Yes, the wrap-up of Wednesday’s Cisco Live happenings is a little behind schedule. With most of my scheduled sessions complete, I spent more of Wednesday in the World of Solutions to check out the Cisco demonstrations and see what other exhibitors brought to share. It’s a busy environment. In the new setup of the Cisco space, the Collaboration technology is integrated with other products based on the use case. It did make it a bit tricky to find things at first, but then you’d be getting a demo surrounded by the other technologies that support what you’re trying to do.

When I did find time to take breaks and actually sit down (usually near a power source), I was always surrounded by conversations peppered with acronyms and product names. This is definitely the place to talk shop. Right now, I’m sitting near conversations in at least three languages. It’s beyond cool.

Social Impact Zone 

Social Impact Zone at Cisco LiveAmid all of the product demos, presentations, and learning sessions, there are also opportunities to make a positive difference. The trend to include philanthropic efforts within technical events definitely gets my positive endorsement. When you have so many people in one place, you have an opportunity to do some good. Here, the Social Impact Zone is where you can take a little bit of time to make a big difference. Wednesday morning, I spent an hour doing just that. We assembled hygiene kits for Clean the World, which will donate them to the local community.

Cisco Champions

One cool element of my job is working with the Cisco Champion program. These are seriously technical professionals from customer and partner organizations. They’re equally passionate about being part of a community in which they share their expertise through social media, blogs, communities, and other routes. Of the 300+ members around the world, more than 80 made the journey to Cisco Live. The international representation here this week includes members from New Zealand, Costa Rica, Europe, the United States, and Canada.

Members are under non-disclosure, so we provide them with benefits throughout the year, including pre-launch briefings, feedback sessions with product teams, and more.

Cisco Live is one of the few opportunities I have to meet people in person – and it’s definitely one of the big benefits of attending the conference. We held two panels this week in the World of Solutions. I hosted a discussion about technical specialization vs. generalization. The Champions who joined me talked about how they’ve managed their careers, when and why they’ve pursued certifications, and any advice they’d provide to others. My colleague Lauren Albert hosted a panel specifically about how the program has helped members build their technical careers as well as their personal industry credibility.

Our onsite events also include some behind-the-scenes tours. Tuesday morning included a behind-the-scenes tour of World of Solutions, the keynote stage, and other nerdy stuff. Admittedly, I wasn’t expecting to be wowed by the keynote details. But once our hosts started digging into the technical details – the real guts behind the magic screens – it was pretty fascinating. There’s a lot happening “behind the curtain” to make sure things go smoothly. Another stop on the tour was a visit with the Cisco Tactical Operations team. TacOps can quickly deploy globally to support the acute phase of natural disasters and crises that affect communications. TacOps provides on-the-ground support using advanced Cisco technology and rapidly deployable satellite-based networks. The team establishes secure IP-based communications for first responders, government agencies, relief organizations, disaster victims and other affected groups. TacOps manages the Cisco Disaster Incident Response Team, Cisco volunteers who deploy wherever they’re needed.

Customer Appreciation Event

Yesterday was a busy day topped by a chaotic evening at the Customer Appreciation Event at Universal Studios. As a firm believer in work-life balance, it’s honestly good to see 20,000+ people go from sessions, labs, testing, and booth wandering to a ridiculously big party.

roller coaster at CLUS
The party was fun despite the definite damp weather.


Kim Austin

No Longer with Cisco