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This month on EDGE360, we are focused on a series of 2017 predictions. Recently, Comstor’s David McNicholas discussed the impact of the digital evolution in 2017.  Bryant Tow focused on the security threats in 2017. Today, we turn to Cisco for insight into the market and trends to look out for in the coming year. Matt Asman, Cisco Innovation Manager, leads the Service Innovation Excellence Center (SIEC), which is a small group with a big passion for innovation. While many companies are heading into 2017 with uncertainty, Asman proposes a few guideposts to ensure innovation is occurring, based on his team’s research. Here are the top 3 trends, Asman recommends to be a part of in 2017.

  1. A move towards faster project incubation and learning

In the face of growing uncertainty, innovation project timeframes have to get shorter. More corporate businesses will adopt the Lean Startup approach of experimentation, rapid incubation and fast failure.

By taking this approach, you create rigor around the evaluation of both problems and ideas. This allows innovation teams to stay focused on genuine problem solving, while helping to identify dead-end ideas early in the process. Customer validation will play a more prominent role in the innovation process, testing concepts in the real world and helping to keep new concepts and initiatives relevant.

The Lean Startup is a strong framework for innovation, but this methodology must be understood and applied correctly. It’s not a linear process – genuine disruptive innovation is often messy and ambiguous. The best ideas will only emerge after several iterations and refinements, something that many businesses aren’t ready to allow.

So the question becomes, “Is your business ready?”

  1. A growing presence of innovative technology and automation in business

The prevalence of technology in business continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. 2016 was the coming of age for exciting technologies, such as augmented reality and virtual reality, which are now finding genuine uses in medicine, real estate and other areas.

2017 also will bring incredible innovation. Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, other new cognitive technologies, and the continued expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT) will transform the way many organizations fundamentally operate and interact with their customers. As a result, we’re likely to see more experimental innovations emerge using technology such as these at their core to push the boundaries of possibility.

New technology undoubtedly improves the way we live and work, but it mustn’t come at the expense of people and jobs. Technological innovation should be accompanied by a conscious effort to reskill people of all ages for the future. Children must be educated for a workplace very different to the one we inhabit today, but older generations of workers, and their skills, must not be lost either.

Ask yourself, “How will my organization reskill for the future?

  1. An increase in co-creation around innovation

The concept of co-creation has long been known, but largely unpracticed in the business world. However, a growing desire to protect their futures has led many companies to become less guarded in recent years and paved the way for an exciting new collaborative movement. Tesla Motors is perhaps the most extreme example of this, opening up all of its patents to the public in a bid to move the electric car industry forward. There are many other collaborations now taking place as well, between companies normally seen as direct competitors. Cisco itself works closely with Apple, Intel and Microsoft on a variety of innovation projects that move all partners forward.

Of course, with collaboration of this nature there comes a point where a natural divergence occurs. By that point, however, a great deal of healthy innovation and progression has already taken place. Remember, as an innovator, you don’t need come up with completely new ideas. Rather look at things with fresh eyes or from a new angle. This often is all that’s needed to make a breakthrough. Look out for the term “copetition”—cooperating with competitors!

Look around and be prepared to say, “Let’s co-create.”

Interested in reading more? Check out Matt’s original post at: https://blogs.cisco.com/innovation/trends-to-be-part-of-in-2017