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Sales and Marketing in the Age of the Customer

Several members of my team participated in this month’s Forrester Sales Enablement Forum, an annual conference where sales enablement professionals from around the world gather to discuss industry trends and best practices. This year’s theme: Drive growth with a 21st-century selling system, centered on strategies for surviving and thriving in “the age of the customer.”

With information virtually at their fingertips, buyers are more informed, savvy and selective than ever before. And, the old approaches to sales and marketing no longer produce the results we need to grow revenue.

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CIO Perspectives – Mobility, Customer Experience and the Road Ahead

Today’s CIOs understand how mobility and BYOD programs have benefited the companies thus far – from increased productivity, improved collaboration, reduced costs and much more, according to a recent Mobile Enterprise article.

In my conversations with many CIOs, they have agreed that mobile leads to more mobile. The success of their initial mobile solution deployments created a demand for more improvements, a challenge that was welcomed.

However, as many business and IT leaders understand the current benefits, some are still wondering what’s down the road and how the growing Internet of Everything (IoE) will impact the future of mobility and enhance tomorrow’s digital experience, for those both inside and outside of the workplace.

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Intelligent Cybersecurity for the Real World

Security trends and innovation are in the spotlight this week at the annual RSA Conference in San Francisco.   With the rapidly expanding attack surface and increasingly sophisticated attackers, the event is a must for insights on how the industry can meet this pace of change, evolve and defend against advanced threats.   Solving our customers’ toughest security challenges is our number one priority and we’re pleased to share Cisco innovation  -- both technology and thinking — that will better help you protect against threats across the attack continuum – before, during and after an attack.

For starters, we’re delivering new product innovation by adding Advanced Malware Protection (AMP) to our Web and Email Security Appliances and Cloud Web Security.  We are calling this “AMP Everywhere” because of its pervasive protection from the cloud to the network to the endpoint. This broad protection is made possible through the combined power of Cisco, Sourcefire and Cognitive Security technologies, integrated to bring you the best end-to-end solutions to combat Advanced Threats.

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Cisco Evolved Services Platform: OPEN for business

In the announcement of the Cisco Evolved Services Platform last week, we not only highlighted our initial service offers in mobility and video and the business benefits it enables, but also that it was open, extensible and elastic.  Openness is critical for providers by nature of the fact that their networks – often global in scope and mind-boggling in scale – require all the different technologies and often from different vendors installed to create the network experience desired actually can work together.  If not, it limits the offers they can take to market or requires operational contortions to make work, either of which would affect the provider’s ability to do business.

That’s why our engineering teams are so focused on making the Evolved Services Platform so Open.  They have incorporated Openstack and Open Daylight (SDN) protocol suite; they’ve made it fully compliant with ETSI NfV (MANO), 3GPP Gi-LAN and more.  In fact, their efforts in the more than 60 standards bodies helps us to factor into our roadmaps the latest understanding of the current standards and, just as importantly, where they are going.

But in addition to standards, the Cisco Evolved Services Platform needs to also be multi-vendor.  And on the first day of our largest tradeshow of the year, Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where pleased to highlight Broadsoft, Intel and Mavenir are joining in their endorsement of our approach.  Here’s what they said:

“At BroadSoft we are the leading application provider and working toward the NFV implementation with an open eco-system. We share an open platform strategy with Cisco around virtualization, orchestration and automation that provides an environment where customers, partners, and independent developers can freely innovate and develop integrated applications that offer greater value to users.  We are excited to work with Cisco to provide a virtualized/orchestrated VoLTE solution on the Cisco Evolved Services Platform.”, said Scott Hoffpauir, Chief Technology Officer, BroadSoft.

“With the virtualization capabilities enabled with the Evolved Services Platform, Cisco is able to address industry requirements for orchestration of services across both virtual and physical infrastructure,” said Rose Schooler, Vice President and General Manager of the Intel Communications and Storage Infrastructure Group.  “By utilizing the advanced features of the Intel Xeon server platform, Cisco is able to deliver solution architectures that are enabling the performance agility on fully open compute systems that service providers need to quickly scale new services, more customized to customer needs, with a faster time to market.”

“Virtualization is transforming our business by providing the agility, flexibility and profitability for service innovations. More importantly, providing  a cloud platform that is open, extensible and elastic for mobile solution providers is a key step toward realizing this direction. We are pleased to see Cisco making this vision a reality to the industry and its partners by providing the Cisco Evolved Services Platform.”, said Bahram Jalalizadeh, EVP of Business Development, Mavenir Systems

These, along with Openwave Mobility and Metaswitch, make up the initial members of the Cisco Evolved Services Platform Ecosystem, to help avoid making multi-vendor environment hamper a SP operations but rather to help give the service provider flexibility to pursue even more opportunities as they stay Open for business.

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Executing on Virtualization

With all the talk around virtualization in our industry, it’s easy to get a bit confused.  Between our industry’s love of acronyms and passionate evangelism of technological specs, it can be far too difficult at times to determine what’s really important, what is real, and what is just talk.  Our announcement of the Cisco Evolved Services Platform today is meant to address these very points.  It represents the progress we’ve made on our provider virtualization strategy and, unlike many others in the industry, orients the talk of virtualization around real business benefits and customer deployments.

The Evolved Services Platform represents a fundamental shift in the way service provider networks will be built.  It not only has the industry’s broadest, most comprehensive range of virtualized functions, but it also orchestrates them to create, automate and provision services in real time, across compute, storage and network functions across the entire architecture.  As the middle layer of the Cisco ONE SP architecture which works in conjunction with the infrastructure layer – the Evolved Programmable Network which we announced in September – the ESP ensures the right type of experience for subscribers regardless of how or where they connect to the network.  And it does this while also delivering both significant operational cost savings and the ability to more easily and quickly pursue new revenue generating opportunities.  In essence, the ESP does the equivalent for a service provider business as a retail storefront, factory, and tool kit would do for a manufacturer. It allows them to “manufacture” network experiences quickly, efficiently, and in a customized manner.

Those experiences can be many and span the entire provider’s existing services portfolio, plus an ever increasing array of new services that are now or will be possible in Internet of Everything.  But to help keep the business orientation of this announcement, we’re announcing the first two service modules, complete with business models that can help quantify the benefits to the providers that are interested in or already deploying them: Read More »

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