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Manufacturing Recovery? Who says?…

October 4, 2012 at 8:30 am PST

…well, it looks like several folks are saying it!

American Factories were going all out in September -- is it a sign that the US economy is picking up?  Wall street certainly seemed to respond well to some key indicators at the beginning of October.

Take a look at some of the performance metrics below and you’ll get an indication of why…

  • The ISM (Institute for Supply Management) Index (PMI™)  rose to 51.5 for September from 49.6 in August. Anything above 50 shows growth (growing rather than contracting), and a nearly two point rise reverses previous months declines, the fastest pace since May.
  • Pace is slow, but signs are hopeful. The new orders index rose from 47.1 to 52.3 suggesting humming production this month, and suggests November will be good too.

However…

  • The economy isn’t growing as fast as the Fed Chairman would like. Hence an open-ended QE3 (Quantitive Easing 3) and a statement that interest rates will remain low until 2015.
  • JP Morgan Economists are saying that we’ve seen a slow down in US Manufacturing and it’s tracking more like the overall US economic growth -- sluggish, suggesting the best may be behind us. Still growing though, but slowly.

Overall I’m a bull on US manufacturing. There are a number of US companies looking to bring back jobs from overseas. But the labor shortage in the US is getting worse. Baby Boomers retiring, not enough skilled or trained workers to take their place. A recent Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute study stated that manufacturing sector can’t find workers with the right skills to fill around 600,000 jobs. Hopefully Cisco’s Remote Expert and Cisco’s other solutions will help. Check out Ron Kafka’s blog titled “Realize Business-Wide Benefits with Cisco’s Remote Expert” to find more about Remote Expert. Read More »

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UK and US Manufacturing – the same or different?

May 27, 2012 at 11:58 pm PST

Since I was brought up in England and worked for three American Hi-Tech Companies in the UK, I was intrigued by the latest report to come out of the Centre for Industry and Government at the University of Cambridge titled Public perceptions of manufacturing and efforts to rebalance the UK economy“.

In fact I’m grateful to the folks at Automation World for bringing it to my attention. Automation World is a good source of industry insight (readers might remember the article I contributed about the use of Social Media in Manufacturing, which I blogged about in January of this year:  How Social Media Improves Collaboration – Automation World, November 2011, and how they awarded Cisco ‘First Team Honors’ which you can read more about in the blog: Automation World First Team Honors Won by Cisco Systems for Leadership in Networking.

So, back to the point of this blog. The folks at the Cambridge Centre, lead by Dr. Finbarr Livesey, Director, Centre for Industry and Government IfM, University of Cambridge, come up with some interesting perceptions concerning the UK. Nearly 1,500 respondents suggests that manufacturing has become more High Tech and they believe that there is a strong requirement for more highly skilled workers.

There’s the rub. Read More »

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” Good Enough” Switching is not Good Enough for Public Sector Customers

March 1, 2012 at 1:03 pm PST

Public Sector customers continue to debate the trade-offs of prioritizing lowest price switching, point product solutions, over designing and deploying Cisco network architecture solutions which provide a lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

On February 23, 2012, Deloitte Consulting presented the findings of an in-depth research study that examines the operational, financial, and risk factors associated with the use of single-vendor and multivendor approaches in different types of complex networks which may be viewed here along with the report itself.

They key findings are summarized in the following 7 items:

  1. Within the context of total IT spending, the use of single-vendor or multivendor architectures does not present material cost differences on a long-term basis. Initial cost savings realized in multivendor network implementations are mitigated by the incremental operating costs over the life of the equipment.
  2. Enterprise networks are considered critical production systems, key to business operations. Networks must be managed with an appropriate operational risk perspective.
  3. Customers prefer a single vendor to be responsible for all network components and services. The operational risk associated with network support, not the cost, is the primary factor when influencing the decisions to use single or multivendor architectures.
  4. Staffing costs are not significantly impacted by the use of multiple vendors; it is more influenced by the mix of functions supported and the types of network services provided.
  5. Using products from different vendors can bring down initial costs for certain products, but adds higher operating risk in service, support, and operational integration.
  6. The use of multiple networking vendors introduces additional operational risk based on the need for customers to assume increased risks for integration, interoperability and support.
  7. When using multiple vendors’ products, customers frequently do not recognize the interdependencies of functionality, long-term costs, and impact on operational risks

And be sure to watch Director of Public Sector Systems Engineering,  Dave West on youtube present his version of why low-cost, ” Good Enough” Switching is not Good Enough for Public Sector Customers looking for a reliable, secure, highly available, well supported and investment protected network.

