You know it’s a star-studded day when the morning starts with Rebecca Jacoby, the afternoon features Rowan Trollope and Jonathan Rosenberg, and the night ends with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry wearing this year’s freshly minted Cisco Live hat. Yes, Wednesday was a busy day.

If you somehow missed it, the word of the week is exponential. It’s a strong message in every major session I’ve attended — and for good reason. Thinking, development, change — we all know the basics of moving forward, but it’s adding exponential in front that will make the difference in your ability to disrupt yourselves, your markets, and your competitors. The exponential component is really what’s required to advance and succeed in the digital age. It’s simple math, really.

Read on for: Rowan Trollope and Jonathan Rosenberg, Industry Keynote, Intercloud, Innovation Session, Customer Appreciation Event, Customer Connection Program, Keep Up-to-Date Beyond Cisco Live 

Rowan Trollope and Jonathan Rosenberg
When the the guy on stage starts off with “At the end of this session, I’d like you to be either excited or scared,” you’re either check the exits or lean forward. When it’s Rowan Trollope (@rowantrollope) on stage, you’ll probably lean-forward. That sounds pretty fan-girl or “don’t you work in that group” of me, but I’m not the type for either. It’s that Rowan knows how to tell a story.

Since arriving at Cisco, Rowan has brought a lot of change to how we “do” collaboration. His philosophy about development: What’s the world I want to live in? How do we make it happen? Rowan talked about the three focus areas driving our collaboration efforts forward: experience, simplicity, and exponential. He quoted Steve House, a fellow mountain climber, about the connection between simplicity and user experience: “The simpler you make things, the richer the experience becomes.”

Many products suffer from the development enthusiasm of “because we can.” That’s often what breeds complexity. For me, should is one of the biggest words in the English language. It’s a judgement word: I should do this, he should have done that, it should be this way. But in development, the context I use is: Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should do it. For instance, just because I can walk backwards all day, doesn’t mean I should… Enough said.

Rowan wasn’t the first to talk about exponential thinking this week, and he won’t be the last, but I like his perspective: Baby steps don’t make a difference when you’re trying to do new things. He makes a good point — we constantly underestimate what we can do over time, but overestimate what we can do in a year.

After his customary “prayer to the demo gods,” Rowan showed two examples of the multidimensional aspects of Cisco Spark. One was a scenario with the finance team being able to contact him in real-time to talk about a questionable item on an expense report. It didn’t involve e-mailing files and links, but immediate audio, video, and document sharing. The second involved a glass booth, lunchbox, slightly sneaky shenanigans… and a great example of Intelligent Proximity. (The videos for these should be available soon and I’ll share them. It’s worth the watch.)

Jonathan Rosenberg (@jdrosen2) built on Rowan’s presentation and demos, providing more of the “behind the curtain” perspective. He outlined some of the things collaboration users ask us to provide: mobile and web options, rapid updates, cost savings, audio and video quality, open APIs… But how do you deliver: cloud or on-prem? The existing models only satisfy some customer needs. If you pick one, you lose the benefits of the other. So CTG had to redefine the approach to hybrid, combining consumer sensibility with enterprise practicality. One thing that allows cloud providers to meet user needs is rapid iteration — truly adapting for customers, quickly. Using Cisco Spark as an example, he explained that you have to build in the capability for rapid iteration from the start — you can’t sprinkle it on later. (Confession: I immediately pictured donuts.)

He also addressed security of cloud apps, in particular how it’s addressed with Spark. Spark uses end-to-end security. In simple terms: The encryption is handled on the sending end, the information already is encrypted before it reaches the cloud. The decryption occurs on the receiving end.

Rowan closed the session by acknowledging what he didn’t show on stage, saying that what’s more important than what he shared on stage is what you didn’t see: the teams that make it happen. “My team has courage and all of you have courage. We’re asking you to come along on this ride with us.”

Industry Keynote with Rebecca Jacoby
An apt topic for someone transitioning from the role of CIO to COO, Rebecca Jacoby (@rjacoby15) focused on how the Internet of Everything will impact the IT mindset and the resulting evolution of IT careers. She covered a lot of ground from the three basic workloads of the network (communications, applications, and process) to the evolution from large-scale services to a combination of those services with microservices interacting in a more meshed approach (vs. hierarchies). 

She brought along Carol Stoddard of NetApp (@CAStoddard), John Roese from IMC (@theICToptimist), and Intel’s Diane Bryant, each of whom provided perspective on the evolution ahead. Paraphrased sound bites from each:

  • Stoddard: A classic mistake of IT organizations is trying to solve immediate business needs with technology. Leveraging a solid enterprise architecture is akin to building a skyscraper with a blueprint.
  • Roese: Today, no one has the responsibility to know where all the data is. This is the opportunity for the CIO. The value of big data is not to have it, but gather, consolidate, use it to create insight for business to create reason.
  • Bryant: It’s not a new idea that data is money. Carrier pigeons were a first data-transfer solution.

Check the Cisco Live website for the replay to catch the full thing. Another presentation that’s well worth watching.


Intercloud Innovation Session
Nick Earle (@nearle) led the session on Cisco Intercloud, explaining that Cisco isn’t out to build another Google, but to solve the issue of exponential connectivity. As products become cloud-enabled, they become 10 times more valuable based on the information they have. Intercloud is more than hybrid cloud: The future requires a broader perspective to address tens of thousands of clouds, new cloud-native applications, secure network policy extension… A big issue today is whether organizations actually have an idea of the cloud usage within their organizations — what apps and types of apps are people using, where are the security risks, etc. Check out the Cloud Consumption Services.

The Intercloud demo really hit home for me — it had great examples of Cisco Spark and Garden Gnomes, two concepts that don’t always come together. Even at an industry event.

Customer Appreciation Event
Aerosmith. The new Cisco Hat. Frivolity. The pictures on Twitter do it far better justice than I could. But I will say I enjoyed getting to spend more time with the members of the Cisco Champions program rotating conversations between technology, music, kids, and whatever that strange insect-like act was between the opening bands and Aerosmith.

Customer Connection Program
If you’re part of the Customer Connection Program and here at Cisco Live, you’ve had exclusive access to technology roadmap discussions with product management, special seating at some of the events, and other insider benefits. If you’re not part of the program, check out the site to learn more about what it has to offer beyond the San Diego Convention Center. Because it started as the Collaboration User Group, there’s a great representation of collaboration benefits, opportunities, and members with whom to connect.

Today’s Video
Kids are mirrors, even when you don’t want them to be. What would it look like if a kid imitated you attending an online meeting? Don’t let this happen to you…



Keep Up-to-Date Beyond Cisco Live
On Twitter, follow me at @ciscokima or our social team at @CiscoCollab. For more than 140 characters at a time, follow the Collaboration Blog (the thing you’re reading now).

All that busy above is the reason this post didn’t go live last night and I’m sitting in what may be one of the most comfortable bean-bag chair kinda things ever. Just wishing it would fit in my carry-on.

Posts from earlier in the week:
Monday Wrap-Up
John Chambers Keynote, Chuck Robbins, World of Solutions,
New Products, and… a Cat Video!

Tuesday Wrap-Up
Handisco, Peter Diamandis, Cisco Champions,
Video: Collaboration in Toyland, Auto-Reply for the Digital Age


Kim Austin

No Longer with Cisco