The Cisco Government Affairs team had an offsite this week and heard from a number of Cisco executives during our two and a half day session. One of those executives was Mike Volpi, Senior Vice President and General Manager of our Routing Technology Group, and for my money, one of the smartest individuals at Cisco. You can view his bio here. (This is an Adobe document)
One of the items he shared with us was that a customers of one well-known cable company were accessing 84 MILLION VOD (Video on Demand) titles a month!!! About 23 per active VOD customer per month. These are all bits and bytes and being accessed over an IP network. There are currently about 5000 titles being accessed and that number will only grow. Why is this VOD item interesting you might ask? There has always been the issue of the next “KILLER APPLICATION.” First, it was e-mail and that drove many people to sign up online. VoIP is proving to pull many people to broadband, but the VOD is seemingly having people access IP communications without leaving the comfort of their couch. The notion of TV and storage and IP communications is all merging.
This is interesting to me because it introduces the notion of the “future proof” network. In the past, when a new communications device was introduced a whole new communications infrastructure also had to be built. Telegraphs needed telegraph wires. Phones needed phone lines. TV’s needed a broadcasting system. Now, however, with the flexibility of IP -- the basic infrastructure for new communications can carry future communications services -- it can carry video…it can carry voice…it can carry data…what it can do is carry 1′s and 0′s, which is all those media are in the first place. Pretty cool concept and hopefully something that we will all benefit from as service providers build out their next generation networks.
This Sunday the NYT previewed Tom Friedman’s new book “The World is Flat,” about globalization, technology and how the global playing field flattened while many were watching other things. I had a deja vu moment.
I had the same feeling I had when I was working at the Antitrust Division at Justice during the late 90s, dealing with competition issues and the new economy, the merger wave, and globalization and “The Lexus and the Olive Tree” came out, and talked about how global economic forces where fundamentally changing the world, and that competition mattered — I thought — hey, we’ve been working on that, this is exactly right…..
We all try to connect the dots. It strikes me that Tom Friedman is extraordinary at this, and expressing it in terms we all can understand. I've only read the excerpt in the Times, and I can’t say I would agree with everything he says (and who ever agrees with all of anything…), but there are lots of elements which we have understood, and are brought together in an elegant way. He talks about how the fact that all knowledge and innovation is now robustly connected. That this fact has changed the on the ground dynamics and opportunities for the billions of people in the developing world (hundreds of thousands -- millions?- of whom are incredibly smart and driven), and how each country, the US included, needs to fundamentally think about where it fits-in and what it will be doing in the next 20 years. The upside — dynamic global innovation. The downside, the challenge to us all, and our institutions-- not the least of which is the US education system -- is how to compete and drive direction in this very new world…. All worth a read no doubt….
Please check out a snippet in the New York Times today from Thomas Friedman’s new book, ”The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century,” to be published this week. Read the article adapted from the book here (Free registration is required). He states, “…I encountered the flattening of the world quite by accident. It was in late February of last year, and I was visiting the Indian high-tech capital, Bangalore…” He talks about how geography is becoming more and more irrelevant because of language and technology.
I heard Mr. Friedman deliver the gist of this article in a speech he gave in February at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR) Economic Summit and while it was well done and well received, I didn’t put a lot of thought into it until today. I read his article this morning and still didn’t give a lot of thought to it. I gave more thought to it when my Spanish colleague from Brussels and my French colleague from France arrived this afternoon to San Jose.
The content of our conversation is not important, but the fact that we were having an easy conversation made an impact on me after the fact. My Spanish colleague living in Belgium speaking perfect english. My French colleague living in Paris speaking perfect english. I took four years of French in high school and college and spent a couple of weeks in Spain one summer and can say, “Let’s go to the beach” in French and “I would like two beers, please” in Spanish…that’s about it.
Yes, I know that English is currently the “international” language and the language of economic power generally rules the day, but as the world gets flatter and the rules of the game become a little more flexible it stands to reason that those who can communicate in multiple languages will be more successful. Just as Cisco has become a successful company helping multiple computers communicate using internet protocol, those who can speak more than one language will have more chance of success in our flatter world. Which, of course, brings us to our education system in the US, but I won’t rant anymore. I might just start learning Spanish, however…or French…or Chinese…or Italian…or Russian…or…
Check out one of our top executives (SVP Jayshree Ullal) talking about our Self-Defending Network and Adaptive Threat Defense…and another talking about IT’s importance to healthcare (SVP Sue Bostrom -- my boss’ boss). They are about 10 minute videos that give a good overview of Cisco’s view on these issues.
You can see these videos and more here: http://newsroom.cisco.com/dlls/tln/execnet/or by clicking HERE
If nothing else you should check out some of the innovative things our communications team is doing to deliver messages via as many ways as possible…
http://www.sec.gov/interps/account/sab107.pdf (Adobe Document) or by clicking here.
The stock options coalition offered a statement today on the guidance which you can read here: http://www.savestockoptions.org/release032905.html or by clicking here.
Cisco did not issue a statement widely, but did offer a statement reactively to media. You can read it here:”We hope that the SEC guidance offered today will allow those who hold stock options to continue to participate in the ownership society and enable U.S. companies to remain globally competitive. This issue is importantto all shareholders and Cisco appreciates the SECs efforts to find a more realistic valuation that will address small, medium and large business concerns. We look forward to continue working with the SEC to further define the specific guidance they have outlined on these very complex issues.”
This issue has been going on for a long time and it appears that this guidance will not be the end of the discussion.
Speaking from my personal soapbox, I’m still a bit confused as to why many of those in government have not championed this issue as a way to make mom, dad, brother and sis as a part of the ownership society. Stock options have helped build some of the great American companies, from Microsoft to Intel to Cisco, etc. Why would regulators and lawmakers take away such a great tool? Perhaps I’ve had too much Kool-Aid (R) here at Cisco, but even looking at it pragmatically, I’m still not sure what is being gained by making stock options an expense when they are already accounted for in EPS. Sigh.