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Latin America: How Innovation Can Fuel a New Economic Cycle

(SPANISH LANGUAGE) Cisco’s Gustavo Sorgente presente para hablar del futuro de las ciudades / Cisco’s Gustavo Sorgente presents his vision for the future of cities at WEF Latin America

A Cisco delegation led by Latin America President Jordi Botifoll and Central America, Northern South America and Caribbean (CANSAC) Managing Director Gustavo Sorgente participated actively last week in the World Economic Forum on Latin America, in Panama (April 1-3/2014). More than 600 leaders from government, business and civil society gathered together to discuss the region’s main challenges, and to propose innovative solutions under the theme Opening pathways for shared progress.

Latin America, a market of more than 600 million people, has strong macroeconomic fundamentals. However, the economic and social indicators show the need to increase productivity in the region in order to maintain sustainable economic and social development. This understanding along with the decrease in global growth and the change in patterns of investments combined with challenges in education, healthcare, infrastructure and technology framed the conversations conducted during the WEF in Panama.  

It was clear during the event that Latin America is going through a very special moment and this represents a great opportunity. A cycle of rapid growth based on the economic demand for raw materials and easy lines of credit is over. We are already in a new cycle where the macroeconomic environment is more complex and therefore requires structural reforms that have long ago been proposed in the region. In this new stage it is vital that what has been built and will be built should be sustainable, based on thinking big for the long term. In this way we can counter pendulous economic cycles, and the significant ups and downs, which have historically characterized this region. Within this context, investments in technology play a key role in achieving improvements in productivity and competitiveness to generate sustainable groth.

Attacking the problem of productivity in the long term is a challenge for the region, and this was one of the main conclusions at WEF. The main task for the region is not confronting economic instability but low growth, potentially at annual rates of 2-3%, which will not meet the high expectations of the populations, in particular for the growing middle class. The only way to grow at a higher rate is increasing productivity: improving education, elevating innovation, enhancing infrastructure and achieving better competitiveness.

At the several meetings we participated in, it was manifested that the region must double its investments in infrastructure in general and in technology in particular to improve productivity. Within this context, how to improve Latin American cities was something present in many discussions, some of them led by Cisco. 

Latin America’s momentum requires us to make fundamental decisions regarding physical technological investments that can help promote innovation and increase productivity. Together, this actions will lead to higher indexes of competitiveness which can only result in a more effective and efficient society, and in the so much needed social development of the region.

We hope that the WEF recommendations for Latin America start to materialize urgently.

TyN Group: Cisco CANSAC Managing Director Gustavo Sorgente is interviewed at WEF Latin America

TyN Group: Cisco Government Affairs Director Andrés Maz is interviewed at WEF Latin America

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IT Takes a Seat at the Business Table

As we move ahead in this Internet of Everything era, we’re sure to see more connections and integration—and that’s why technology professionals have to work to understand the big picture, moving out of IT silos and taking an end-to-end business view—with a services bent. The point’s well made in a recent Gartner Insight on the importance of aligning IT strategies with business goals to “remain relevant beyond 2020”:

IT leaders, often operating in “firefighting mode,” fail to look beyond the next task to understand IT service costs or the impact IT has on the business. IT organizations need to develop a service-provider mindset to align IT goals with those of the business
and to be relevant into the next decade.

Gartner analysts Robert Naegle and Jim McGittigan go on to note that tech-centric organizations must move to a services mindset, from supply driven, functionally aligned, and technically siloed to demand driven, customer centric, service obsessed, and process based.

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San Jose Students Harness Wind Energy

From world premier sailboat racing to wind surfing to flying kites in the park, young men and women in the Bay Area grow up using wind energy in creative and exciting ways. But since early January, teams of students have been challenged with an even bigger task: “Harnessing the Wind” to move water. These days, water is a scarce resource in California—the state spends 19 percent of its total energy consumption to move and process it.

This Saturday and Sunday, April 12th and 13th, teams of fifth through twelfth graders will compete to harness the power of the wind in The Tech Museum of Innovation’s 27th annual Tech Challenge – the culmination of months of hard work and real-world lessons in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Students celebrate a successful design in last year’s Asteroid’s Rock challenge.

Students celebrate a successful design in last year’s Asteroid’s Rock challenge.

