Game Theory and the Power of Innovating as an Industry

The recent passing of John Forbes Nash made me wonder how his ingenious game theory can be applied to technology innovation.


Very simply put, Nash’s theory of equilibrium puts forth that outcomes are more attainable for all parties when they work cooperatively toward a goal rather than against each other in isolation. Knowing each other’s mindset and working together gives each party a better chance at achieving his or her objective than working on their own.


This theory has been used to analyze everything from wars and sports to evolutionary biology and games of skill.


I think it applies as well to technology innovation, especially in today’s digital era of the Internet of Everything – the connection of people, processes, data, and things.


Of course, every business wants to beat the competition and win the big prize. However, when it comes to the Internet of Everything, the market opportunity of $19 trillion is so vast and complex that no single company can win it all by itself.


It takes a community of like-minded technology suppliers, customers, partners, incubators, startups, entrepreneurs, and developers all innovating together. The power of industry-wide cooperation cannot be overestimated. Two recent events provide classic examples.


Last month, the Internet of Things World Forum Steering Committee, representing thought leaders from businesses, universities, cities, and governments worldwide, decided to bring back the second annual Innovation Grand Challenge, which will culminate with award ceremonies at the end of this year in Dubai. Although its members may have differing views on many topics, together they realized the importance of promoting an international competition to accelerate innovations for the betterment of all.


Last year’s Grand Challenge winners, selected from more than 1,000 entries in 100 countries, already have gained market traction for themselves as well as for their customers and partners, who are benefitting from fresh IoT-related starter kits, middleware, developer tools, industry solutions and much more. This collaborative competition helps advance technology innovations for the Internet of Things.


This week, at Cisco Live! San Diego, we are hosting a network, engineers, IT managers, startups, and ninja developers worldwide to converge, learn and have some competitive fun together at the DevNet Zone. Hackathons, learning labs, theater sessions, and workshops are all part of the atmosphere created to cultivate innovation.


We introduced DevNet Zones at Cisco Live! events one year ago, and the results since then have been truly amazing. Rapid prototyping, applications, and platform advances have been developed literally overnight many times, again validating the power and speed of working together toward common goals as an industry.

What are your ideas on how companies can leverage game theory to innovate outside their four walls?


This article originally appeared on Cisco Blogs on June 9, 2015