#SpeakerSpotlight: Eric Simmons, AVP, Automation Innovation, Canadian Tire

Innovation at retail giant Canadian Tire is driven by Eric Simmons, an enterprise tech industry veteran with a passion for the connected vehicle. Eric will share Canadian Tire’s approach to innovation on Day 1 of the Wavefront 2017 IoT Summit.

In this Speaker Spotlight, discover why Eric thinks it’s important for businesses to shake off the shackles of traditional IT models – and the bot he dreams about.

What inspired you to pursue a career as a champion of tech innovation?

Early in my career, I worked for a small consulting company where we did a lot of work with web portals and custom application development of web-based solutions. I found it inspiring and exciting to solve a company’s business challenges through effectively leveraging technologies that many businesses didn’t know were available or that were used in new innovative ways. I continued to focus on innovation / technology. Moving to Rogers to lead their IoT business gave me a passion for IoT that has led me to the forefront of innovation.

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

A key trend is setting up innovation labs in businesses that are not bound by traditional IT models to enable exploration and pilot projects. Many businesses have recognized the need to try technologies and fail quickly or leverage rapid prototyping to prove out business models that have business value. Much of this innovation and exploration is IoT related.

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

There are 2 major misconceptions: IoT is complicated (it can be, but it certainly doesn’t need to be) and it is difficult to show an ROI.

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

One of the biggest is organizational readiness – creating a culture of innovation and understanding how IoT can deliver better results for the business.

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

Three immediate benefits are cost savings, operational efficiencies and better customer experience. Companies that adopt quickly can have first mover advantage and redefine a market.

Are Canadians ready for the Digital Revolution?

Canadians are ready, but many need to be led down the path by someone who can truly understand the opportunities and how to implement them within their own complex environment. I find this a particularly difficult skill set to find. Very few people have the practical experience to do this well.

What’s on your reading list for 2017?

Tools for Titans, The Open Organization and The New Digital Age.

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

The connected automobile and the possibilities it represents for many companies. This has been a core focus for me over the last 5 years. The second area has been food safety & compliance. The possibilities in these areas have been of great interest with many opportunities.

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

Automated learning bot to answer my email.


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