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Digital Disruptors and the Future of Consulting

In my role as leader of the Analytics Practice for Cisco® Consulting Services, I often meet with clients who remind me of how the nature of consulting is changing. Traditionally, a consultant’s value and relevance to the customer has been derived from his or her business background and knowledge of specific industries or areas of expertise. The consultant comes in and takes a look at the client’s critical business issues, then makes top-down recommendations based on his or her specialized business experience.

This traditional model is being challenged by what I call “digital disruptors”—consultants whose credibility comes not just from their past experience, but from their ability to extract value and insight based on data that is gathered at the operational base of the organization: the network. This bottom-up approach is turning the consulting industry on its head—driven by data gathered on the network and turned into business insights by analytics.

Consider, for example, a major enterprise that has made a large investment in infrastructure for video collaboration. The company’s leaders want to see what kind of value they are getting back from their investment in order to evaluate further investment in collaboration. Cisco Consulting can help this customer not only because of our industry expertise, or even because of our knowledge of video collaboration technology—but because we can take an analytics-based, digital-disruption approach to the customer’s challenges. The key is our ability to tap into the video infrastructure itself, combine network and other types of data, and give the client a view of how the infrastructure is being utilized.

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Use SDN Strategically – and NOT as a “Band Aid”

December 17, 2013 at 10:55 am PST

hammer nut

The other week I attended the “Software Defined Networking 2013” conference in London.  This is a UK-based event for the discussion of SDN, OpenFlow and Network Virtualisation Solutions from a strategic perspective.  There were quite a few interesting perspective s I picked up at this conference.  In particular, the conference for me reinforced the potential of SDN – but if you apply it to the wrong problem, you may not get the return you hope for!

Top of mind for me, then, coming out of this conference was a demo of “What SDN Can Do For You” from one of our competitors.  At best, the phrase “using a sledge hammer to crack a nut” comes to mind.

The demo came from our friends in Palo Alto, who once (boldly but incorrectly!) predicted  that “Cisco UCS would be dead a year after launch”. They gave a SDN-focused demo that, when I “peeled back the onion”, didn’t demonstrate a compelling SDN use case.  Rather, it convinced me that if you have this particular problem as illustrated in their demo, you don’t need SDN: you need a new vendor!

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Feeding the Children: Cisco’s Global Hunger Relief Campaign in India

December 17, 2013 at 9:00 am PST

Rohini KamathThis post was written by Rohini Kamath, who works for Cisco’s Community Relations team in Bangalore, India, helping employees give back to society.

As we inch closer to the final week of Cisco’s signature fundraising campaign, the Global Hunger Relief Campaign, we look back and feel proud about the 150,000 children we have fed over the last 6 years through our exclusive nongovernmental organization (NGO) partner Akshaya Patra Foundation.

Akshaya Patra, one of the largest mid-day meal programs in the world, serves meals across 10,000 schools in India. The Global Hunger Relief Campaign this year aims to fundraise to benefit 40,000 children for an entire year. To add momentum to the effort, the Cisco HR team in India organized a marathon in support of the campaign. With the mission of “achieving miles for smiles,” over 300 employees participated.

Food packages that Cisco employees put together are delivered to students at a government-run school.

Food packages that Cisco employees put together are delivered to students at a government-run school

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Cisco eStore Launches Globally Today – Next Step in Driving Consumerization of IT at Cisco

Those of you who follow my blog know that one of our mantras at Cisco IT is to bring a more consumer-like experience to all of our IT services.  We have made great strides in this area through our BYOD program that allows employees to bring their own mobile devices to work and with our productivity apps (EasyApps). Read More »

Predictions 2014: Wager on the Internet of Everything

You heard it first here: “In 2014, the Internet of Everything (IoE) will accelerate the growth of manufacturing industries to outpace overall U.S. GDP growth by >3x.”

As my colleague Jim Grubb points out, the IoE itself is no longer a prediction in-and-of-itself.  The joining of people, process, data and things to transform information into actions and create new capabilities, richer experiences and unprecedented opportunities is already a global reality.  Just how IoE impacts our economies and industries —including what many believe to be an American Manufacturing Renaissance— is what remains for our collective imaginations, innovations and entrepreneurial ingenuity.

To gain some insights and guidance on manufacturing movements, I turn to industry analyst expertise.  Bob Parker, IDC Group Vice President, last week hosted the IDC Manufacturing Insights 2014 Predictions: Worldwide Manufacturing, one in a series of annual web conferences where IDC analysts share their industry outlook for the upcoming year in the form of a Top 10 Predictions.  Below, I provide a recap of what Bob and his team had to say about global IT investment trends and business initiatives relating to key process areas within manufacturing, along with my contentions around the impact of IoE on the manufacturing economy and why I believe we will see a growth inflection in the industry next year.
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