we are selecting customers to go on an invitation-only Learning Journey in the San Francisco Bay area on July 26 to see how the workplace is already changing in some of the most innovative companies. Would you like to be invited? Simply tweet #chillimin to @kateokeeffe or comment below and we’ll get back to you. Are you in?




Kate O'Keeffe

Senior Director

Customer and Partner Innovation