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Single and Loving It

I don’t know about you, but I can get easily frustrated trying to sort out home network issues. When my connectivity goes wonky, I’m left wondering if it’s my modem/router, my service provider, or user error (hard to believe, I know). And that’s coming from someone with an engineering degree.  Things would be simpler and less aggravating if I only had to place one phone call to problem solve.  Knowing how much this puts me out on just a personal level, I can’t imagine why some businesses would elect to deal with networking on a much grander scale using a similar model of various sources of accountability.

When you rely on multiple vendors to provision your network architecture, accountability becomes diluted. While you might think you’re mitigating risk by not putting all your eggs in one basket, you’re actually adding to the complexity, lengthening time for problem resolution, and ultimately, adding to your costs—thereby creating risks that can be even more problematic. But don’t take my word for it. Tune in to a special webcast featuring Deloitte Consulting at 8am, February 23. Deloitte will reveal its findings from an in-depth study comparing TCO and risk in single versus multivendor networks. In fact, here’s a quick preview:

You’ll also hear directly from two businesses that participated in the study: Pella Corporation and Cadence Design Systems. And, if you’re still a skeptic, join the live Q&A throughout the web cast, so you can pose your specific questions to experts from Deloitte and Cisco.

After you see the compelling results of this study, you might just find yourself single and loving it.

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Check out the video for Cisco’s Women’s Spring Forum Gender Diversity Event

I have the pleasure of sharing with you a YouTube video of the “Printemps des Femmes”/”Women’s Spring Forum” a gender diversity event, initiated by Cisco and co-organized by 9 companies which took place in France on March 21, 2011.

The idea for this event came from Cisco. Sandy Beky, a Business Operations Manager in Cisco’s European Services organisation and an Inclusion and Diversity Ambassador, attended the 2010 edition of the Women’s Forum Global Meeting where she met many diversity leads from other corporations. Sandy felt that these diversity events often attracted the same attendees and wanted to create an event to provide women (who contribute to gender diversity related employee resource groups) the opportunity to network with other women to  share and exchange their corporate best practices in the area of gender inclusion and  diversity.

In true diversity style, nine different companies -- Areva, Bain&Company, Cap Gemini, Cisco, Deloitte, Lathams&Watkins, Nissan, Orange et Sodexo – worked together to virtually organise the Women’s Spring Forum. Between 10 to 15 female representations from these companies attended the afternoon event, which began with a plenary session facilitated by a well known speaker in France; Veronique Preaux Cobti, Founder and Managing Director of DIAFORA which specialises in promoting gender diversity in corporations. Veronique gave her audience top tips on how they can widen their professional and personal network, explained about the importance of networking and the barriers women can impose on themselves. This plenary session also gave women hints and tips on effective networking; for example how to introduce oneself at the event and how to continue networking after attending an event like this one, and Veronique encouraged women to practice this both during the event and after the event too.

Following this session, attendees were encouraged to attend practical workshops on the following topics: Personal Branding, Mentoring, Telecommuting, Assertiveness and Leadership. Each workshop gave women tools that they could immediately implement and take back into their everyday life. Feedback from the event was extremely positive – 88% of the women scored the event 4 or 5 on a scale from 1-5.

As a young female employee of Cisco, I cannot stress enough the importance of networking events like the Women’s Spring Forum. Cisco is founded on the principle of networking -- Welcome To The Human Network after all! And although women make up approximately 60% of graduates, there is still a shortage of women going into the technology sector. Networking events like the Women’s Spring Forum show the opportunities technology companies like Cisco can offer to women. I myself do not have an engineering degree and if you asked me to fix your computer or explain to you how a computer works, I wouldn’t be very useful! However, Cisco has provided me the opportunity to not only put my strength -- including creativity, interpersonal skills and being able to take a complex idea and make it simple – to good use but also do what I love the most – communications. And Cisco has also opened my eyes to new opportunities like Inclusion and Diversity. It is one of my goals in Cisco to share my experiences with other young women and to encourage more females to apply for jobs in technology.

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