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Are you Ready to Lead the Pace in the Digital Era of Generation IoT?

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The Internet of Things is disrupting everything. In two years, it will all be connected - trash bags, oil rigs, hospitals, even whole cities.

“Everything is connecting with everything,” said Maciej Kranz, VP Strategic Innovations, Cisco Systems, who recently spoke at the Back End of Innovation Conference in Orlando, FL. He should know; he’s been involved in IoT for 14 years.

“We connect things mostly in the business-to-business space,” he said.

How is IoT driving changes in traditional industries?

Look at Harley Davidson. A cross-functional team reduced the production of a motorcycle from 18 months to two weeks using a connected technology, which created efficiencies that had previously been unforeseen, even unimagined.

Co-innovation plays a big role in this emerging space, as well. GM and FANUC, an example of a vendor and company working together, co-created a new manufacturing automation. Such eco-systems of vendors are becoming more common. With the advent of IoT and the accelerating rate of innovation, companies are bringing vendors into their problems to co-create best-in-class solutions.

Of course, failures will happen. Perhaps “the number one failure” is that companies are jumping onto the IoT bandwagon without having a specific customer reason to have a connected product.

The “second change we are seeing” is the traditional relationship between a customer and a vendor. “At Cisco most of our customers want to co-create with us.”Similarly, there is a massive shift to a service-oriented business models, even for technology companies.

So the next question is how do you get your workforce ready? “You have to change the culture where reinvention is possible for employees,” he says. A culture of innovation requires the development of deep interpersonal relationships within an enterprise, and an insistence on creativity.

The real point: you must make innovation a core function within a company.

“What we try and do is co-innovate solving problems for customers,” he says.


Innovations at Cisco include construction, buying companies, investing in start-ups, and co-innovating with other large companies. For example, a large oil and gas company approached Cisco, saying, “We want you to work with our three largest vendors and create a new solution for us. We will not ask for your to offer us an exclusive.”

The right question is not how do we become more innovative, but rather how we can make innovation core.

About the Author: Michael Graber is the managing partner of the Southern Growth Studio, an insight, innovation, and strategy firm based in Memphis, TN, and the author of Going Electric. Visit www.southerngrowthstudio.com

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