I’m continually amazed at how technology transforms our lives. As the founder of Cisco DevNet, I want to ensure that technology benefits countries, cities, businesses, governments, and, most importantly, people and their communities. The network is the center of how people, services, and businesses connect. As we witness a major paradigm shift in networks becoming programmable software systems, the industry needs to consider how the network can transform daily life in ways we may not have imagined before. I recently shared my thoughts on Smart Country innovation at the oldest university in the world – University of Naples Federico II in Italy.

Susie opeing Naples labOpening the Cisco Academy and Digital Transformation Lab with (Left to Right) Giuseppe Cinque, Dino Giarrusso, Dario Antonio Velardi, Emanuela Spagnoli, Miriam Simonelli, Francesca Belpaese, Andrea Belcore, Susie Wee, Agostino Santoni, Giorgio Ventre, Piotr Pluta, Leopoldo Angrisani and Enrico Mercadante.

I was in Naples to open the new Cisco Academy and Digital Transformation Lab at the University of Naples. This is a collaboration between Cisco DevNet, the university, and the state of Campania, and it was specifically born from the crazy idea of Cisco country general manager Agostino Santoni, University of Naples Professor Giorgio Ventre, and Campania Minister of Innovation Valeria Fascione. They wanted to revitalize the economy in Naples by mixing students, businesses, entrepreneurs, and the government.

Presenters, University and Academy leaders
Presenters, University and Academy leaders (left to right front row) Susie Wee, Agostino Santoni, Enrico Mercadante, (left to right back row) Dino Giarrusso, Valerie Fasciona, Giorgio Ventre, Piotr Pluta, Marco De Angelis and Professor Edoardo Consenza

Naples is an old city with an incredibly rich history, and it is in the midst of significant transformation. As I stepped foot on the campus, I couldn’t help but think that there is a mix of old and new in Naples, and how technology is impacting old traditions while creating new ones.

For example, one question that faces parents and our youth today is if they have to move away from their home in order to get a good education and have a good career. My vision is that people should be able to improve their communities and be successful in business right where they are, and that we can create this by catalyzing business opportunities in the digital economy. An old city can be a smart city, but who better to improve an old city than its current residents. Technology brings the opportunity for citizens to revitalize business growth and create innovations that solve community challenges. Citizens can utilize the digital economy to stay close to family and friends while gaining access to good education, good jobs, and good careers.

Realizing these opportunities requires a country to move toward becoming a Smart Country with Smart Cities as part of the model. This typically occurs in three phases starting with building connectivity and coverage across the country. In the second stage core services are added like smart transportation and location services. Finally, services can be interconnected across the country and machine intelligence and human intelligence can be applied to provide services that truly improve people’s lives.

Smart Country phases

The programmable infrastructure opens new opportunities

What is this new wave? It’s a revolution fueled by a new wave of infrastructure and next generation networking technology that is programmable. This modern infrastructure means digitizing roadways, transportation, manufacturing plants, buildings, stores and homes. The new programmable infrastructure means application developers can transform industries by providing new innovations on the very infrastructure that is core to their functioning.

apps and infra hamburger diagram

For the last five years, I’ve been leading Cisco’s software developer program. Our organization provides both students and professionals the opportunity to be successful in learning these new technologies and creating in new careers. DevNet has grown to over 500,000 members worldwide showing that these skills are critical for the digital economy.

DevNet brings key stakeholders together

With the opening of the Cisco Academy and Digital Transformation Lab we are bringing DevNet to Naples, and teaming up with the university, government, developers, start-ups, and students to drive this new networking paradigm for the local economy. After the public presentation opening our new academy and lab, I had the opportunity to participate in a briefing with some of the local start-ups including R-Factory, Seintetic, E-Lisa and AppTripper. I saw first-hand how the blend of these start-ups, developers, students and enterprise companies will contribute to the great ecosystem already under way in Italy.

DevNet Ecosystem Exchange brings business and solutions together

In my presentation I shared a few examples of local Cisco partners who have joined the DevNet Ecosystem Exchange. Through the exchange, these companies are able to take advantage of the wider exposure they gain by providing their solutions to the entire Cisco ecosystem. For example:

  • Cloud4Wi has already utilized API integration to personalize retail offerings and bring smart city services to deliver better customer experiences. By leveraging Cisco Meraki and the programmable WiFi infrastructure of CMX, Cloud4Wi’s product suite enables Gruppo FS Italiane railway to provide context-aware services–such as timetables, maps, and station navigation–to passengers, guests, and the local communities.
  • Xensify has integrated with Cisco CMX and WiFi to gain business intelligence application that helps store managers run their business in a more profitable and successful way.
  • Alleantia has integrated Cisco IoX to provide secure connectivity for industrial machines. Alleantia application, implemented in the programmable network, enables the dataflow between industrial machines and the business application.

The opportunity to leverage these technologies is available to anyone who wants to learn more from the curated learning paths we have created in DevNet. I had the opportunity to meet some students from the Apple Academy who had taken advantage of our Webex Teams technology in a hackathon this year in Naples. These students decided to study our technologies on their own to up-skill and bring Cisco technologies into a mobile app to help people navigate around cities they are visiting for the first time.

Naples hackathon winnersHackathon winners on stage (left to right) Valerie Fasciona, Agostino Santoni,
Susie Wee and hackathon participants from Team Ocean

The collaboration of this diverse set of constituents will enable new business ideas to flourish right here in Naples. These students will have support of the university with formalized instruction while also benefiting from hands-on activities with real-world use cases. I can’t wait to see this next generation of students, developers and start-ups and how they will take Smart Country efforts even further in the future.

An evening in Naples

A great day ended with a great evening in the city of Naples. Agostino and the Cisco Italy team took me out in downtown Naples and treated me to some authentic pizza. And, when walking around the city we passed some students from the university who were out celebrating a friend’s birthday. They called out to me and Agostino and introduced themselves to us. They worked hard to earn their way into the University of Naples and were excited about the opportunities ahead. We took a last selfie together, which I’m including below. They were a true reminder as to what DevNet is all about… connecting the world to improve people’s lives and providing opportunities for our developers to be successful in their businesses and in their careers.

Susie Italy Team

Cisco Team celebrates success (left to right) Francesco Benuto, Giuseppe Cinque,
Agostino Santoni, Amadine Dubillon, Anna Ravelli, April Mitchell, Marianna Nicoletta Culosi, Kirsten Kuehl, Enrico Mercadante, Marianna Ferrigno and Ilaria Sanvito.


Susie Wee with students
Susie and Agostino with students from University of Naples Federico II 


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Susie Wee


Cisco DevNet Ecosystem Success