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Becoming a Woman of Impact

Be Fearless! That was the theme of an incredible Women of Impact event last week, and like most of the 4,850 people joining from about 80 sites around the world, I came away inspired and energized by all I heard and learned during the day.  We came together as women (and men) that wanted to learn, connect and share ideas on how we could personally make a bigger impact.  I know I took home many new ideas and many new friendships.

I’m very proud and extremely fortunate to be the EMEAR executive sponsor of Connected Women.  The Women of Impact day is one of our key events – designed to provide ideas and insights, help women connect, and encourage them—no, all of us—to reach for more.  It’s a powerful reminder of the power of diversity in our business.

So, what does it mean to be fearless?

First of all, it’s about going beyond fear.  It’s about recognizing fear when it crops up (and believe me, it will), and then having the courage to set it aside and to move forward, whatever the obstacles.  Effective leadership often means stepping into the unknown, disregarding fear and focusing on how you can make an impact.

To go beyond fear is to Be Bold! This goes beyond being fearless – it’s proactive! As Shari Slate, Cisco’s head of Inclusion & Diversity, said ‘Make it happen! Dream big, be bold, be outrageously collaborative, be unstoppable!’.  Think outside the box and don’t be afraid to take risks. Even if it scares you and you haven’t got it all figured out, sometimes you just have make a start and work it out as you go along.  Bold moves demand imagination and determination and I think women have a little bit of an advantage when it comes to those qualities … but then I’m not entirely objective here, as I’m a woman.

Being fearless is also about being your best authentic self. As Biba Binotti, the founder of Red Hat People, said ‘don’t let the ‘gremlins’ of self-doubt get in the way’.  Learn from others – there are always ways to do things better – but don’t try to emulate someone else in order to achieve their success. It doesn’t work that way.  After all, we’re all different – a different mix of skills and life experiences.  So don’t be afraid to be you. Do things that fit with your core values and your essential personality. Be yourself and believe in yourself.  There is a CEO in every single one of us. We can all be a leader if we own being the best at what we do.

To be fearless also means to step outside your comfort zone and to embrace change. It’s good to have a plan, but in our fast-evolving world, it’s also imperative to stay agile. Just look at the market transitions we are in and how we’re changing as a business to make the most of them. Many of our presenters – all people of impact – spoke about how they had adapted to change and made the most of the opportunities it brought. We each build up transferable skills that can be applied to new roles and sometimes even tactical sideways or downwards moves can deliver greater rewards.

Each one of the presenters—men and women—‘walked the talk’ and have been fearless in their journeys.  Each one of them showed that we can all be women of impact and leaders of change.

I know the results of that change and that impact will propel Cisco forward at an even greater pace.

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The Center for Digital Business Transformation: Helping Our Customers Thrive in a Digital World

Powerful technology trends including, social, mobile, cloud, and Big Data are converging, creating unprecedented “digital disruption.” We are in a unique period of time where business and technology leaders have the opportunity to create new value and win market share by leveraging the advantages of a hyper-connected world.

Agile competitors with better business models seemingly emerge overnight. Ingrained ways of thinking and working make changing to an innovative culture painfully slow. Needed talent and resources lie outside the four walls of the organization in a wider ecosystem of capabilities. And while technology challenges abound as we confront the future, people and process changes are even more vexing for most organizations.

So how do executives keep their companies from being added to the growing heap of once venerable brands that didn’t transform fast enough?

It’s not easy.

According to Gartner research, by 2020, 75 percent of companies will be a digital business or will be preparing to become one, yet only 30 percent of these efforts will be successful. The number one reason companies fail to transform is because they don’t re-imagine and reinvent the business from top to bottom before they begin.

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Entrepreneurs: Your Invitation to Innovate with Cisco in Europe – Second Season Application Now Open

It was only last November that I wrote about our first Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence (Cisco EIR) cohort in Europe. I knew then we had started something special – an incubation model that allows Cisco to tap into the immense talent of the European startup community and helps address many of the unique challenges entrepreneurs face in the region. Only a few months into our first European season, our startups have gained significant traction inside Cisco – and are demonstrating potential for strategic relationships and differentiation with us.

With this success in mind, I am pleased to announce we are now accepting applications from startups located in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Russia (EMEAR) to join our second season cohort in the region. We have partnered with Pioneers once again and are looking forward to announcing the winners on stage at the Pioneers Festival in Vienna in May. Find out more and apply here.

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Governments Need Global Standards of Conduct for Surveillance

Privacy and human rights advocates, technology companies, and trade associations have today called on U.S. political leaders to reform the country’s surveillance laws. We add our voice to those calls. These reforms will help show the world that the U.S. Government is ready to lead the dialogue on global standards of conduct, and wants to further build international trust with citizens – a cornerstone for our industry.

We also see a need for governments to agree on transparent standards of conduct. Building a system with appropriate safeguards and limits will serve both national security objectives and the needs of global commerce. In May 2014, Cisco offered a series of recommendations that support customer confidence in the global internet economy, while respecting the role that governments need to play in ensuring the physical safety and the economic security of their citizens. Governments and industry players need to deliver these outcomes for our future. Cisco is ready to play our part and we believe our peers and colleagues in industry and government are as well.

