Padmasree Warrior believes that by leveraging the Internet of Things, the next generation of vehicles will be better poised to eliminate the pain points that come with owning and maintaining a car.
One of the most respected and influential women in technology has left a Silicon Valley company for one based in the Far East, and she’s poised to bring technology to the next level in a fast-growing (and fast-moving) new space.
As her name implies, Padmasree Warrior is a force to be reckoned with. Three times she’s graced Forbes Magazine’s The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women list, was inducted into Women in Information Technology International’s Hall of Fame in 2007 and is currently a member of the board of directors at Microsoft.
A chemical engineer by trade, Warrior spent the majority of her career as the chief technology officer of multi-billion dollar companies such as Cisco Systems and Motorola, but she changed courses in December 2015 when she accepted the role of Chief Executive Officer of U.S. Operations at NextEv, a Chinese start-up looking to compete in the electric car space.
“When I left Cisco, I was trying to decide what to do, and I wanted to pick an area where we could apply technology to solve big problems, something with a global impact,” said Warrior.
The move intrigued the tech world on a number of levels. Many were expecting Warrior to land a CEO position at a much larger tech company (Twitter reportedly reached out to her about its vacant CEO spot), and she also had no previous experience within the auto industry.
Warrior met with NextEV founder William Li. What was expected to be a 45-minute conversation turned into an hours-long discussion on how to transform mobility in the age of the internet.
Warrior left the meeting inspired and ready to redefine transportation.
“As consumers, we encounter many pain points at every stage of buying and owning a vehicle,” Warrior said in a statement on why she decided to join NextEv. “Why can’t your car be as easy to own, operate, update and personalize as your smart-phone?”
Redefining Industry with the Internet of Things
When Warrior was contemplating her next steps after Cisco, she considered ways that other industries such could benefit from the Internet of Things (IoT), where traditionally unconnected objects become “smart” via the ability to connect to the internet.
“IoT is about data coming together in new ways and insights from that data enabling faster decisions,” said Warrior.
Warrior said companies like Microsoft, Cisco and Intel are using IoT to transform industries like education, healthcare and manufacturing – by integrating sensor networks, data analytics and machine learning. According to Aicha Evans, corporate vice president and general manager of the Intel Communications and Devices Group, that future is all about 5G, the next evolution of wireless technology.
Evans is one of the innovators making sure that smarter, faster, more powerful networks are in place so that the connected future can become a reality.
“5G is more than an evolutionary step forward for our industry,” said Evans. “It encompasses many technologies and a much wider ecosystem than has ever been seen in the wireless and telecommunications industries.”
She said 5G will be a true paradigm shift in the relationship between society and technology.
“It is essential to lay the foundation for future 5G networks now to make amazing experiences of the future possible.”
To build that foundation, Intel is focusing on three key areas: partnerships with tech companies like Verizon, Ericsson, and SK Telecom; development of 5G-related hardware and software; and support of 5G standards-setting. She said efforts like Intel’s 5G mobile trial platform are helping pave a smooth path to seamless connection between a device, the network and the cloud.
While the powerful technology that is being developed is required for innovation, Warrior believes collaborating with the right people is key to capitalizing on all the potential of the IoT.
“Breakthroughs happen when divergent viewpoints collide,” she said. “I am committed to creating a culture that outlasts any technology shift.”
NextEv is now gearing up to unveil its all-electric, road-legal “supercar” this fall, followed by a vehicle for the consumer market in late-2017, according to the company’s president, Martin Leach.
While the auto industry (and the rest of the world) waits to see what the next step in transportation looks like, Warrior is looking at the big picture—and she sees nothing but possibility.
“I believe we haven’t even tapped into the true potential of the Internet of Things,” she said.