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Cisco Committed to Diversity and Tolerance

This weekend our President and Chief Operating Officer, Gary Moore, tweeted to reiterate Cisco’s commitment to a culture of diversity and tolerance in response to Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In doing so, we take pride in joining the largest Indiana-based employer, Eli Lilly and Co., which called the law “bad for Indiana and bad for business.”

Cisco is a company of many thousands of employees with different beliefs, different histories and different backgrounds. We come together to make the world a better place. And doing so requires that we work together, across the multitudes of our differences, with basic standards of behavior and engagement.

We favor laws that encourage open and effective collaboration, not those that seek to gain by dividing instead of uniting all people. That’s why we join Apple, Salesforce, Eli Lilly and so many others in urging that the law be amended to make clear that “religious freedom” isn’t presented as a way to discriminate against our fellow citizens.

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The Future of Retail Banking

During your morning workout at the gym, a device on your arm measures each step and connects with…your bank. By monitoring your healthy lifestyle, the bank can then arrange a lower rate on your health insurance. Later, when walking toward your office, you notice an apartment for sale in a neighborhood you have been scouting for real estate deals. So you point your smartphone at the building to view an augmented-reality image superimposed on the building. In turn, you see the price, square footage, and a live link to your bank’s virtual mortgage advisor.

These kinds of scenarios could become commonplace, once banks embrace the opportunities of the Internet of Everything (IoE) era. While today’s digital consumers demand experiences that are relevant to their current context, many feel that banks don’t understand their needs. Contextual interactions may be common when buying books or streaming movies, but customers sense a “value gap” with their banks. And many are willing to trust disruptive innovators from outside the traditional realm of financial services to fill this void.

Banks can keep pace with customer demand by adopting IoE-enabled solutions that offer expert advice, value-added services and convenience, whenever and wherever customers need them — and do so securely. Wearables and augmented reality are among the more forward-looking innovations that banks should be exploring today. But there are many other ways for banks to reconnect with customers.

In a recent Cisco survey of banking customers in 12 countries, respondents were extremely receptive to five core IoE-enabled banking solutions centered on advice (virtual financial advice, virtual mortgage advice and automated financial advice) and mobility (branch recognition and mobile payments). Seventy-five percent would move their money to another provider for one or more of the five concepts. In emerging markets, respondents are twice as likely to move their money.

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Becoming a Woman of Impact

Be Fearless! That was the theme of an incredible Cisco Women of Impact Conference last week, and like most of the 4,850 people joining from about 80 sites around the world, I came away inspired and energized by all I heard and learned during the day.  We came together as women (and men) that wanted to learn, connect and share ideas on how we could personally make a bigger impact.  I know I took home many new ideas and many new friendships.

I’m very proud and extremely fortunate to be the EMEAR executive sponsor of Connected Women.  The Women of Impact day is one of our key events – designed to provide ideas and insights, help women connect, and encourage them—no, all of us—to reach for more.  It’s a powerful reminder of the power of diversity in our business.

So, what does it mean to be fearless?

First of all, it’s about going beyond fear.  It’s about recognizing fear when it crops up (and believe me, it will), and then having the courage to set it aside and to move forward, whatever the obstacles.  Effective leadership often means stepping into the unknown, disregarding fear and focusing on how you can make an impact.

To go beyond fear is to Be Bold! This goes beyond being fearless – it’s proactive! As Shari Slate, Cisco’s head of Inclusion & Diversity, said ‘Make it happen! Dream big, be bold, be outrageously collaborative, be unstoppable!’.  Think outside the box and don’t be afraid to take risks. Even if it scares you and you haven’t got it all figured out, sometimes you just have make a start and work it out as you go along.  Bold moves demand imagination and determination and I think women have a little bit of an advantage when it comes to those qualities … but then I’m not entirely objective here, as I’m a woman.

Being fearless is also about being your best authentic self. As Biba Binotti, the founder of Red Hat People, said ‘don’t let the ‘gremlins’ of self-doubt get in the way’.  Learn from others – there are always ways to do things better – but don’t try to emulate someone else in order to achieve their success. It doesn’t work that way.  After all, we’re all different – a different mix of skills and life experiences.  So don’t be afraid to be you. Do things that fit with your core values and your essential personality. Be yourself and believe in yourself.  There is a CEO in every single one of us. We can all be a leader if we own being the best at what we do.

To be fearless also means to step outside your comfort zone and to embrace change. It’s good to have a plan, but in our fast-evolving world, it’s also imperative to stay agile. Just look at the market transitions we are in and how we’re changing as a business to make the most of them. Many of our presenters – all people of impact – spoke about how they had adapted to change and made the most of the opportunities it brought. We each build up transferable skills that can be applied to new roles and sometimes even tactical sideways or downwards moves can deliver greater rewards.

Each one of the presenters—men and women—‘walked the talk’ and have been fearless in their journeys.  Each one of them showed that we can all be women of impact and leaders of change.

I know the results of that change and that impact will propel Cisco forward at an even greater pace.

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The Center for Digital Business Transformation: Helping Our Customers Thrive in a Digital World

Powerful technology trends including, social, mobile, cloud, and Big Data are converging, creating unprecedented “digital disruption.” We are in a unique period of time where business and technology leaders have the opportunity to create new value and win market share by leveraging the advantages of a hyper-connected world.

Agile competitors with better business models seemingly emerge overnight. Ingrained ways of thinking and working make changing to an innovative culture painfully slow. Needed talent and resources lie outside the four walls of the organization in a wider ecosystem of capabilities. And while technology challenges abound as we confront the future, people and process changes are even more vexing for most organizations.

So how do executives keep their companies from being added to the growing heap of once venerable brands that didn’t transform fast enough?

It’s not easy.

According to Gartner research, by 2020, 75 percent of companies will be a digital business or will be preparing to become one, yet only 30 percent of these efforts will be successful. The number one reason companies fail to transform is because they don’t re-imagine and reinvent the business from top to bottom before they begin.

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Entrepreneurs: Your Invitation to Innovate with Cisco in Europe – Second Season Application Now Open

It was only last November that I wrote about our first Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence (Cisco EIR) cohort in Europe. I knew then we had started something special – an incubation model that allows Cisco to tap into the immense talent of the European startup community and helps address many of the unique challenges entrepreneurs face in the region. Only a few months into our first European season, our startups have gained significant traction inside Cisco – and are demonstrating potential for strategic relationships and differentiation with us.

With this success in mind, I am pleased to announce we are now accepting applications from startups located in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Russia (EMEAR) to join our second season cohort in the region. We have partnered with Pioneers once again and are looking forward to announcing the winners on stage at the Pioneers Festival in Vienna in May. Find out more and apply here.

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