This week, I’ll navigate Davos with hundreds of global business and government leaders to tackle the opportunities and obligations we have to improve the state of the world. The theme for this year, “Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” could not hit closer to home. Klaus Schwab of WEF has defined the Fourth Industrial Revolution as the “fusion of technologies across the physical, digital and biological worlds, creating entirely new capabilities and dramatic impacts on political, social and economic systems.”
These conversations about the almost infinite potential of technology are ones we have on a daily basis at Cisco. We believe in the power of technology to transform industries and lives, and we see it moving faster every day. Our conversations, however, go far beyond the technology. They are about the people, the relationships, and the trust necessary to execute against the opportunity in front of us.
Even in a digital world where machines can now learn on their own and mimic our intelligence, it is still about people. It is people who build and benefit from the technology, and it’s also people who must adapt in order to participate in this world where technology is pervasive across every aspect of our lives.
We have much to learn from the past three industrial revolutions. In each case, the disruption of the various industries has led to a disruption of the workforce where new skills were necessary for economic survival. Often times, the reskilling of workers lagged far behind the revolution, creating significant societal challenges and even leaving much of an entire generation stranded. I know we can do better this time. In the last year, we have committed – together with the local leaders – to train nearly one million new students in countries around the world such as France, Italy, Australia, India, UK, Saudi Arabia and Germany. These public-private partnerships are immensely powerful – a country can lower unemployment while creating new, higher value jobs, and a company can address talent gaps in critical areas and train a loyal base of future employees. The time to move is now, the opportunities are significant, and the obligation is ours.
Another important focus area is the significant global shortage of security talent. As technology connects everything, the amount of data generated is growing exponentially – and it’s only going to increase. In this new world, data becomes one of the most critical assets that any organization has, and we need to start thinking of it relative to its importance to our future. This data is incredibly important, therefore protecting this data is more critical than ever.
This opportunity is not lost on attackers either, as their methods have become more sophisticated to capitalize on this data. Conversely, businesses are struggling to keep pace with the rapid advancements of cyber attacks. According to our 2016 Annual Security Report, only 45% of businesses reported that they are confident in their ability to determine the scope of an attack and remediate the damage. The potential risk of loss from these ongoing threats can be staggering to customers — upwards of $575 billion dollars.
As we think about this new world, and the interwoven systems that are being created, a new level of trust is required — beyond anything in our history. We must trust the systems that manage and process the data, the people and partners who access the data, and the fundamental technologies and processes that protect the data. We expect there will be approximately one million cyber security jobs available around world without enough talent to fill them. This is our opportunity to make sure that we give people the necessary skills to make the leap into the security market, and why we are announcing a new $10 million Global Cisco Security Scholarship. This is just a start to help us educate, train and reskill the job force to be the security IT professionals needed to fill this vast talent shortage.
As our week in Davos kicks off and we have important conversations about how technology can help tackle the world’s greatest challenges, we must remain focused on people, and we must do everything in our power to build an ecosystem of trust. If we successfully navigate these two challenges, we will collectively experience the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.