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Corporate Strategic Innovation Group

Leading in the new digital world means letting go—letting go of end-to-end proprietary solutions, serial development methodologies, and working in silos. That’s why we bring our partners and customers closer for joint discovery and co-innovation. We’re reshaping and redefining our digital world together.

Maciej Kranz, Vice President and General Manager, Corporate Strategic Innovation Group

In the digital world, innovators are redefining the landscape of business. Not by incrementally improving products already in the market, but by envisioning entirely new ideas. That's the commitment of Cisco's Corporate Strategic Innovation Group.

At the heart of our strategy is identifying key disruptions and transforming them into sustainable opportunities. We know that no single company can do it alone. That's why our innovation strategy is anchored in the pillars of build, buy, partner, invest, and co-develop. It's about bringing the best minds to the table.

Our global Innovation Centers are also foundational to our approach. It's where we foster strategic relationships, co-innovate with key customers, partners, and startups.

New thinking. New ways of doing things. All focused on innovation. And all resulting in solutions that produce revenue—while solving our customers' most pressing business challenges.

Our business

Pioneering the future. Helping customers succeed. Increasing shareholder value. While serving as Cisco's beacon for innovation, these pillars anchor Cisco's overall strategy.

  • Build: Working within Cisco, with the developer community, or with customers
  • Buy: Acquiring or even divestiture, depending on goals
  • Partner: Strategically partnering to further build out the business
  • Invest: Exploring and seeding investment in specific areas where technology is in its infancy or no dominant technology exists
  • Co-develop: Developing new solutions with multi-party teams that include customers, channel partners, startups, independent software vendors, and academics

Thinking outside In

Cisco's Corporate Strategic Innovation Group is part of the Corporate Strategy Office. We're a team of recognized business leaders, distinguished technologists, market researchers, and innovation experts. Our diverse brainpower, spread across no less than 12 countries, is our catalyst for what we do best: accelerate breakthrough business and technology disruptions at Cisco and across the industry.

How do we do it? We ignore siloes. We bypass traditional innovation models. And we're quick on our feet. Our model is far more agile than traditional models, where you end up with the same team developing in different stages and experience only incremental improvement.

If you're after exponential innovation, as we are, you have to be willing to disrupt—fast. You also require a diverse team that can change and shift, depending on the project and outcome desired. This results in real change.

We also understand that innovation is complex. It's not just developing an idea, a product, or getting customer input. It's all of those things—about creating a culture of innovators. We believe innovation can come from anywhere—and everywhere.

Nurturing groundbreaking technology

Our Innovation Center teams are always on the lookout for major technology disruptions. And if what we discover aligns with our priorities, we move quickly to turn them into sustainable opportunities.

Along the way, we work closely with our key customers. Our goal is to help solve their biggest business challenges so they can thrive in the digital era. It's exciting, inspiring, and, yes, even at times perplexing. But we like it that way. Solving puzzles and creating solutions is what we do best.

Having home bases to work from—specifically, our Innovation Centers—makes for high-energy collaboration. We think of ourselves as powerful business and technology engines—engines that fire up disruptive thinking and lead to real-world solutions. In fact, our centers are the embodiment of our co-develop innovation pillar.

But we don't go it alone. We partner across a broad range of innovators to create new business opportunities. Partners such as:

  • Startups—risk takers who can move quickly
  • Innovation accelerators—startup sleuths who bring fresh ideas
  • Universities and colleges—hotbeds for joint projects, research, and sourcing interns
  • Developers and independent software vendors—code providers to stitch it all together
  • Channel partners—fast scalers from first customer to the next 100

The reason for our centers' existence is, and always will be, our customers. Customer success is our success. That's why they're always top of mind. And always the center of conversation. For example, we want to know what keeps them up at night. We want to know their vision for the future. And, in the end, we always want to know how Cisco can help.

Together, with our customers and partners, we're seeing around corners, and preparing for the future.

At each of our nine Innovation Centers, we focus on local technology and industry strengths—with the goal of global scaling. We co-innovate with our customers and partners, developing new technology and business models. Because of our diverse ecosystem, we've created an incredible hub of activity—all focused on building a stronger tomorrow.

