#SpeakerSpotlight: Dr. Rick Huijbregts, Vice President, Digital Transformation and Innovation, Cisco Canada

Rick Huijbregt’s business card says “Vice President”, but he calls himself a design-thinker. Rick will take part in the panel discussions, “IoT Adoption – Smart Communities” and “New Challenges for a Digital Organization – Securing IoT” at the Wavefront 2017 IoT Summit. Find out why he thinks people trump technology and the surprising innovation that’s on his wish list.

What inspired you to pursue a career as a champion of business productivity and innovation?

My background is in real estate and architecture. I always aspired to create new and innovative things—namely, inspiring spaces for future generations. I wasn’t much of an architect, but the creative spirit and desire to re-imagine our future remained. I’ve been trained to be a “design-thinker”: solving complex problems. I get to do this now for Cisco. In today’s Fourth Industrial Revolution, we get to once again (re)invent industries, business, and experiences. We continue to change the way we live, learn, work and play—and Digital Transformation is today’s catalyst.

What would you say is the leading trend in IoT for 2017?

Part of the trend is to monetize and capitalize on the IoT that we started together a few years ago. Millions and billions of smart objects are getting connected, and the value we can extract from it is the opportunity in front of us. We’ll see continued development in “platforms”, “security” and “analytics” (into AI) play a huge role to shape the IoT.

What do you think one of the greatest misconceptions is about IoT/next generation technologies?

That it takes away jobs (new jobs, companies, and industries will be created); that it is a massive cyber security risk (good security hygiene—as opposed to duct-tapping security solutions together—is critical for the digital transformation).

What are the key challenges around adopting IoT technologies/ transitioning to a digital organization?

It’s people. It’s always been people. Technology isn’t so much the issue. There is plenty of great technology out there. It’s the adoption, acceptance and willingness to transform (disrupt). Change is hard. We need to work together to see the opportunities in front of us, visualize the impact it will have on everything we do and guide all the stakeholders along the journey.

What is an immediate benefit of adopting IoT technologies/transitioning to a digital organization?

I believe we surpassed the hype phase of IoT. It is real. It is here. Benefits come in lots of shapes and forms: enabling the business (productivity, efficiency, streamlining operations), differentiation (customer experience, new consumption models, ease-of-use) and the ability to redefine an outcome (new business models). The latter is harder, and maybe for down the digital transformation road for some. Enabling the business with tangible ROI is feasible today with the IoT.

Are Canadians ready for the Digital Revolution?

Somehow, Canadians are. We are the most connected nation with the highest penetration and use of social media and Internet use. That said, our conservative nature (which has served us well in the past) is limiting us to take some bold risks and be more forceful in the adoption and roll-out of the IoT. IDC last year showed that 96% of Canadian businesses realizes that “digital” will impact their business over the course of next 5 years. However, only 17% seem to have a digital strategy. The data shows that Canada is lagging a little, but we have the opportunity to leapfrog.

What’s on your reading list for 2017?

I am finishing “My Vision” by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum; “Building the Internet of Things” by Maciej Kranz and “Digital Vortex” by Loucks/Macaulay/Noronha/Wade.

Which smart technology has changed your life or work the most?

My car with rather advanced “driver assist” features. Cisco Spark to manage my teams and my projects—as I deal with distributed teams. And my DX80 that gives me HD video conferencing at the comfort of my home office.

If you could create a smart technology to make your job easier, what would it be?

One big “off” button. It’s important that we find BALANCE in times of disruption. Today’s speed of change is unprecedented. It’s equally exciting as it is challenging. Time to shut down will be increasingly important. Or a time machine…traffic congestion and cross-country travel doesn’t seem to go away or become any less.

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