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As Cisco Intercloud Turns One, Two of its Architects Reflect On How The Strategy Was Born

A Q&A with Cisco President Rob Lloyd and Cloud Senior Vice President Nick Earle

Rob Lloyd Nick Earle Cisco

 

 

 

 

 

One year ago this week, Cisco announced a plan and a billion dollar investment to build the world’s largest Intercloud – a globally connected network of clouds from Cisco and our partners. As we arrive at the one-year anniversary, I took a few minutes to chat with Cisco President Rob Lloyd and Cloud SVP Nick Earle – two of the ‘architects of the Intercloud’ – about how the idea came about, and what they have learned in the year since the vision was unveiled.

David McCulloch: Can you take us back to early 2014 and remind us why Cisco needed to evolve its cloud strategy?

Rob Lloyd: In late 2013, even as sales of Cisco’s SaaS and cloud enabling technologies continued to rise, we started to see demand for a new cloud model: a hybrid cloud model that took into account our customers’ current IT investments and augmented those with a choice of cloud providers, and access to local and national cloud options to more easily comply with data privacy and industry regulations. We realized that if we could deliver all of that with one holistic hybrid cloud strategy that gave customers a high degree of control over security, policy and application performance, we had a huge opportunity on our hands.

DM:  Enter Cisco Intercloud! How did the idea come about?

Rob: A few weeks before Cisco’s annual executive leadership team meeting, Nick Earle, Edzard Overbeek (head of Cisco Services), Jim Sherriff (chief of staff) and I met to brainstorm what it would take to deliver the hybrid cloud strategy our customers wanted.  We knew we had some valuable assets already: Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) was capable of enabling consistent security and policy across clouds. Intercloud Fabric enabled portability of workloads between clouds. And our Integrated Architecture offers in the Data Center were already market leading.  But we realized we could go further still if we fully embraced our extensive global ecosystem of partners. If we could combine Cisco’s strengths together with those of our partners, and move quickly, we knew we could disrupt current cloud models and become the market leader in hybrid cloud solutions.

DM: Whiteboard, notebooks or napkin?

Nick Earle: White board! The four of us began drawing the current partner/technology/services ecosystem on a whiteboard in the ‘Bat Cave’, a meeting room that is full of mementos Rob has collected on his business travels. The first sketch centered on applications running in Cisco data centers with remote access provided to our partners and customers, but that posed serious scalability challenges. We realized no company – not even Cisco – could deliver the global reach and local scale our customers were asking for to meet the massive challenges and opportunities presented by the Internet of Everything.

DM: So what was plan B?

Nick: We restarted the design from scratch, this time taking ourselves temporarily out of the picture and drawing everything from the perspective of the customer. We asked: what would it take to deliver the seamless hybrid cloud experience they wanted – irrespective of vendor or cloud provider? This was the key breakthrough. We redrew the global cloud network diagram with a green dot inside each element in the ecosystem – the green dot representing a technology capability that was at once secure and open – that would enable cloud federation.  A pattern of green dots began to emerge and the lights went on – this was it! We had no name for the idea at the time so we began referring to it as the ‘Green Dot Strategy’.

The original 'Green Dot Strategy' sketch on the 'Bat Cave' whiteboard

The original ‘Green Dot Strategy’ sketch on the ‘Bat Cave’ whiteboard

DM: So how did the ‘Green Dot Strategy’ become the Cisco Intercloud strategy?

Rob: We wanted to make this strategy real for our customers as quickly as possible. So we compiled an inventory of all the capabilities we would need to pull it off: Secure hypervisor agnostic distribution of applications? Intercloud Fabric. Check! Application policy extensibility into other clouds? ACI. Check. Real time data analytics to billions of new devices and data at the edge of the network? Cisco Data Virtualization. Check!  An extensive partner ecosystem that could put data centers in every country to provide global data sovereignty and provide a huge go to market advantage? Check again. We realized we had a winning strategy on our hands and we needed to move quickly to launch the strategy – at ‘Dev Ops’ speed.

DM: And we did move quickly. Cisco unveiled its Intercloud strategy fifty-six days later at our Partner Summit in Las Vegas. But that was really just the beginning, wasn’t it?

Rob:  It all began with Telstra, our first Intercloud alliance partner, but once our ecosystem of partners had a chance to digest the concept, the feedback and uptake was off the charts! Now, one year after the unveiling, we’ve filled in a lot of the ‘green dots’ that we sketched on that whiteboard. We have amassed 60 Intercloud alliance, ecosystem and cloud provider partners with a footprint of 400 data centers across 50 countries, and the momentum continues.

Last week, I announced new Intercloud services together with DT at CeBit in Germany. This week I reviewed the revenues being generated by SunGard Availability Services that leverage their domain expertise in cloud recovery services, SAP and public cloud, and witnessed the faster time-to-market enabled by Intercloud.

When I see those advances, it’s clear to me that we have a created a big idea with the potential to truly be a game changer.  Consider this: within nine months we’ll have a service availability capability that matches what the best known player in this category has taken nine years to build.

DM: What’s next?

Nick: Ha! You ain’t seen nothing yet!  We’re really still at phase one of our strategy. In time, we’ll add hundreds of cloud service providers with thousands of services into the mix. That will arm our customers and crucially our partners with the industry’s best cloud service portfolio. The next phases are all about scaling out the availability of those services globally with alliance partners like Telstra, Deutsche Telekom, and others to be announced. Ultimately, we plan to create the world’s most compelling global cloud service exchange for business, where orchestration and management of services on Cisco and non-Cisco environments comes with world-class security, visibility, control and analytics. You can expect to hear more about that this summer!

How did your big idea come about? We’re curious to hear your innovation story! Post #innovativeideas.

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