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8 things we learnt at Disruptive Innovation 2015

November 26, 2015

The second ever Disruptive Innovation Festival has wrapped up and we’re all feeling pretty clever now.

The entirely digital festival, run by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, brought together some the leading thinkers in technology and innovation from around the world. For us at Cisco, as a proud technology partner it’s been fascinating to hear from such a strong line-up of speakers.

Here are some of my favourite thoughts and insights from this year’s festival…

The best way to start open innovation

“Just do it,” says Kors van Wyngaarden of Philips. “Start small, think big, act fast,” says Jeremy Basset of Unilever. For big companies in particular, innovation from the ground up can be a challenge – but taking that first small step can be the most important. Catch up on the open innovation strategies session here.

Innovation is rife with the Internet of Things (IoT)

This is the ‘best example’ of innovation happening right now, according to Cisco’s Tom Kneen. He argued IoT is ‘enabling people to come in and develop solutions on top of a platform’ and as a result new ideas and business models are being brought to fruition. “[For us] it’s about getting the balance right but recognising there’s a community out there, opening up platforms and getting the developers in.” You can get more from Tom in my earlier blog here.

Why should companies embrace open innovation?

With digital disruption setting the pace of change across organisations globally, open innovation can be a way of making your business agile allowing you to respond to the changes around you. “The speed of innovation has massively changed,” said Tom. And why is this something they should embrace? “To get to opportunities faster, to validate their idea, and the problem they think they’re solving to the widest audience as possible.”

Business should learn how to ‘fail fast’

Companies have to be much more agile in their thinking, as well as the ability to collaborate with people. That’s according to the panel on the hugely informative open innovation strategies session. Taking a ‘fail fast’ attitude is what it’s all about. Businesses should ask, what’s their minimum viable product, and then iterate quickly so they can react to customers’ wants and needs. 

The sharing economy is yet to reach its full potential

“I’m looking for business models that work better for more people,” explained April Rinne, an expert on the sharing economy and sharing cities. “Do I think the sharing economy is better than what was there before? Yes I do. Do I think it’s reached its full potential? Absolutely not. The sharing economy terminology is in its adolescence…we’re going to take some time figuring all this out. Ultimately it becomes part of the [wider] economy but at the moment we’re fumbling with language coming up with a hodgepodge of terms, all of which work partially well.”

The number of internet connections is going to get really, really big through IPv6.

It wasn’t just innovation we heard about, there was plenty of tech talk in the keynote session from our very own CTO Alison Vincent. We already know that by 2020 25 billion ‘things’ will be connected to the internet. But how do you go about creating that many connections? IPv6 is going to help enable this growth exponentially, argued Alison. Only “2 to 3 per cent [of devices] are connected right now,” she said, but IPv6 will help enable the huge growth required by massively increasing capacity.

The speed of disruption will leave some people behind

“What’s the role of people in the future?” was one of the questions posed during Alison’s session. “Personally I think the drudgery will go,” she said. “It will enable the human to provide flare and compassion to a solution on top of the technology. [This] drudgery will be taken over by machines.” However, Alison questioned if new jobs could be created for those who are made obsolete by automation. “We need to debate in the terms of what it means for society and individuals,” she argued. 

Future tech skills is more than just coding

Alison also called for a widening in the debate around skilling up the future workforce. “I’m concerned about the push to code,” she said. “It’s a skill, but it’s probably more important for [kids] to construct from something that’s already existing.” She added: “Logical thinking, and softer skills around software engineering will be more beneficial.”

Missed out on the action? Fear not, as you can catch-up on all the sessions on the DIF website for the next 30 days.

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