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Let’s Talk Firsts and Lasts

For 30 years, we’ve been helping change the way people work, live, play, and learn. During this time, our world has advanced faster than ever.

It seems like yesterday when we saw the introduction of the Macintosh, the first-ever consumer machine with a mouse and graphical interface. Then, just two years later in 1986, Cisco introduced the Advanced Gateway Server, or AGS.

This breakthrough multiprotocol router became the foundation for moving traffic across networks. In 1990, researcher Tim Berners-Lee developed HTML—the official language of the World Wide Web and the spark to make the Internet mainstream.

Today, it’s hard to remember life before the Internet. The industry has come a long way, and so have we.

We owe our founding to Len Bosack and Sandy Lerner, two former Stanford University computer technologists, who set Cisco on an incredible journey as a networking and Internet pioneer.

In 1995, less than 1 percent of the world’s population connected on the Internet. Today, more than 40 percent connect online.

We’ve seen businesses transformed and economies modernized. The way we buy and sell products has changed—so has their design, production, and distribution. It’s as if no industry has been untouched.

In the next 30 years and beyond, we’ll see everything become connected—people, process, data, and things. This will expand our understanding of the world and the experiences we have, and we’ll generate new ideas and discover new solutions.

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In Retail, Insight Is Currency, and Context Is King

Today’s retailers face a rising tide of change, disruption, and challenges, all driven by technology. As their business landscape is upended, many are struggling to adapt to changing consumer behaviors, competition from disruptive innovators, and exponentially increasing complexity.

The source of much of this disruption is the Internet of Everything (IoE). IoE is the networked connection of people, process, data, and things, and Cisco projects these connections to surge from 13 billion today to 50 billion in the next decade. For retailers, that means a sharp increase in the potential channels, devices, and shopping journeys that are available to consumers. Increasingly, retailers must meet new demands for relevant, efficient, and convenient shopping experiences, whether in-store or out.

IoE_Retail_Figure_Journey_3-2

But for traditional retailers, IoE also presents tremendous opportunities. At the National Retail Federation’s “Big Show” in New York this week, I have seen a great openness to change and innovation. As I see it, traditional retailers are ready to step into the IoE era, but they will need the right ecosystem of partners to guide them through the transformation and help them make the right investments.

To better understand these opportunities and the changing competitive dynamics in retail, Cisco recently undertook a comprehensive, three-pronged study consisting of original research, economic analysis, and interviews with retail industry thought leaders. Released this week, the first wave of primary research findings includes 1240 consumer responses from the United States and the United Kingdom.

A key theme that emerged from the research was that today’s consumers demand new kinds of digital experiences, both in-store and out. In our survey, we presented respondents with 19 concept tests — everything from digital signage and same-day delivery to mobile payments and augmented reality. Above all, we found that shoppers seek a hyper-relevant experience — more so than a hyper-personalized one. In short, efficiency and savings are more important to them than personal engagement.

In our survey, 38 percent of respondents identified greater efficiency in the shopping process (e.g., ensuring items are in stock, speeding checkout times) as the area retailers most need to improve. By contrast, 13 percent sought improvements that would lead to a more personalized shopping experience. Read More »

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A Grammy-Class Outcome to the Rockstar Patents

Today’s definitive agreement for purchase of the Rockstar patents by a subsidiary of patent clearinghouse RPX Corporation, with simultaneous licensing of the portfolio to more than 30 technology companies, including Cisco, represents a victory for common sense. It also puts to rest a wayward and misguided business model that threatened to add costs to industry and consumers with no benefits to innovation or economic development.  This step should also send a strong message to companies who toy with the idea of “monetizing” their patent portfolios through transactions with private equity and non-practicing-entities, or by shaking down other industry participants: They will find themselves isolated. In short, they will end up as net losers if they initiate a game based on short-sighted greed.

