By 2020 75 percent of all companies will be fully digital. The huge shift to a fully digital ecosystem has accelerated over the last couple of years, resulting in Fast IT, which is the new operating model for Cisco IT. The 3rd annual Data Center Day in Allen, Texas, could not have been a better showcase for this new model with its theme, “Disrupt or be Disrupted!” About 130 Cisco customers from every market segment, and in total more than 300 people, attended the Data Center Days on April 13th and 14th.

Lance Perry, VP of Cisco IT Customer Strategy and Success,was accompanied by an outstanding speaker lineup. John Chambers, CEO and Chairman of Cisco, opened the day and talked about the move into the digital age. Cisco called many transitions in the market right and very early, enabling us to make the move from Information Age to the Digital Age very early ourselves, but also with the changes necessary. About 30 percent of the leadership at Cisco has changed over the last two years. Change is no longer an exception but belongs to our culture. As John stated that at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, we are no longer talking about technology like routers and switches but we are talking about whole economy transformations. For example, everybody needs to operate exponentially, e.g. for rapid development and prototyping and linear for the systems of record. It’s important to have the ability to switch between those two in an agile manner.

Joseph Bradley, VP of Cisco Consulting Services, picked up the ball from Lance and took us into the Internet of Everything. When you hear statements like “Real time is too slow,” you start thinking about a flashing light in your car indicating that you are low on oil. If you don’t adhere to the real-time information, your engine blows up 30 seconds later. Just a little too late, but still too late! His concept of “Context is King” resonated very well with the audience, especially when he stated that simply putting some sensors in does not deliver value. The context in which you can use those sensors and the data that you get out of them is the innovation that is required in the future, and where the real value lies. Identifying the “Dark Asset” — what is not connected but needs to be connected — is the key value driver. Joseph closed with some good advice for the future when he said that IT no longer stands for Information Technology, but rather Implementation Transformation. To execute on that, IT needs to operate like a profit center and create a save-to-invest strategy to move towards Fast IT.

With that Rebecca Jacoby, Senior Vice President and CIO of Cisco, took the ball and explained the changing role of Cisco IT. The only way is up, she said. The only way is up in terms of expectations to Cisco IT! The IT organization is on a continuous transformation, and the move into IT as a services organization does not have an end. IT is a critical part of the business and needs to partner with the business in every angle. Better and new services need to be delivered in a much faster way, incorporating innovation everywhere. The most powerful source for that change, as Rebecca explained, is the data that is gathered constantly. The data must be right and a trusted source of information, because the data is the fuel for innovation. Especially when we talk about security. Data analytics is the best and first use case!

Attendees had the opportunity to ask questions of an executive panel led by John Manville, Senior Vice President, Global Infrastructure Services at Cisco,with Rebecca, John, and Joseph accompanied by Soni Jiandani, Senior VP, Insieme Business Unit. High interest was given to the IT service transformation, cost savings,save to invest, and in utilizing IT more efficiently. Moving from the executive panel discussion into the networking lunch was really great as everybody was able to continue the conversations with Cisco, other companies in attendance, and partners.

Later in the day, customers were split into groups to tour through the various stations around the Cisco main production data center in Allen. Tour topics included the main infrastructure from a cooling, power, and green perspective, how we manage the demand, plan the capacity, and what Cisco technologies help IT to be agile and a respected and valued partner to Cisco and our business. The importance of the data center was exemplified firsthand, with emphasis on big transitions to Intercloud, ACI, and distributed workloads.

The third annual Data Center Day ended with networking, finger food, lots of great discussions, and a promise to expand Data Center Day to Europe later in 2015.