Moving to a data era – an interview with Cisco’s Wim Elfrink

Cisco Systems’ Chief Globalisation Officer Wim Elfrink, has a wide remit covering emerging markets both geographically and in new industries.

As part of the Decoding the New Economy series of Interviews, Networked Globe caught up with Elfrink for the Australian Cisco Live Event two weeks ago in Melbourne to discuss the direction of the Internet of Things, smart cities and business in a connected economy.

The Rise of TIPSS

One of Elfrink’s key areas of responsibility is Cisco’s role in emerging economies. Until recently most of the discussion in that field has been around the BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – but now there’s a new group emerging.

“The next wave now is what we call TIPPS – Turkey, Indonesia, Poland, Saudi Arabia and South Africa,” says Elfrink.

Elfrink sees the internet of things as having a greater impact in the TIPSS markets; “we are moving from an industrial era to a data era.”

“A lot of these markets are greenfields, I always say God created the world in seven days because there was no installed base. So we can go immediately to the new technologies, the new applications and specifically new business models.”

For relatively under developed regions like Africa and South Asia this is also known as the ‘leap frogging effect’ where telecommunications providers don’t have the legacy landline systems incumbents in developed markets try to protect.

In the developed markets Elfrink see the Internet of Everything playing an important part in changing economies and cities.

Competitive cities

Smart cities are one of the great opportunities Elfrink sees with three major factors affecting communities; economic competitiveness, sustainability and competing for young workers.

“Cities are reinventing themselves and understanding that they are playing in a global market.”

Elfrink’s view reflects that of Barcelona’s Deputy Mayor Antoni Vives who told Networked Globe last year how the Catalan centre is using the internet of things and smartcity technologies to improve his city’s position in the connected economy.

One of the imperatives Elfrink sees for cities is their competitive position in attracting young talent, “more and more as the world is aging and shrinking, how do you compete for young people? The young people are much more mobile than when I was a young kid.”

Fog computing

One of the areas Cisco sees as being an opportunity is what the company terms ‘fog computing’, distributed processing where much of the data processing is done locally.

“The term fog refers to the cloud being close to the ground,” say Elfrink. “It’s what we call distributed computing.”

“An example is a smart train, you can have a router on the train and you can have an application thate where a train goes in tunnel and loses the connection.”

In Elfrink’s view Big Data is a great opportunity for businesses in finding new revenue streams and increasing efficiencies. Over the next five years he sees the volume of data increasing along with intensity of competition.

“The only thing I can predict things will accelerate faster and faster,” Efrink predicts. “The internet of things is disruptive, it should be transformational.”

About the author

Paul Wallbank is the founding editor of Networked Globe and has nearly twenty years experience of working in and reporting on computers, the internet and the future of our connected society.