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Cisco’s Software Journey

Last week I attended the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando, where the theme of the event was “Driving Digital Business.” One of the key themes was the Internet of Everything (IoE) as well as some of the key enabling trends like mobility, cloud, big data, and analytics. A lot of attention was focused on  the changing role of the CIO and how in this new generation of IT, CIOs need to become better equipped to help drive the digitization of the business. In particular, there was discussion around the importance of the user experience, whether customer or employee, and the emergence of “Chief Digital Officers” to oversee the full range of digital strategies to transform businesses as their products evolve digitally.

It’s clear that cloud, mobility, IoE, and big data analytics are fundamentally changing the business landscape in which we operate today. They are leveling the playing field and triggering business outcome-based innovation and investment in IT.  And software-driven solutions are key to driving innovation in any organization.

This is precisely why I joined Cisco just over a year ago: to develop Cisco’s software strategy and accelerate growth of our software businesses. Cisco is positioned to have a massive impact in this market, and I’m excited to play a role in addressing some of the challenges in this space through software – whether that’s in collaboration, across our traditional core businesses in network infrastructure, data center, or mobility.

Today, Cisco’s software journey is well under way. Based on revenues from our software products and services, we already rank as the 5th largest software company in the world. We’ve grown from the 7th largest enterprise SaaS vendor in 2012 to now the 3rd largest SaaS vendor by revenue in 2014.  Nine out of 10 of our most recent acquisitions have been companies driven by software.

What does this mean for our customers? It means they can rely on Cisco to innovate faster, provide richer employee and customer experiences, connect the unconnected, and use big data analytics to gain new insights.

In the coming weeks, you’ll hear more from me and my team about how we’re helping to accelerate and bring about this software transformation at Cisco across our entire portfolio of products and services. You’ll hear how we’re radically changing the way our customers and partners consume, manage, and use our software products and how we’re bringing more application-centric and cloud-ready infrastructure to market.

What do you think about software at Cisco? Let me know in the comments below.

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Introducing the Industry Talent Consortium

The Internet of Everything (IoE) will connect people, data, processes and things into a vast web of communication that is already dramatically changing how we live and work. Cisco projects that by next year, 25 billion devices will be connected, and that number will double by 2020. This expanded and enhanced connectivity carries tremendous opportunities for organizations and individuals as job roles and networks change.

An irony exists, though, in the midst of all this new opportunity. There are over 11 million unemployed people in the US today, yet 45 percent of employers cannot find qualified candidates for open jobs. Klaus Schwab, Chairman of the World Economic Forum, encapsulates our current dilemma: “We have entered a global economy where talent and skills shortages challenge economic and business growth around the world.”

The debate about whether the skills gap exists is over. It is real, and it is serious. The 2014 Cisco Annual Security Report indicates a shortage of more than a million security professionals across the globe in 2014. Employers are facing challenges finding people with the necessary skills for new industry jobs such as data scientists, cybersecurity specialists, industrial network engineers, mobile app developers and network programmers.

The business outcomes, productivity gains and organizational efficiencies that are attainable through IoT can only be achieved with a skilled and competent workforce. There is a need for reskilling the existing talent pool and bringing new employees into the workforce to align with the skills needed for the future.

A skills gap of this magnitude must be met head-on and as quickly as possible. It’s too big for any one entity to tackle; it requires a group of dedicated stakeholders. Toward that end, the IoTWF Steering Committee is introducing an Industry Talent Consortium It’s a gathering of employers, academia, industry change agents and human capital solution providers to connect talent who have pre-requisite skills to employers – after necessary training and certifications.

Key players in each of these areas will bring their subject matter expertise to the table:

  • Academia (The New York Academy of Sciences, MIT, Stanford) will help prepare students through degree programs, professional development and in partnering with companies to provide training for the jobs of the future.
  • Human Capital Solution Providers (Careerbuilder) will help identify top jobs, regions, supply/demand and skill gaps.
  • Employers (Rockwell Automation, Davra Networks, GE) are looking to hire individuals for the new job roles.
  • Change Agents (Cisco, Xerox, Rockwell Automation, Udacity, Pearson, Knod) will create education curriculum, training and certifications that will help train and validate the skills needed for the new jobs.

