Datamation staff writer Emma Crockett interviewed Samuel Pasquier, VP of Product Management, Cisco IoT, who shared his perspective on the development and growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) industry.
Samuel Pasquier Q&A
How Did You First Start Working In The IoT Market?
In November 2015, after having spent 10 plus years working in Cisco’s Enterprise switching product lines. I wanted to expand my scope and take on a new challenge with a new market. Cisco offered me this opportunity and It’s been an amazing 8 plus years.
What Is Your Favorite Thing About Working At Cisco?
It’s hard to pick one thing, but I can break it down to three main things. I love the IoT space and the technologies we build. Every day I’m working with customers and our internal teams to connect people and the physical world with great technology to create a better future for everyone. That brings me to number two – and that’s the people. I love our teams who bring their amazing experience, spirit, and dedication to helping our customers achieve success. We do that with a lot of hard work and also fun mixed in. And I can’t leave out Cisco. It’s a great company to work for with great values and amazing leadership. We continually win Best Place to Work and I do feel that way about the company as well.
What Sets Cisco’s IoT Approach Or Solutions Apart From The Competition?
Cisco understood very early on that to get the promise of IoT, you need to get people working together. For us, that’s usually the IT teams that have built out decades of networking infrastructure collaborating with the operational technology (OT) teams. These OT teams are running the manufacturing sites, power grids, highway departments, mines, ports, and so many other industries where technology is empowering the operations. That’s where we really stand apart from the competition—combining decades of Cisco networking experience with our expertise in these operational settings.
The IoT Market
What Is One Key New IoT Technology That Particularly Interests You?
IoT isn’t a single technology. It’s more an umbrella term about how technologies can be leveraged to help drive outcomes for organizations. It’s about connecting IT to the physical world to improve business outcomes, make operations more efficient, and make the world safer and more secure.
The interesting part for me is exactly that—that IoT is a set of technologies that need to work together and that we get to spend our days figuring out how to constantly improve on that.
Asking me to pick one is like being asked to pick your favorite child. If I have to pick, I would say LoRaWAN (Editor’s note: low-power, wide area networking protocol built on top of the LoRa radio modulation) as it’s a disruptive technology that enables new use cases that were not previously affordable.
What Is One New IoT Technique That Teams Should Implement?
For me, it’s not so much a question of technique but a question of culture. Our customers have teams with very different backgrounds and responsibilities. You need to find ways for them to collaborate and work cross functionally to digitize their processes.
What Is One New IoT Strategy That Companies Should Implement?
Over the last 8 years working within the IoT space, I have observed that the most successful companies leveraging technology to improve their business have really started by changing the way they look at the problem. They create internal organizations with a mix of skills/experience/expertise. Then they are able to have these interdisciplinary teams work together to solve their key challenges without the boundaries of internal team organization. So to be successful, organizations first need to have the right people organization to lead the change.
What Is The Biggest IoT Mistake You See Enterprises Making?
I have seen a lot of enterprises creating some digitization offices, or innovation teams to help transform the business. Unless it’s really built-in to the business/organizational entities, it generally has a very hard time to go beyond the proof-of-concept phase. We all love great ideas but enterprises need to have teams involved that can scale and deploy the solutions as well.
What Are Some Current Trends In The IoT Market That Are Promising?
As we look to the future, we see clear trends in industrial operations—more use of cloud-based applications, virtualization of control functions, and more artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML)–powered analytics. Software-defined approaches will use software to manage and optimize the entire manufacturing process, including product design, scheduling, supply chain management, quality control, and maintenance. “Digital twin” technology will simulate a product from its design, production, and performance when deployed and optimizes the product and production system before investment in physical prototypes and building of assembly lines.
These uses are possible only through high-performance networking, built-in security, and machine-to-cloud connectivity. I am proud to say that Cisco Industrial Ethernet switches and the rest of our IoT portfolio is gearing up to lead this charge.
