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The Channel Company Presents Annual Best of Breed Event in Orlando

I’m back! Back on the Cisco Partner Blog for the first time in a fe#BoB15 Orlandow months, and back in Florida for the first time in a few years. I spent the early part of this week in Orlando at the Best of Breed event. As the weather has shifted to distinctly more “fall-like” back in North Carolina, it was nice to head south for a few days and enjoy a few last gasps of summer.

More importantly, it has been an opportunity to meet numerous influential executives from within the industry. There were many Cisco Partners here at the event and to have the opportunity to speak with them about working with Cisco is always valued. In addition, it’s always interesting to hear their takes on the speakers and information coming out of the event, as the partners are truly the guys on the front line with customers every single day.

CRYou might have seen, from the ongoing coverage of Best of Breed, that our new CEO, Chuck Robbins, was here to deliver the keynote, which was done in an interview style with the CEO of The Channel Company.

Chuck fielded questions about the recent Dell-EMC deal, the Cisco partnership with Apple, and his basketball playing days. Be sure to check out the interview with Chuck and subsequent stories from CRN, including what he forecasts about Apple’s relationship with the channel.

I had several partners tell me this week how happy they were to see Chuck at the event and how it showed them consistent, ongoing commitment to the channel from Cisco. That is great feedback and we are indeed committed to our partners at Cisco. We do understand how important the channel is to our business.

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The Future of Smart Cities

In the future, all cities will be smart cities. With more than one-half of the world’s population living in cities innovative new IoT solutions, such as smart parking, connected waste, and traffic management, hold great promise for combatting the major challenges of rapid urbanization. We are unlikely to see many Jetson-like smart cities of the future appearing overnight. However, like in the past with the adoption of revolutionary technologies such as sewers, electricity, traffic lights, and the Internet, mayors will slowly implement IoT solutions to save money, shape the future and make their cities better places to live.

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The Internet of Things offers cities the unique opportunity to generate new revenue, save costs, improve efficiencies and increase the overall value and experience for its citizens. Solutions like smart lighting can greatly reduce a city’s expenditure on electricity and operations, while at the same time improving the safety and security of the inhabitants. Smart parking not only allows people to spend less time in their car searching for an open parking spot, it actually creates new sources of revenue for the city. Parking can now be priced on a variable, demand-driven basis, rather than a fix fee irrespective of the time of day. Such pricing flexibility allows rush-hour spots to generate much higher revenues than those available on a Sunday morning. Security cameras and traffic management solutions not only make citizens safer and save them time, but they allow police and emergency forces to be much more efficient and responsive to potential incidents.

All of these exciting and innovative solutions will truly deliver real value to the city and its inhabitants. I think that the next big source of innovation will be Read More »

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Advancing Diversity with ‘The Power of One’

Last week, many of the nation’s top African-American leaders and emerging talent experienced first-hand “The Power of One” – the power of one person, one organization or one partnership to transform the world.Chuck's ELC Twitter Photo

The occasion was the Executive Leadership Council’s (ELC) annual celebration of individuals and corporations making a difference to advance inclusion and diversity in business. Honorees such as Merck Chairman & CEO Ken Frazer, Caterpillar Corporation, and Former US Attorney General Eric Holder, embodied the Gala’s theme for their impressive achievements.

Cisco and ELC provided leadership workshops for aspiring mid-level managers prior to the Gala, creating so many transformative and magical “Moments that Matter” . . . Chuck Robbins and other industry CEOs sharing experiences with managers who learned how to take charge of their careers . . . a collective realization of what’s possible through inclusion, diversity and collaboration. Awe inspiring!

Jumpstarting the Career Journey with Belviane

In attendance was a bright, driven young woman from Laurel High School near Baltimore. Meet Belviane Songong, 17, who exemplifies how “The Power of One” can jumpstart the journey from the classroom, perhaps one day leading her all the way to the C-Suite.

The high school senior aspires to be a biomedical engineer, and she realized early that she needs strong technical skills now to be competitive for college and her career later on. So she enrolled in the Cisco Networking Academy class at Laurel High, attaining one of the Academy’s top scores by a high school student on their exam, which helped attract scholarship offers from major colleges.

“I may just be one student but I know I am making a difference, and when I think of the power of millions of others just like me all across the world, studying, learning and helping others, now that really is a dream come true,” Belviane says in the video about her experience with the Cisco Networking Academy.

At the Gala, Chuck told the audience of 2,500: “Belviane has the skills, passion and commitment to create a tremendous amount of value for any organization today. She is a great example of how important it is to build our talent pipeline early on.”

Belviane may be one in a million, but the Cisco Networking Academy has helped more than 5.5 million people at 9,000 academies across 180 countries since it started in 1997. Today, 92% of our graduates report that what they learned through the program led to a new job, a better job or promotion, more responsibilities, higher salary, deciding on a program of study, or pursuing more education.

