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What are you putting on your Network for the holidays?

Before Oprah Winfrey became the poster child for Amazon’s Kindle, there was just one voice we trusted to tell us which gadgets to buy: The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg.Fortunately, Oprah’s newfound love of gadgets hasn’t put Walt out of business and he and some tech-loving friends came to Silicon Valley last night to take us on an entertaining romp through the gadgets every self-respecting valley executive will be snapping up this holiday season.Naturally, we at Cisco (Cisco sponsors the Churchill Club) were looking out for fabulous networked stuff and we weren’t disappointed. Here’s our short list of favorite networked gadgets you just won’t be able to live without this holiday season!6. Can’t get enough network access? Then in-car Wi-Fi is here for you! Apparently, Chrysler is about to start offering the service in new vehicles!5. Love that place in the suburbs, but hate the cell phone reception? No problem…build your own cell tower! It’ll only cost you about $99.00 for the privilege of helping all your neighbors get a signal too! Check out the Airave Femtocell from Sprint.4. Is getting directions from a GPS device not quite enough for you? How about this new gadget from Garmin. Apparently, it tells you when you’re breaking the speed limit too! 3. The network’s all around you. You can work from anywhere, effortlessly. Great, isn’t it? Well yes, until three of you need to gather around a mobile phone to do a conference call from client’s conference room. Well, how about a mobile speaker phone to get you wired for sound.2. Got your boarding pass online, but forgot to print it off before you got to the gate? No problem! Open up the Web page on your phone and print to your Pentax pocket printer. Now that’s mobility!1. Animatronic, singing, lip-curling latex Elvis. Okay, so he’s not networked, but come on! A singing, robot Elvis! What more do you want? If your gadget appetite hasn’t quite been fulfilled by Elvis and our short-list, you can get a bigger fix of last night’s stuff from Kara Swisher at the All Things Digital blog

Cisco Partners Share Top Three Talent Challenges

We’ve all read that some companies are shedding jobs rather than creating them right now, but Cisco Partners have told us repeatedly that attracting, developing and retaining talent remains a top priority for them. As far back as 2006, partners were starting to tell us that talent management was shifting from being an expense of doing business to a strategic business driver.At our annual gathering of partners, Partner Summit, in April, the theme came up again as our channel partner talent survey revealed that 48 percent of partners were finding the hiring of technical talent and 34 percent the hiring of sales talent ‘difficult’. At the time, Celia Harper-Guerra, senior director, partner talent acquisition program at Cisco, presented a holistic Cisco partner talent strategy aimed at helping partners address those challenges, including the launch of the Cisco Partner Talent Network.Six months on, at last week’s Cisco Channel Exchange in Lisbon, Portugal, we caught up with Celia again and asked her how the talent needs of partners have evolved since April, and specifically whether talent recruitment and retention remains a priority in the current economic environment. The results of Celia’s updated research were surprising, as this video interview shows.

Tour of Cisco’s new on-site LifeConnections Health Center

I recently caught up with Dr. Pam Hymel, senior director of corporate medical programs, who took me on a tour of Cisco’s new on-site health center in San Jose. Cisco employees and their dependents will be able to get a breadth of medical services on-campus, ranging from primary care and physical exams to immunizations, lab work, health coaching, acupuncture, chiropractic care and physical therapy. They will also have access to an on-site pharmacy.Employees are able to use the health center on an as-needed basis or for primary care, while still continuing the relationships they have with their private physicians. The facility is a part of the new LifeConnections Center, which also offers a child care center for 400 children, as well as a state-of-the art fitness center. The child care center, gym and pharmacy are currently open. The health center will officially open on Monday, Nov. 24. More information on the center can be found here. Currently, employees are able to book appointments.

Cisco Recognized by “The Deal” as Top Corporate Dealmaker

Congratulations to us (!!!) for being selected by The Deal late last week as one of only three winners of its inaugural Most Admired Corporate Dealmakers Awards. The Deal said winners were chosen by readers and “based upon their excellence in conceiving and executing transactions worldwide.” Watch Ned Hooper, SVP of Corporate Development and Consumer, in this video below as he accepts the award on Cisco’s behalf and explains why Cisco has been successful in driving acquisitions.

Channel Exchange 2008 : Improving Partner Profitability through ‘Smart Services’

Last week we brought you news items and perspectives from our annual channel-centric PR and analyst event, Channel Exchange. The event brought together industry influencers from around the globe to hear from Cisco channel and business executives on a host of topics, including globalization, collaboration, small business, as well as Services. In the following video recorded at Channel Exchange, Nick Earle, senior vice president of Cisco Services, European Markets, discusses how smart services will drive the shift from reactive to proactive support, to help partners deliver business performance improvements to customers. Channel partners are capitalizing on the value of smart services in various ways to drive improved profitability and greater customer satisfaction. In the video below, James Hughes, senior service manager at CCT, an award winning Silver partner in Bristol, United Kingdom, and Nick Earle discuss how CCT uses Cisco Smart Care Service to improve customers’ network predictability and the value proposition for CCT in moving to a proactive service model.