Change happens either with us, by us or to us. Especially during the 3 Day IT Management Track at Cisco Live in Milan. We heard many things about leadership, disruption, change and innovation, and why it is the most important for leaders to listen, while sending the right signals to the audience. As Kevin Murray from the Good Relationship group stated: “People are afraid of ‘change’ but love to ‘innovate’ – so tell me the difference between ’change’ and ‘innovation’ – there is none!” If 60% of the companies’ assets are intangible, representing USD 35 trillion in total, leaders can really make a difference by valuing the people around them.

A great sense of valuation, gratitude, inspiration, and motivation was in the room around the nearly 240 IT Managers across the 3 Days program. The line up around the hosts of the event, Tony Harrison – EMEAR CIO Cisco IT and Ramon Tancinco – Director Cisco IT Central Europe and Emerging, was absolutely staggering. It has been a perfect mix between technical expertise, leadership qualities, innovation, and passion and most important IT management skills. Tony Harrison kicked off on Tuesday morning with a fabulous visual – “CIO NOO” Number plate of a car parked in London – to express some of the challenges that CIO’s face these days. The “Future State of IT” really covered a broad sense of what Cisco IT has done over the last couple of years to foster the mantra “ROI – Relationships over Issues” and to stay relevant to the business by delivering great value!

Following up was Joseph Bradley, Vice President, Cisco Consulting Services for IoE, stating that, “Real-time is too late.” Putting technology in does not always deliver value. This is a great example of industry transformation happening. He left us with a challenging question around the fact that CEO´s are ready for IoE, but will CIO´s be able to deliver?

A few insights on what will be delivered from Cisco IT through the IoE were given straight after by John Manville, SVP Global Infrastructure Services, and Dr. Plamen Nedeltchev, Distinguished IT Engineer Cisco IT. Many focus areas were covered, including Intellectual Asset Protection, Behavioral Analytics, smart energy solutions, Advance Threat Defense and the benefits of seeing attacks 25% faster than without IoE solutions.

While many touched on security from several angles, and identified security as being the foundation to everything, Steve Martino, VP Security Cisco IT, shifted gears going from the classical security approach into cloud security. No matter where you are and what you do – security is the key element to everything! And after all these great insights into what is being changed and what innovation is happening everywhere, Ulrich Baldauf, Chief Strategist for the Hamburg Port Authority, showed us great examples of IoE in action. It turns out that the Port of Hamburg is becoming one large sensor-based network, predicting the near future by analyzing Big Data. In other words, delivering value by raising productivity.

Turning from a real life customer story, Chief Futurist of Cisco, Carlos Dominguez, rounded up the day. Simple rules like explaining Customer Value being the Benefits divided by the Costs, or the NABC Model (Need, Approach, Benefits, Costs) really drove innovation home. Having such a passionate and energetic speaker on stage, taking us all on a journey, made us forget that Carlos had delivered his last presentation at Cisco before he left for retirement!

How can you beat such an incredible Day 1? The answer is pretty easy – having more great speakers, like Soni Jiandani together with Manville covering ACI and solving Infrastructure challenges, or Nick Earle and Rob Boetticher, talking about Next Gen Cloud Services and the Cisco strategy. Marisa Chancellor and Gustav Toppenberg explained the most important part of the IT Services transformation. All the agenda items before lead to the question: “How do I need to change my IT organization to keep pace with the innovation happening?” A great example of showing IT as a Services Organization by bridging architecture to the business gap gave some great insight on the transformation that has happened to the Cisco IT organization over the last 6 years.

Lunch with the Cisco Executives like Chris Dedicoat, SVP EMEAR Sales, Rowan Trollope, Global Lead Collaboration Technology group, and many others provided a great opportunity for networking and exchange overseeing the beautiful city of Milan in bright sunshine. With the energy and batteries recharged, breakout sessions started on various topics including “IT Services Definition” and “Beyond BYOD,” just to name a few. “Continuous Delivery” ran parallel to the “Enterprise App Store at Cisco” and later an “Architecture Roundtable” or “Getting value out of Big Data” gave incredible learnings and insights into Cisco on Cisco.


Kicking off Day 3 under the theme of Leadership promised to be a great experience for everybody. Rowan Trollope shared his personal experience, of what the difference is between leadership based on the foundation of a book versus the leadership qualities he had to prove to save his life and the life of his friends. Focusing on a few things and being simple are just a few principles which he explained and illustrated. Guillermo Diaz, SVP Cisco IT, took Rowan’s experience into a discussion with David Bevilacqua, VP Sales for EMEAR South, with the customer Hofmann La Roche and Shyam Chudasama, Cisco IT Analyst. The conclusion that everybody is leading something and that we are all leaders resonated because nowadays a mix of management and leadership skills are essential.

That being said, Bram van Spaendonk, Senior Manager Cisco IT, took the audience on a practical ride in change management and how multiple models are being applied at Cisco. He gave great examples on why it is important to have Change Management Processes and instruments. Jeanne Dunn, VP Learning at Cisco, picked up the ball and shared the secrets on “Jobs of the Future.” What skills are necessary, whom to look for and where to find those people have just been some of the angles Jeanne discovered.

I started my blog with Kevin Murray and will conclude with him. Likewise, we did conclude the IT Management Track listening to his insights and tips and tricks on building your leadership brand. Taking the audience from Milan into a plane being in big trouble and a father receiving a text “Daddy are you there?!” led into the story and everybody was able to co-create the story. The audience went silent, following every word what Kevin said using the right language and sending the right signals.

What a ride this has been – IT Management in Milan! 3 days with the best team in the world, the best presenters possible from a very diverse environment and the most inspiring customers that followed from start to finish. For me, this has been a fantastic experience and it created a great foundation on many skills I will foster going forward. As I am just leaving Milan while writing this blog I am delighted to announce that Cisco Live will also move from Milan to Berlin – to my home country! So to close the blog, I am grateful to be part of such a great team being part of such a great company and I am really looking forward to seeing you all in Berlin 2016 for IT Management @ Cisco Live!

P.S: As Guillermo stated in his Panel – Everybody is leading something, you have been able to spot our “Millennials” leading various tracks in the ITM program like the video shoots during the day being presented on the next morning and many more Things. A big “Thank You” to Shyam, Somer and the “extended” crew – You guys are awesome and you really show great leadership every day!