Working together, we will identify skill gaps, find talent with the right background to up-skill or re-skill, create and implement the needed training and certification programs, recruit them into appropriate degree or certificate programs and hire that talent for the jobs that will power the Internet of Everything. The Industry Talent Consortium is, in a real sense, a battle stance on behalf of our collective, connected future. The Consortium will continue to evolve, adding new contributing partners as its scope and scale increases.

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Enabling Agile Business Operations in a Connected World

We have all heard visions and use-cases about the Internet of Things (IoT). Many of these take on the flavor of pots talking to kettles and capture our imagination on what IoT can do. The question of “why” we connect things in the first place becomes obvious when we think about the value of such connections to users and businesses – a value creation that requires connecting people, processes, data, and things for the Internet of Everything (IoE). Unlocking the potential for such value means facing the reality of how we bring those four dimensions together – a complex effort that requires us to bind all types of enterprise business assets in unique ways. We’ll take a quick look at how we go from the “Why IoE?” to the “How to IoE?”

While the promise of intelligent connections across these dimensions is easy to see, how we make those connections in a replicable and scalable fashion is far from easy. We are not just connecting machines to machines (M2M), people to people (P2P), or people to machines (P2M); not just enabling B2B or B2C. We need to enable all permutations of such connections for X2X connectivity.  Unless we have core building blocks that enable this, an X2X world can become a spider-web of unmanageable connections that require reinventing and rearchitecting for every new type of intelligent connection.

Enabling X2X Connections

Let us take a look how we can bring these assets together; the technologies and services that are critical to enable this value creation; and how Cisco’s suite of software & services for enabling IoE applications will help.

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Delivering IoE Solutions requires us to have capabilities that power each of the above four quadrants as follows: Read More »

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Analytics for an IoE World

I recently wrote about how Cisco is helping customers more effective manage massive amounts of data, types of data and unprecedented distribution of data. This will be one of the toughest challenges brought on by the Internet of Everything (IoE) and, with solutions such as Data Virtualization and Big Data Warehouse Expansion, Cisco is enabling our customers to meet the challenge head on of bringing all of this data together in ways that are meaningful to business users.

After the business can access and view all of this data, however, the question becomes…now what? The next challenge is to extract insights from the data to make better business decisions.  After all, more data is only good if you use it to make better decisions than you would have made otherwise.

The rules of customer and business relationships are constantly changing due to technological innovation and consumption patterns. Analytics can reveal patterns in customer data that affect business processes and outcomes. Advanced analytics is different than reporting because it prescribes what to do, or predicts what is likely to happen, instead of just reporting what has already happened.

Utilizing the network to securely connect data throughout the IoE, whether in motion (streaming) or at rest (historical), is the future of advanced analytics.  For a retailer, it will give them the opportunity to take intelligent actions to engage customers directly at the point of purchase and in real-time. But it’s so much more than that. What can real-time analytics in retail tell us about how to serve customers more effectively?  What can real-time analytics in manufacturing tell us about how to make the workplace safer?  What can real-time analytics in healthcare tell us about how to better treat cancer patients?

When our customers can accurately predict outcomes by combining years of historical data with real-time information, they can drive better decisions…better outcomes.

 

Learn More

Interested in hearing how Cisco is paving the way to the future of analytics? Please join us for a webcast at 9 AM Pacific time on October 21st entitled ‘Unlock Your Competitive Edge with Cisco Big Data and Analytics Solutions.’ #UnlockBigData

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To learn more about Data and Analytics, check out our page.

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#CiscoPublicSafety Series: Redefining Public Safety and Justice through IoE

Public safety and justice agencies around the world are facing the increasingly difficult challenge of dealing with shrinking resources. In the U.S., for example, results from a survey conducted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and Major Cities Chiefs Association show an estimated 53 percent of U.S. counties are working with fewer staff today than they were a decade ago.

As a result of having to do more with less, police are turning to technology as a force multiplier, and one of the greatest force multipliers can come from the Internet of Everything (IoE). In short, the Internet of Everything is the networked connection of people, process, data, and things. What it can do for public safety and justice agencies is to create opportunities to increase cost efficiency, improve safety and security, provide better response times, and increase productivity.

A great example involves San Antonio.

Read More »

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