Next Steps in the Talent Pipeline

As Chuck said, this is just the beginning of the journey. It takes more “Power of One” partnerships with organizations like the ELC to help fuel the talent pipeline, preparing more underrepresented minorities to reach the C-Suite. Consider that 29% of Cisco’s African-American mid-level managers who took ELC’s leadership program were promoted in the last year – twice the company average.

Cisco had a huge presence at the Gala with 120 of Cisco’s highest-performing managers who had just completed ELC’s leadership course. They were joined by members of our highly diverse Executive Leadership Team and other Cisco executives. When Chuck asked everyone from Cisco to stand, it was a proud Moment that Mattered.

Milestone Moments

Ehrika Gladden_compressed

Ehrika Gladden

The experience inspired many other milestone moments. Ehrika Gladden fought to hold on to her emotions when Chuck and Fran surprised her in front of the Cisco group with the announcement of her promotion from senior director to a Vice President position. “Prior to last week, I was positive I knew what The People Deal meant for me and other Cisco employees.  What Chuck, Fran Katsoudas, Jeff Reed, Shari Slate, Cassandra Frangos and a host of other Cisco leaders did last week was help me to actually live the recognition and engagement experience of leaders delivering on the promise The People Deal creates for employees.  It is a model l will do my best to emulate.”

Shannon Cobb

Shannon Cobbs

Ike Harris

Ike Harris

“The event helped me to be recognized while I learned a lot of new tools to help me in my career and inspire me with what’s possible,” said Shannon Cobbs, Engineer, PDI Technical Advisors Network. The “hugely impactful” event clearly “made a difference” in employee engagement, added Ike Harris, Cisco’s VP of Global Planning and Fulfillment. The combination of workshops, exchanges between executives and managers as well as Cisco’s emphatic commitment to inclusion leads to “greater engagement and retention.


Jason Gallo

Jason Gallo

Jason W. Gallo, Global Director of Channel Sales for Collaboration & Software, felt a personal connection with Chuck when he shared what a huge leap it was back when he was promoted to Director.  Gallo also stated that, as a leader who is currently expanding his team, the ELC-Cisco experience reinforced to him the impact of “having access to a diversity of ideas and relationships that build a stronger pipeline of talent for Cisco.”


Shawn Dawson Troutt

Shawn Dawson Troutt

For Shawn Dawson Troutt, Director, Services & Cloud, Legal, the ELC-Cisco experience provides an “opportunity to pause, focus on being intentional about your career and have access to amazing individuals at Cisco and industry leaders.  There aren’t a lot of African-Americans at Cisco and we don’t find ourselves in the same room together very much.  It’s a real benefit to be together and meet with executives, with the joint purpose of improving our effectiveness as a company.”

I too am one of the beneficiaries of our partnership with ELC and its leadership growth programs. They have contributed mightily to developing and advancing diverse leaders both at Cisco and industry wide.

Through powerful partnerships like we have with ELC, we have made progress with inclusion and diversity at Cisco, but much more is still needed. True transformation will evolve with the “Power of One” – the power of one person, one organization or one partnership to transform the world, or one person at a time like Belviane and each of our high-performance managers.

Just imagine the possibilities if a million Belvianes started their journeys like hers and continued to get partner support like our mid-level managers along the way.



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In the Digital Vortex, It’s All About the Value, Not the Value Chain

Five years ago, the taxi industry seemed about as immune to digital disruption as any industry could be. Taxis, after all, were purely analog contraptions, far removed from digital innovation, software, apps, and the like. What’s more, their business model seemed as foolproof as the day it was created in the early 1900s: drivers prowled the streets until they spotted customers hailing a ride, drove them to their destination, and collected the fare.

Right? Well, wrong, actually. Enter Uber, and the taxi industry will never be the same.

Uber is a great example of what our recent Digital Vortex thought leadership called combinatorial disruption. In today’s climate of constant digital disruption, technologies and business models collide, combine, and recombine in startling ways. As the Digital Vortex sweeps everything of value to the center, non-digital processes fall away, to be replaced by more efficient value drivers.

In this model, the creation of new value is everything; the old value chain, meanwhile, is redefined to the point of being unrecognizable or obsolete with unnerving (for an industry incumbent) speed. Read More »

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Cisco at the 2015 SCTE Cable-Tec Expo

It’s Expo Eve down here in New Orleans, where the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center will soon fill with the technology people of the cable and broadband industry. Us included!

Children in a museum

We’ve been planning for months for this year’s SCTE Cable-Tec Expo, and are appreciably stocked (I hope!) with all of the elements that multichannel video providers (MVPDs) need to satiate their capacity needs — and contribute to the industry’s overall industrial momentum.

If you’re not going, or not familiar with the cable/broadband industry’s biggest and most hard-core tech event — the short hand is that it’s all about Read More »

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