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Celebrating STEM with a Piece of “Pi”

Tomorrow is Pi Day! We make this a fun day in our household, where we celebrate the mathematical constant of π—or 3.1415—on March 14. To celebrate, we will make (and eat!) pie and see who can recite the most digits of pi. This year math fanatics are thrilled because it falls on 3/14/15, which aligns to the first five digits of pi. This has created even greater interest in what already is a global phenomenon.

Beyond pie eating and making YouTube videos, Pi Day provides the perfect opportunity to talk about our need for Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. The gaps we have in highly trained and skilled workers for the next wave of the Internet—or the Internet of Everything—are real. According to research, by 2018 the U.S. will face a projected shortfall of 230,000 qualified advanced-degree STEM workers.

We must get children engaged in STEM earlier and cultivate that interest throughout their entire educational journey. The National Center for STEM Elementary Education notes that a third of students lose interest in science by the fourth grade, and by eighth grade, almost 50 percent have lost interest. By the time students reach high school, only 16 percent of American high school seniors are proficient in mathematics and interested in a STEM career.

To ensure we are ready for the new digital era, Cisco is participating in a number of programs to engage and educate students in STEM areas. One program, US2020, is dedicated to igniting movement of STEM mentorship across the United States. Cisco has pledged that by 2020, 20 percent of our workforce will volunteer in STEM mentoring. We also provide funding for innovative programs like the MIND Research Institute, which is fundamentally changing how math is being taught in underserved communities from coast to coast.

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IoE Can Help Banks Restore Trust and Close the Value Gap with Customers

“Let the buyer beware” is a sentiment that dates back well before consumer protection and truth-in-advertising laws. Yet, the issue of trust continues to permeate all areas of society today. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the “trust cliff” that affects the amount of information consumers are willing to share with retailers in order to have more relevant interactions.

Now, a new Cisco study on retail banking in 12 countries reveals a different kind of trust problem: consumers are getting less value than they expect from their banks, and this “value gap” is impacting customer trust.

The global financial crisis of 2007-2008 greatly damaged consumer trust in financial institutions, and brand equity has fallen along with it. In 2009, one year after the financial crisis, the world’s top 500 brands saw the value of their brands drop by 32 percent. For many banks, their brand value has yet to recover from pre-crisis levels.

But the roots of distrust go deeper than that. Our study shows that there is a fundamental disconnect between banks and their customers, and many customers no longer look to their banks to help them meet their financial goals. In fact:

  • 43 percent of customers say their bank doesn’t understand their needs
  • One in four would choose another provider for their next account or service
  • Only 40 percent of respondents worldwide turn to a financial professional for advice, and of these, 28 percent believe the advice is ineffective

IoE Trust and Value Gap graphic

Meanwhile, a growing cadre of disruptive “non-bank” innovators is exploiting this value gap between banks and their customers. They range from technology companies such as Apple and Google, to retailers such as Amazon.com and Tesco, to mobile and digital-only banking services, payment companies, and automated investment services. A surprising 80 percent of consumers surveyed said they would trust a non-bank for their banking services. In eight out of the 12 countries surveyed, more consumers would actually trust a non-bank than their own bank.

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Hybrid – The Next Wave of Cloud Innovation

Today more than ever, CIOs are tasked with creating technology strategies that fuel the business and help their organizations achieve positive business outcomes. At the same time, they must be mindful that the new technologies or services they use to achieve those outcomes minimize security risks and maximize choice and control. This careful due diligence can create an inaccurate impression that IT is slow to respond, often says “no,” or is out of touch with the fast pace of business. To avoid the strict regulations imposed by IT, many line-of-business leaders use cheap IT and cloud services available on public clouds without the CIO’s knowledge thus creating a situation known as ‘shadow cloud.’ The quick and easy use of public cloud services hosted on cheap infrastructure is an attractive and inexpensive option at first. However, the workloads put on public cloud services are not always secure or encrypted. Also, as that cloud usage increases exponentially over time, so does the cost which can easily drive up a company’s operating expenses.

The inexpensive, commodity infrastructure services driven by the public cloud players is the first wave of cloud innovation, and this is a very popular option for many companies today. However, the proprietary cloud model of larger public vendors like Amazon and Google operates on the belief that companies will only need one vendor for their cloud services.

