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The Future of Networking, Available Today

I am Soni Jiandani, SVP of Marketing for Cisco’s Insieme Business Unit. Together with a team of veteran leaders and engineers, we continue to disrupt markets to drive industry transformation. Our latest disruption is focused on leapfrogging Software Defined Networks (SDN) with a holistic approach to the future of networking: Application Centric Infrastructure, or ACI for short.

My blog is timed with announcing the shipment of ACI – namely the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) with ACI mode for the Nexus 9000.  But this is not a corporate sales blog. My intent is to foster an open discussion about the future of the networking industry.

ACI: A key enabler to driving fast IT

We have spent the past few years to gather the best and the brightest engineering minds focused on one simple goal:  to design an infrastructure for our customers that meets the needs of applications today and in the future. These applications require dynamic, agile, fast, secure, scalable, reliable infrastructure that is automated as a native, baseline requirement.

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Sports + Social Media = Massive Opportunities

I was at the SEAT Conference in Miami last week, and people are still abuzz about the recent World Cup. Attendees of the conference see engagement with sports fans as a top priority, and they know that Cisco has the most open, tailored and successful solutions to make that possible in venues around the world. The data below from Facebook and Twitter shows just how voraciously fans engaged on social media with regards to the World Cup.

Facebook

 

Twitter

As the world continues to become more “social” than ever before, teams, venues, leagues, and companies are working more feverishly than ever to capture the massive opportunity these sports fans present in the digital world.

Every conversation I had during the SEAT Conference validated that Cisco’s investments in Sports & Entertainment have positioned us to aid our customers to capture these digital fans. Over the past few years we have solved the problem of reliable and efficient high-density Wi-Fi, and live video streaming with minimal delay, and that is why our solutions are in more than 225 venues, and 30 plus countries, and have impacted hundreds of millions of fans. And with a proven platform in place, we are working with our customers to convert these more connected and immersive experiences into deeper levels of insight and engagement that drive impact, both on a personal level with fans and on the business side with sponsors and other associated partners looking to generate a return on their investments.

While many are looking at capturing the opportunities of the here and now, this is only the beginning.  The rapid pace of technology innovation mandates preparing for the future and as we visualize a world where everything is connected (Internet of Everything – IoE). This video series shows how Cisco and the NBA are already deep into this process. Check out the “One Bounce” video here.

As big data fuels deeper levels of fan insights, the future experience will be richer, and ultimately feed the insatiable hunger for information that these fans have already shown. Being a sports fan will be better than ever before, and Cisco will be right in the middle of making that happen.

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Using Ongoing Marketing to Nurture Leads: Do You Know What it Takes to Get to “Yes”?

When I started in my sales career many years ago, I didn’t have the luxury of an established client base or a robust CRM package that reminded me who to call. I didn’t have a marketer funneling leads to me or setting up appointments on my behalf. No, each day I came into the office and started “pounding the phones”, making cold calls, and hoped to get a live person on the phone so I could talk to them about whatever I was selling. When I got a “no”, I wrote the opportunity off and went on to the next cold call. It didn’t take long to realize this was an exercise in futility because 80 percent of other sales people were calling these exact same people using the exact same tactic. So, I thought about the way I wanted to be treated and the kind of people I liked to buy from and changed the way I approached prospects.

Although I didn’t know the official concept at the time, I started formalizing a lead nurturing approach. I shifted my mindset so that every prospect that said ”No”, was looked at as a future “Yes”. I set up call reminders on my calendar and started calling these prospects consistently at mutually agreed upon intervals. Overtime, I established relationships with these prospects, and ultimately, I closed business with more than 60 percent of them! More importantly, more than 80 percent of these clients worked exclusively with me and stopped working with other vendors! All because I took the time to nurture the relationships, made a commitment to their success and put in the hard work to make it happen. Although the process was labor intensive, it got the job done. Had I only realized what I could have accomplished by implementing a similar process through marketing campaigns, my sales could have grown exponentially higher.

Fast forward to today’s electronically-connected, ultra-complex business climate and the ”relationship” element is even more rare and impactful than ever before. Although the sales person is still a critical component of the sales process, marketing campaigns have become a much more cost effective way of nurturing prospects and staying in touch with customers. Establishing a schedule of ongoing, targeted marketing activities is an impactful way to nurture leads and keep your company “top of mind” with your prospects. However, the concept of prospecting or lead nurturing through marketing is still not a focus for most companies or sales teams.  But the statistics speak for themselves on the impact that nurturing has on business. Here are some current statistics related to lead nurturing: Read More »

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India: Transforming Promise into Performance

Seven years ago, many people (including my mother-in-law) thought I had made a career-ending decision to accept a high-risk assignment and relocate to India. My mission:  build from the ground up Cisco’s second headquarters, a Globalization Centre East in Bangalore focused on innovation, talent and partner development that envisioned 10,000 employees in three years, including the top 10% of worldwide talent. My charter included developing a world-class technology campus that also served as a showcase for incubating and advancing Smart City services worldwide, and to become the most relevant ICT company in India.

Was it the right decision?

Wim #1Although half a world away from Cisco’s corporate headquarters in the Silicon Valley, I thought the new job was still full of great promise. India was and still is the world’s largest democracy, had a growing talent pool, a zest for innovation, a co-operative government, aspirational middle class and a potentially huge economy purring along at 8% annual growth.

In four years, we partnered with national and local governments as well as an ecosystem of commercial businesses to architect and develop a fully networked campus.The Smart + Connected Community inBangalore integrated building systems with IT systems and applications onto one IP network, enveloped by artfully designed buildings and collaborative work spaces.

Today, the 1-million-square-foot Globalization Centre East campus employs more than 11,000 people, houses Cisco’s Research and Development, IT and customer support teams with the best talent in industry. The campus also meets my original charter Wim #2as the incubator for validating our industry-leading Smart + Connected Communities, especially Smart Cities, which today has projects on nearly every continent worldwide, encompassing more than 90 engagements.

All that has been extremely rewarding to see, but was it the right decision?

We achieved every critical objective except one: growing ICT technology throughout India itself. In my four years of living in India and after a number of subsequent trips revisiting there, I now realize that the promise and opportunity of India can be unpredictable.  After several years of nearly double digit growth, India’s economy spiraled down, experienced high inflation, a weakening rupee, allegations of government corruption and financial policy decisions that spooked the international investment community.

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Customer Care Enters the 21st Century

A friend of mine recently joined the rest of us in the 21st Century by getting his first smartphone. Although it was a long time coming, he’s now tweeting, checking Facebook, and tracking his favorite baseball team, the Colorado Rockies, like the rest of us.

Although my friend isn’t a techno-grouch by any means, the way consumers use smartphones to interact with companies is driving a transition in the customer care industry. Not only are consumers increasingly communicating with businesses via new mechanisms such as mobile, but they’re interacting for new reasons. Using the web and social media, today’s consumers learn much more about products and services before they reach out to a business to ask a question or resolve an issue. Gone are the days of “one size fits all” contact centers. Expert, personalized customer care is now the rule rather than the exception.

Modern Customer Collaboration (or Customer Interaction, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, or even “contact center”) solutions are meeting this challenge by evolving to address not only my friend’s new-found customer service requirements, but the ongoing needs of consumers who stepped into the 21st century long before he did.

Support for current and future mobile applications is critical. Just about every company Read More »

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