Go Around the World with Cisco Innovation Centers

For more information about co-developing solutions at one of our Innovation Centers, email us.

Technology investigations and proofs of concepts

Our team is always in various stages of investigation on a number of disruptive solutions and new business models. We wouldn't have it any other way. How could we? Technology is changing the world—seemingly minute by minute. Think, for instance, about blockchain, connected cars, drones, fog computing, fog security, virtual reality, and more.

Here's one way technology is making our world safer and simpler, and offers a true citizen experience: It's a citywide fog computing proof of concept for the beautiful city of Barcelona. An incredible achievement, and step forward for the future of smart cities, this solution benefits local citizens, improves governmental effectiveness, and is a beacon for tourism.

Providing a pathway for cities around the world, Barcelona represents the very best of co-innovation among the city, strategic partners, startups, and academia. We developed a fog platform that supports:

  • Multi-tenancy
  • Lifecycle management at multiple levels
  • Fog nodes going beyond our current portfolio
  • Security in the fog
  • Real-time analytics in a fully distributed way

So as Barcelona continues to embrace its historic past, it's also creating an amazing city of the future. For example, streetlights that do much more than provide light. They're so smart, they also count people, measure pollution, and monitor open parking spots. The result? Faster decision making, reduced operational costs, and faster go-to-market.

And the best part? We developed a platform that meets the digitization needs of the city, but is also generic and scalable. Therefore, it can be used by other cities and verticals.

View the story of our fog computing proof of concept here.

Inspiring employees to get involved

At Cisco, we believe innovation can come from anywhere—and everyone. Our human capital, talent from around the world, is essential to our innovation strategy. Our My Innovation drive is tied closely to our corporatewide People Deal program, which empowers employees to build innovation into their daily culture. It's also where we combine our formal innovation programs with our grassroots innovation efforts.

Formalized at our internal Innovation Hub site, our goal is to inspire employees across functions with this simple truth: They have the power to think up, create, and bring disruptive ideas to life at Cisco. This includes employees we call "founders," who launch ideas and the "angels" who provide them with the support and encouragement they need to bring their ideas to life.

We also take definitive action in support of our founders and angels. We do this by shaking things up across all Cisco functions, grade levels, and geographies with our Innovate Everywhere Challenge. The internal challenge encourages each employee to think and act like an entrepreneur in a startup.

The challenge recognizes the fact that, today, it's either disrupt or be disrupted. Pioneer or perish. Transform or terminate. Innovate or disintegrate. We get it—and so do our employees. And, boy, is it fun.

We designed our Innovate Everywhere Challenge disruption by refining insights from industry best practices, partner experiences, startup advisors, and proven startup tools such as Adventure Kits, which were notably inspired by Adobe Kickbox, an open source innovation toolkit with step-by-step guides that take an entrepreneur through the innovation journey.

The challenge accomplishes this by empowering and freeing all employees to act on their own dreams for market disruption—in a collegial, fun, game-like atmosphere. Every year, we select top innovators among our employees who receive a financial investment from Cisco, time off to work on their ideas, and the possibility of turning their ideas into a Cisco solution.
Read our Innovate Everywhere Challenge white paper.

Demystifying tomorrow with Technology Radar

Is the future predictable? We think so. Our Technology Radar relies on trend mapping and technology foresight to see tomorrow—today. The radar is a companywide, collaborative program. It helps us identify novel technologies and emerging trends early.

The radar is an intuitive and always-on intelligence platform for scouting, tracking, enriching, and evaluating emerging technologies, trends, startups, and internal innovations. It features a reach and dynamic radar visualization, including:

  • Visual ways to navigate through technologies, trends, projects, and companies
  • Enhanced search capabilities to filter data quickly and focus on relevant technologies, trends, or startups
  • Multidimensional and collaborative ratings of technologies, trends, and companies
  • Various export formats (including JPG, PNG, and PDF)

The result is a deep understanding of technology-driven opportunities—and potential threats. It empowers both our Innovation Centers and our internal business units to dive into insights and make strategic decisions for their technology strategies and innovation roadmaps.

The Technology Radar plays a strong strategic role in our innovation journey—much like our own innovation GPS.