We’re taking a different approach. Working with RPX, we devised a licensing model where even those who chose not to join with more than thirty of their peers in this purchase will still have the chance to license on comparable and fair terms.  Kent Walker, the general counsel of Google, was instrumental in pulling this together. Brad Smith and Bruce Sewell, the general counsels of Microsoft and Apple, deserve huge credit for working with the other Rockstar members – Blackberry, Ericsson and Sony – to reach a consensus that produced this positive result.

The origins of “Rockstar” are found in the smartphone patent wars that began several years ago. While we have no quarrel with companies using their patents to stop the copying of differentiating features without permission (and in fact commented favorably on the direct Apple-Samsung litigation), the driving up of patent valuations as each side in the war sought to bulk up for battle ended up serving no one other than lawyers and middlemen. Rockstar’s litigation strategy turned out to be inconclusive, keeping many lawyers very busy but with little money changing hands to date.

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Dubai: A Smart City of Rapid Technology Transformations

During my recent trip in Dubai, I had the pleasure of experiencing both the personal and climactic warmth of this extremely modern smart city. Known for building the world’s tallest structure, the Burj Khalifa, Dubai also has emerged as a global business, financial and transportation hub in the Persian Gulf leveraging advanced networked technologies. The pace of accelerated transformation here never ceases to amaze me.

Dubai and the country of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) continue to set ambitious goals and then achieve them. Dubai has among the most efficient and busiest airports, longest metro transit systems, advanced road-tolls and highly digitized, smart government services underpinned by advanced broadband and mobile networks.

After meeting with local government and business leaders, I am not surprised about these rapid achievements. Public and private sector leaders here exude energy, enthusiasm and hospitality – and they know how to be decisive with timelines!

I am very excited that while here we were able to confirm with local officials the dates and venue for next year’s Internet of Things World Forum (IoTWF) in Dubai. We will be announcing that information soon. Bringing together IoT and Internet of Everything (IoE) industry leaders IoTWF is the ideal setting for thought leadership around the most significant advance in the history of technology – the connection of people, processes, data and things.

Business, government and other thought leaders I talked with in Dubai all recognized the value that can be captured from connecting the unconnected. Cisco Consulting Services calculates that the UAE can realize $53 billion of economic value over the next decade, and Dubai about $5 billion in the next five years by leveraging IoE-based solutions that digitize everything from buildings and transportation to energy and outdoor lighting.

We are very excited to be joining Dubai and the UAE on this journey of rapid growth and transformation.

This recent trip also extended into Saudi Arabia where leaders also are embracing the Inernet of Everything. For more, please click here.

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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Smart Connections

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), the largest economy in the Middle East, is universally recognized as the world’s largest producer and exporter of petroleum. In recent years, however, it has emerged as a visionary leader in leveraging networked technology, especially in developing a number of Smart City projects to attract business while controlling sprawl and congestion.

Cisco Consulting Services estimates that KSA alone can gain about $84 billion of total economic value from the Internet of Everything, which is the connection of people, processes, data and things. Nearly $16 billion of this is in the public sector, with profitability, cost savings and enhanced experiences coming from urban services such as smart street lighting, smart traffic management, mobile collaboration, chronic disease control, connected learning and healthcare, to name a few.

Globally, Cisco sees a total $19 trillion opportunity for both the public and private sectors. 

Last week, I revisited Saudi Arabia for the 16th time in five years and saw first-hand its progress in developing Smart Cities, or what we at Cisco call, Smart + Connected Communities. I had the honor of participating in the Cityquest KAEC Forum, jointly organized by the King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) and New Cities Foundation, which assembled global thought leaders in some of the most advanced Smart City projects.

I had the pleasure of participating in an enthusiastic panel discussion on local and global urban innovations made possible by “Connecting Through Technology,” moderated by Andrew Sewer, journalist and former managing editor of Fortune Magazine.

As reported in The Arab News, Abdullatif A. Al-Othman, governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), kicked off the conference by emphasizing that public sector investments to diversify the economy are “… the most promising and significant in terms of job creation, technology transfer and exports development,” pointing to KAEC as a prime example.

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