Now in its fourth year as presenting sponsor, Cisco is proud to work with programs like the Tech Challenge to help educate America’s students for tomorrow’s workforce. As President Obama outlined at the White House Science Fair last year, the importance of the country’s STEM education programs has never been more apparent. Today, technology companies employ six million people, but by 2018, the U.S. could face a job shortfall of 230,000 employees in STEM positions. As a member of The Tech Museum’s board, I’m proud of the initiative taken to offer students hands-on training for real, complex problems.

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Amsterdam Embraces the Internet of Everything, Paving the Way for a More Connected City

When people think of the Dutch capital of Amsterdam, they often think of bicycles, canals and progressive social values. Some may even know about its leadership in international trade, catalyzed centuries ago by the Dutch East India Company, the world’s first multinational corporation. Others may be more familiar with Amsterdam because of U.S. President Obama’s recent visit to the Rijksmuseum, which houses the world-famous painting The Night Watch by Rembrandt.

However, close 21st century observers know that Amsterdam is also a modern-day capital of collaborative innovation and some of the world’s most advanced Smart City deployments. Amsterdam was the first city in Europe to be connected to the Internet[1]. It was also one of the first cities to appreciate the importance of extending fiber-optic connectivity to its residents and businesses. At the same time, “green” is a priority and a practice in Amsterdam: The trams and streetcars run on green electricity, and the numerous data centers located in and around the city are required to comply with strict environmental rules.

These forward-thinking uses of technology help make Amsterdam one of the 15 most livable cities in the world according to Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey 2014: innovative, attractive, competitive, and connected! This early Internet pioneer is now set to take the next step by fully embracing the Internet of Everything and all the value it can deliver economically, socially and environmentally.

Amsterdam MoU SigningcroppedCisco is proud to play an important role in this evolution. Two days ago, (April 8), on behalf of Cisco, I had the pleasure of signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan, to jointly develop and implement a long-term Internet of Everything strategy for the city that connects people, processes, data, and things (see photo to the left). Cisco and the city of Amsterdam have been working together on a variety of Smart City endeavors for ten years now, including citywide optical fiber to the home, a Smart Grid, Smart Work place and Public TelePresence capabilities. By creating a more holistic Internet of Everything strategy for Amsterdam, the agreement will further strengthen our partnership Mayor and allow us to pursue new opportunities while protecting citizen security and privacy.

We will work with city officials to build a large local ecosystem to bring great exciting new innovations to this city and its citizens, initially focusing on smart lighting, smart parking and smart security in Southeast Amsterdam

According to distinguished Harvard economist Edward Glaeser, the City is human kind’s greatest invention. Imagine combining this with the greatest invention of the modern era: the Internet of Everything. In Amsterdam, and other great cities around the world, we are exploring new ways to more smartly manage water, traffic, energy, pollution, healthcare, travel, waste, lighting, crime and even parking.

In this age of rapid urbanization, I am convinced that cities that don’t embrace the Internet of Everything will be at a competitive disadvantage, and even be left behind. Cities with ambition and vision must help to lead the way. This MoU with Amsterdam is an important step for the Internet of Everything, for all Dutch citizens and for cities and citizens around the world.

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Our Data, Ourselves

We’re generating digital information at an exponential rate. It’s coming from more devices that are more connected than ever and getting smarter all the time.

  • In 2013, global mobile data traffic stood at 1.5 exabytes per month – the equivalent of 4,100 text messages each second.
  • By 2018, that will reach 15.9 exabytes per month – or 43,709 text messages each second! And 96% of that mobile data traffic will be “smart” traffic!

Welcome to the next wave of the Internet – the Internet of Everything. Imagine the amount of data we’re creating in this evolving digital world as more and more people and things connect. Technologies like cloud and mobility are fueling this growth – with the cloud as key enabler in helping us make sense of this data deluge. Global data center traffic is expected to triple by 2017, and cloud services and applications will make up 69% of that traffic.

Data itself (or simply storing it in the cloud) only gets you so far, however. The value lies in what you do with it, gaining insight and knowledge derived from data to empower your life and lead you to greater wisdom. That’s the real power behind connectivity. On a personal level, it calls for taking ownership of your “digital self,” leveraging cloud-enabled services not just for storage but to “talk” and interact with the digital world in a dynamic way and in real time. This can lead us to understand aspects of ourselves in ways never before possible – and harness actionable data to make better decisions that improve our lives.

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