What Are The Biggest Factors That Are Driving Change In IoT?
I can’t overstate the impact of security on the IoT market. Organizations need to accelerate their security posture in the networks and operational spaces. Cybersecurity remains one of the top drivers in the IoT space. As they look to digitize their operational environments, they need to do this with security built in.
The collaboration between IT and OT is also accelerating. As organizations digitize and transform their operational settings, these teams are coming together to leverage existing technology investments and their collective expertise.
Another leading factor is supporting organizations on their sustainability journey. New types of initiatives like electric vehicle (EV) charging networks, energy storage, and carbon capture and storage are becoming more common.
How Has IoT Changed During Your Time In The Market?
I’ve seen first-hand the shift from awareness of IoT technologies to a progression of proof of concepts and now the acceleration of deployments across industries.
It was 20 years ago, March 2003, that we launched our first industrial ethernet switch and entered the industrial networking market. At that time, we arrived to support industrial organizations in adopting IP connectivity throughout their operations, along manufacturing lines, inside electric substations, deep inside mines and beyond. The past two decades have brought an explosion in the number and variety of applications that IT and operational technology teams are supporting—often in some of the wettest, dustiest, non-climate-controlled places on Earth.
Personnel in IoT
If You Could Give One Piece Of Advice To An IoT Professional In The Beginning Of Their Career, What Would It Be?
I’d say that you should accept that you need diverse expertise to be successful in an IoT Project. It’s not about IT vs OT. It’s IT + OT + security teams working together.
With The Shortage Of Tech Talent, How Is Your Team Finding And Retaining Professionals To Work In IoT?
Cisco has extensive programs to ensure that we attract and retain great talent across the organization, from our university hiring programs, veteran programs, return to work, and more. For us in IoT, my teams tell me that the reason they love working is seeing first hand the great outcomes we are delivering for our customers. With IoT, you get the benefit of seeing first-hand how IoT is improving organizations—more efficient manufacturing plants, weaving renewables into the grid, making the roads safer, and more.
For The Greatest Business Impact, What Should IoT Professionals Be Focusing On Most In Their Roles?
To bring the greatest business impact, IoT professionals should think about scale and operational aspects from the beginning of any project. Proof of concepts are easy; production deployment at scale that will need years of support are much harder.
What Is One Of Your Top Professional Accomplishments?
I take great pride in building great teams and getting everyone to work together. We spend so much of our time at work. It’s really important to have teams that work with great people accomplishing great things.
What Is Your Favorite Part Of Working In The IoT Market?
I love how we can leverage technology to solve a real customer problem. In a world that is more virtual than ever, it’s nice to see the very direct impact of technology with the physical world. Seeing a tangible outcome makes the work likewise tangible and rewarding.
What Is One Of Your Favorite Parts Of The Work Week? How Does It Encourage Or Inspire You?
I meet three or more customers a week which affords me the opportunity to learn directly from them, hear their business/challenges, and understand their view on technology. It’s a great way to step back from the kitchen to understand what they really need.
Do You Have A Favorite Way To Recharge During The Workday?
I start my day very early with a one-hour workout at 5:30am. It sounds crazy and I was the first person to be confused how people do this. But it’s actually very energizing and helps me tremendously to keep my mind in check during the long work hours.
What Are Your Favorite Hobbies Or Ways To Spend Time Outside Of Work?
If I’m not in my garage doing woodworking, I’m on a rugby field coaching my two sons’ rugby team.
About Samuel Pasquier
Samuel Pasquier is head of product management for Cisco System’s Industrial IoT Connectivity Portfolio, which is designed to meet IoT needs in manufacturing, oil and gas, utilities, transportation, mining, and the public sector. In this position he oversees the development of the portfolio’s strategic direction, roadmap and investments. Under his leadership the portfolio has achieved 16 consecutive quarters of double-digit revenue growth, increased share in five markets, and doubled its overall revenue.