We believe the next wave of cloud innovation will come in the form of open, secure connectivity that drives a globally connected network of clouds—a model which we call the Intercloud. The Intercloud is a hybrid cloud model based on a mix of private, public and partner clouds that offers flexibility, security and policy management to CIOs. Our definition of hybrid cloud doesn’t just mean connecting public clouds to private clouds. It also includes connecting to partner clouds as well. Since this model is open it also allows CIOs to move workloads between all these different clouds, versus locking them into using one single cloud environment as many public cloud companies do. With hybrid cloud models such as Cisco’s Intercloud, organizations can enjoy both the level of control offered by on-premise private cloud solutions and the freedom to choose public clouds for other workloads.

As CIOs begin to assess their own hybrid cloud strategy, they should factor in two key attributes: securing control, and maintaining flexibility and choice.

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Reflections on Mobile World Congress 2015: Transformation Through Innovation

As I reflected on a very memorable Mobile World Congress 2015 during the plane ride home from Barcelona a few days ago, it became clear that the transformation Cisco has been seeing in the telecommunications service provider industry is now a global movement.

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 9.47.11 AM

It’s not just happening in Europe, or Latin America, or Asia. It’s quite literally everywhere.

“Transformation through Innovation” was Cisco’s theme for this year’s Mobile World Congress, and at heart of our service provider strategy. It’s quite clear we’re onto something.

In countless conversations last week with leaders of forward-thinking global service providers in Barcelona, I heard two familiar themes over and over again –“Transformation and Innovation.” They’re all seeking to transform their architectures and businesses – and ultimately their customers’ experiences – to capture new opportunities in the Internet of Everything (IoE) era. In fact, the IoE – the networked connection of people, processes, data and things – is expected to create a $1.7 trillion market opportunity for service providers over the next decade.

With large networks that deliver mobile, video, collaboration, and other offerings to individual subscribers and businesses of all sizes, service providers are in an enviable position, sitting at the center of the IoE. They alone have the unique opportunity to take advantage of all kinds of new IoE connection types, and integrating them to deliver rich new applications, services and experiences.

What a truly exciting time to be in this industry!

That said, existing operational complexity can stifle service providers’ abilities to reduce costs and become more agile in bringing new capabilities to market. The reality is, today most new applications and services take months to roll out. If this pace does not rapidly accelerate, the entire industry will be left behind.

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Cisco Joins North Carolina Governor in Helping Our Military Heroes Find Jobs

According to North Carolina Governor McCrory, 27,000 military service members in his state will leave the armed forces in 2015 alone, representing a massive pool of highly-skilled talent. Military veterans have a strong work ethic, are accustomed to working under pressure, can make decisions smartly but swiftly, and are well organized.

But often the greatest challenge they have is translating those skills into something that we, in the civilian workforce, can understand and relate to our job requirements.

Cisco is working with the state of North Carolina to address this problem. Today, we joined Governor McCrory to announce the launch of the NC Military Pipeline, a sophisticated online platform that maps military occupation codes to civilian career paths and job openings. The Pipeline was developed by Durham, North Carolina-based Futures, Inc. with more than $2 million seed funding from Cisco.

The NC Military Pipeline will help veterans, transitioning service members, military spouses, reservists, and National Guardsmen find jobs through:

  • Job postings
  • Training and certification programs
  • Career assessment tools
  • Career path exploration
  • Communities of people with similar interests

Cisco will lead a coalition of IT companies — initially including CompTIA, NetApp, Citrix, LPI, NDG and Oracle – that will post their training programs and certification programs on the NC Military Pipeline.

We expect the Cisco Networking Academy program will play a major role in this initiative, offering training on Cisco equipment and preparation for Cisco certifications. Networking Academy courses are offered at 82 institutions across North Carolina, which have taught more than 53,000 students since 1997. One of them is Clint Abrams, a U.S. Army staff sergeant who now works as a Cisco technical support engineer:

Thanks to Larry Carter, former Cisco CFO and a current trustee of the Cisco Foundation board, for representing Cisco at the event today. We are all proud to support North Carolina and Governor McCrory in making North Carolina the showcase state for veterans’ employment. And we hope today is just the first step in creating a blueprint for all states with a major military presence to follow.

Learn more about how Cisco supports military veterans on our Corporate Social Responsibility website.