As I get ready for my presentation on The Factory of the Future, Today: Lessons Learned from Deploying IoT at the Design & Manufacturing Conference, I think the main value I get out of these conferences is networking with peers and staying relevant in a fast-evolving job market. Companies are also having to reinvent themselves and stay relevant in light of Digitization.

I remember when John Chambers predicted that by 2024, 40% of Fortune 500 companies would no longer exist. This was an eye-opener, but seems particularly prophetic given how quickly traditional manufacturing companies are evolving into software-centric organizations.


Source: Creative Commons

These forces of change are even driving traditionally risk-averse corporate IT managers to trial & deploy applications from startups that embrace cloud, smart devices, web applications, analytics, and all those buzz words. This is IoT: the application of internet-technologies to the world of things.

As we evolve our M2M thinking to embrace IoT, applying the principles of design thinking helps ensure we are addressing the right problems.

Innovation = Creativity X Execution

Design Thinking can be traced back to 1969, but the concept really came into its own in the 90’s with the work done at Stanford and IDEO. It is perfect for maximizing the ROI of ambiguous journeys like Digitization because of its emphasis on creativity & problem finding that is suited for dealing with ambiguous outcomes and the need to consider the human element.


Source: Stanford D-School

Rather than blindly assuming that every technology issue is an IoT-shaped problem, Design Thinking can focus on where the IoT can provide a tangible ROI today and how to apply the technology.

I see many design thinking success stories firsthand from my work with customer and partner executives who are monetizing IoT for their businesses. These folks are becoming increasingly valuable to their employers because they combine their knowledge of the problem with a willingness to think outside the box.

I’ll get into more of the details in Minneapolis on the 22nd. I hope to see you there!


RJ Mahadev

Head, Cisco Retail IoT Solutions

IoT Business Unit