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Our Unique Focus on Making the World a Better Place

In a world of constant change, one thing that has remained consistent over my past 18 years at Cisco is that customers and government leaders truly believe in the transformative power of technology. As technology moves increasingly to the forefront of our daily lives, we know the power it has in driving economic progress, helping people thrive in the digital economy, and addressing critical issues facing our society such as climate change. What is good for the world and good for business are more closely connected than ever before.

I have always believed that Corporate Social Responsibility has to be woven into everything that a company does. At Cisco, our passion for making a difference around the world and improving lives is deeply engrained in our culture, our strategy, how we deliver value to our customers, and in how we attract top talent.

This is true now more than ever. With the recent events that have unfolded in Paris, Lebanon and Egypt, and in other parts of the world, Cisco is deeply committed to helping others and the communities we are a part of. It is simply who we are.

Our 11th Corporate Social Responsibility report highlights many ways that we’ve made an impact around the world. As an example, over the last 18 years, our Cisco Networking Academy program has helped more than 5.5 million students at 9500 learning institutions in 170 countries. With the skills they are developing, these students are helping to shape and build the digital economy.

Earlier this year, we announced Connected Caring, a unique partnership with singer-songwriter Keith Urban and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Children suffering from cancer and other life-threatening illnesses who are being treated at St. Jude now have the opportunity to meet with Keith using Cisco’s video collaboration technologies. With this initiative, we’ve given children at St. Jude the opportunity to take their minds off their illness for just a little while as they share messages of hope while also having some fun.

Watch this video to learn more about the partnership.

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Protecting Innovation – Moving Forward

With the second International Trade Commission (ITC) trial regarding Arista’s use of Cisco’s proprietary networking technology patents almost complete, now is a good time to provide an update.

As you will recall, Cisco filed copyright and patent infringement cases against Arista last December in the District Court in Northern California. One case, focused on 12 technology patents, remains “stayed” while the ITC trials involving the same patents are ongoing. The other District Court case, regarding Arista’s literal copying of Cisco’s command line interface (CLI) and two related patents, is moving forward. None of the patents in these cases cover technology that has been adopted as a standard. And all the patents were invented by people who worked at Cisco and then went to Arista, or by Cisco employees whose managers went to Arista.

Arista makes no secret out of its willful, intentional and on going use of Cisco’s proprietary networking technology. That’s why this litigation is necessary. For instance, why does Arista use over 500+ of Cisco’s multi-word CLI commands, when competitors like Alcatel Lucent, Brocade, HP and Juniper have only a fraction of that overlap in their own products?

To appreciate the brazenness of Arista’s behavior in this regard, and why the litigation is necessary, let’s listen to Arista’s own words. Here’s Ken Duda, Arista’s Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, and a former senior engineer at Cisco, in a public domain interview talking about Arista “slavishly” copying Cisco’s CLI.

Here’s where each case stands:

District Court Case (CLI and related patents)

This case, before Judge Beth Labson Freeman, is slated for trial in August 2016. Recently Arista moved to delay the start of the trial to 2017. The Judge held a conference on that issue, and will rule after briefing the question.

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Insights to Interactions: Defining New Connected User Experiences

This summer’s announced development alliance between Apple and Cisco reminded me of a quote from Tim Cook, Apple CEO, that I once read, “Most business models have focused on self-interest instead of user experience.” Needless to say, Apple has built one of the most successful brands in history by focusing on consistently delivering an exceptional user experience, whether interacting with its product family or its various service offerings.  Apple has raised the bar for what both consumers and business professionals have come to expect from technology.

In earlier blogs, I discussed the importance of connected processes and connected analytics in the transition toward companies becoming digital businesses. The final piece in digital transformation is connected experiences.  Ultimately business outcomes from operational improvements are driven by new interactions and experiences. Both the process and analytics requirements need to be informed by the shoppers, service consumers, business professional,  citizens and so on – all participants among who and what  is being connected — and how they are connected.  User requirements define how people can transparently access hyper-distributed centers of data, whether via smartphones, tablets, laptops, or specialized devices. But it is not just about simply having access to the data. Most importantly, it is about delivering timely insights so that users can make informed decisions.  Put simply, it is about delivering personal and/or professionally relevant information that an individual needs, when and where they need it, and in the best way for them to understand or apply it.

Peter Sondergaard, Senior Vice-President and Global Head of Research at Gartner, summed it up this way at the firm’s recent ITxPO event, “In five years, 1 million new devices will come online every hour. These interconnections are creating billions of new relationships. These relationships are not driven solely by data, but algorithms. Data is inherently dumb. It doesn’t actually do anything unless you know how to use it, how to act with it.” I believe it is incumbent upon us to guide customers to discern the value of collected data, extract meaningful information from it, and analyze and use the data to offer new capabilities, richer interactions, and unprecedented opportunities for businesses, individuals, municipalities and more.

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Partnering to Accelerate Innovation, Growth, and Customer Value

At Cisco, we have long believed in the power of relationships. Recently, I’ve laid out how we plan to be the most strategic technology partner to our customers, and while we are very focused on the opportunities ahead, it’s clear that no one company can deliver the full breadth of technology solutions that customers need at the pace the market requires. Building next-generation strategic partnerships will be as important in driving customer value and future growth as M&A has been over the last decade.

