Mobility continues to change how people interact with data—and what data types they want to interact with. In addition, better availability and accessibility of data, now in real time, increases an individual’s ability to make informed choices.

This digital transformation is putting pressure on companies across all industries. The ability to adapt is critical. At Cisco, we have a long history of adapting. Some of the tools we rely on are:

  • Building necessary technology
  • Buying start-ups
  • Partnering with other companies to create new products
  • Investing in emerging ventures
  • Co-developing new capabilities with our Innovation Center

This strategy is built into our corporate structure and includes R&D in excess of $6 billion and a $3.2 billion investment portfolio.

So what’s your company’s strategy to succeed as digital transformation continues to upend traditional business models?

Companies that are early to digital transformation follow a pattern of using technology to abstract complication. By making complex problems simpler, companies can improve and differentiate customer experience.

Another pattern these companies follow is optimization. To decrease waste in time and resources, companies with a closed-loop business model follow phases of measuring data using IoT sensors, analyzing the data, and optimizing to improve efficiency.

These two patterns enable companies to move people to higher value work, augmenting human skills to drive value. By using tools such as Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality, people can be guided step-by-step to complete diverse tasks.

As a company, it’s better to be a first mover. While there’s a potential for great risk, it’s worth the cost to experiment and, possibly, win significant market share. Those who follow typically become “fast followers” of maturing technologies. This leads to even great expense—and results in playing defense. Rarely a good position to be in.

But still many companies take this wait-and-see approach. A Canadian IDC survey found that while 96 percent of Canadian business owners know digital disruption is happening, only 17 percent have a digital plan to manage the changing technology landscape.

For incumbent companies, changing office culture is a good place to begin. Employees may fear automation out of a belief that they’ll be replaced by machines. However, this situation provides an opportunity to use automation technologies to assess how to move people to higher value work. This is where top-down leadership is key as they can set the example that transformation is not only essential, but can provide a new opportunity for employees.

In addition, by shifting to software-defined infrastructure, companies can reduce budget to run old technology from 80 to 90 percent to 50 to 60 percent. Focusing on system complexity, corporations can optimize IT and make IT staff free to do new things and adapt to be competitive in new technological environments.

Without a doubt, digital transformation isn’t going to stop. On the plus side, it provides many benefits. But only if your company takes action. Follow and fail—or move now to increase your chances of thriving in the digital era. The choice is yours.





Wayne Cuervo

Director of Innovation

Cisco Canada