Submitted by Larry Bellehumeur on 

In case some of you don’t understand the joke in the headline, it refers to how Canadians have a horrible habit of adding “eh?” to the end of many sentences, turning statements into questions.  Funny thing is that I don’t even realize that I am doing it most times, as do most Canadians!

As part of its plans to expand its presence in the IoT field, Cisco has announced plans to open 4 innovation centers around the world with my hometown, Toronto, being one of them. According to the National Post, the new 15,000-square-foot, $100-million innovation centre will be located in Toronto's booming south core financial district (see what it will look like in the photo to your left). The other places that are going to have locations are Rio (which may find more visitors in February than Toronto), Songdo (South Korea) and an unnamed city in Germany.

The idea of the centres is to promote IoT across a number of different customer bases, ranging from SMB to Enterprise, as well as to help startups bring their solutions to market.

I think this is a wise investment for a few reasons:

Lack of M2M-focused “incubators

There are a lot of Wireless Technology hubs all over the world, so I don’t think there is a shortage of those.  However, not many of them have the required hardware (and equally important, the expertise) to help many entrepreneurs get IoT-related businesses off the ground.   I think this one will definitely help bring many of the yet-to-be-invented, potential industry-changing IoT solutions to market.

It will help Cisco’s goal to be the “controller of the IoT universe

Most major players in the IT world grew their business because they were able to totally dominate (or in some cases, create) a very important niche in the world of technology.  You can look at Microsoft (PC software), Dell (PC hardware) and even Cisco (Internet routing equipment) as examples.  While they eventually diversified, all of them became Wall Street darlings by dominating fast-growing “trends” in the world of IT.  To date, there hasn’t been one clear cut winner in the world of IoT. Sure, a few companies have made splashes (Google acquiring Nest, Enterprise software companies signing partnerships, etc), but there has yet to be a “Microsoft” level of domination. 

Cisco could be onto something here….by providing tools and access to key customers for many entrepreneurs, they could be in a good spot to establish a dominance in this space.

People like cool places to visit

Ok, this one might sound weird, but there is something cool about innovation centres, even for the non-nerds out there.  Providing a one-stop experience for people to get a better understanding of what IoT is, what benefits it brings to our world and how easy it can be to deploy will help to knock down some of the barriers that may be preventing mass-adoption of our industry.

Bottom Line

I like to give credit where credit is due, so hats off to our friends at Cisco for taking the initiative to launch their IoT innovation centres.  I think it will be a great long-term investment, and Toronto is a great location because it is filled with a lot of key industries including Finance, Insurance, Automotive and many other industries plus some of the best Technology Universities in the world are just a 2-hour drive away.

Keep up the good work, Cisco!

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