In the last few months, we’ve announced a series of strategic partnerships that unite Cisco’s portfolio, market leadership and scale with market leaders that bring complementary solutions. With Apple, we are delivering the future of mobile work, and with Inspur, we’re building the infrastructure and solutions to power cloud, data center, smart cities, and big data for one of the largest economies in the world.

Today we are announcing a new global, business and technology relationship with Ericsson. With this partnership, we’re bringing together two networking powerhouses, with a clear plan to leverage one another’s strengths and complementary portfolios to drive growth and innovation. As I look at Ericsson’s strong mobility portfolio, network management track record, and incredible global services scale and capability, I believe there is no question that we can add tremendous value to our customers together.

We’ve taken the past year to clearly solidify how we will bring together our companies and our portfolios, and we’re prepared to move with speed. In Ericsson, we’ve found a company that shares our vision for what will be possible in the digital world, and like us, they recognize the central role the network will play in meeting the goals of business and societies. We also share robust cultures of innovation, and a strong focus on the customer. It is these shared principles that will drive the success of our partnership.

I recently had the opportunity to have a conversation with Ericsson’s CEO Hans Vestberg, and I encourage you to listen in.

This partnership is yet another decisive move we are making to invest in Cisco’s market leadership for the next decade. Together, Cisco and Ericsson will create the networks of the future, and I couldn’t be more excited about collaborating to capture the opportunities ahead.

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Reflections on the Fortune Global Forum: How businesses will win in the midst of the biggest revolution of high tech

I had the great privilege of attending and speaking at Fortune Global Forum this week, which gathers business leaders to discuss the most pressing challenges we face and to set the global business agenda. The theme of this year’s conference was “winning in the disruptive century” and focused on how businesses must operate in order to stay competitive in this environment. One common concept fueling discussions around the disruptive market we’re navigating was connectivity. CEOs across industries – manufacturing, technology, healthcare, finance and so on – are recognizing the need to not only digitize, but to reinvent themselves to stay ahead. As I reflect on the conversations I had at the Fortune Global Forum, here are some of the points that really resonated with me:

Businesses are poised to lead on digitization if we make it our priority.

Current forecasts around the number of connected devices are too conservative. By 2030, I believe that there will be closer to 500 billion connected devices. With digitization every aspect of day to day business will change, from supply chain to customer interface to productivity, every company will become digital. However, according to The Global Center for Digital Business Transformation, only 25 percent of executives have a proactive plan to address digitization. Leaders at Fortune Global Forum agreed that value is created by not just connecting things, but by how you use these new connections to make an impact on not only business, but also on governments and society.

I’ve met with government leaders in France, Israel, UK, Germany and India who not only understand the impact of digitization, but they’re moving quickly to bring it to life for their countries. I think we have something to learn from these leaders. First, that digitization should be a priority on our national agenda here in the U.S., as technology strategy will play a critical role in our success as a country in the digital world. Second, that digitization should also be at the top of the corporate agenda. If governments are moving on digitization with this type if tremendous speed, our businesses have to move even faster and be even more dynamic to realize the full potential of this opportunity.

Your company is defined by much more than just your core products.

Most companies today make 90 percent of their revenue from two or three products that have been in their portfolio for some time. To stay competitive in today’s disruptive environment, you can’t stay doing the same thing for too long. Business leaders must have the courage to expand into new emerging areas ahead of market transitions. This takes courage!

An overwhelming majority of leaders at the Fortune Global Forum noted that this challenge keeps them up at night, and that it’s made even more pressing by the increasing number of connected devices that are coming online. For instance, with the rise of mobile, my fellow panelist BT CEO Gavin Patterson saw an opportunity to make a foray into a new market and had the courage to expand his business beyond voice. This was just one of countless examples of how BT reinvented itself over its hundred-year history. This theme of reinvention rang true for others too, including Wells Fargo. To be successful in the digital world, leaders must find new profit streams and tie everything back to customers’ expectations.

Your competition today may not be your competition tomorrow.

Forty percent of market leaders will be displaced or eliminated by digital disruptors in the next 10 years. In my opinion the average time to disruption (meaning a “substantial change” in market share among incumbents) is now about 3 years, a dramatic escalation in the rate of competitive change versus historical levels. These disruptors offer differentiated products and services and better value than incumbents. This creates a hyper-competitive landscape driven by digital disruption, where lines between industries are blurring and markets are changing exponentially.

Companies that fail to keep up with the accelerating pace of innovation in this environment will be left behind as new competitors grab hold of market share. We saw this type of disruption occur with cloud and mobile, for instance, and we must always be thinking about the next transition. It’s important to remember that the disruptors of today look much different than they have in the past. If we don’t pay attention to this next generation of competition, we risk being left behind entirely.

The Fortune Global Forum agenda has made it clear: business leaders recognize the tremendous sense of urgency around our digital future. We are in the midst of one of the most revolutionary changes in technology we have ever seen which will have 5 to 10 times the impact of the Internet to date and will impact all industries – manufacturing, telecommunications, financial services, healthcare, and others. To win in this new age, businesses must make digitization a top priority.

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