Remember the lonely Maytag repairman, just sitting around waiting for something to break? Those days of break-fix service models are over. Today, technical and professional services have become central to every aspect of most companies’ operations. That’s because businesses today rely more and more on complex technologies that power digital transformation through every aspect of their operations—from supply chain and manufacturing to business operations and customer service. In fact, through 2020, half of IT services growth will come as a result of digital technologies.

As more and more devices and processes become digitized and connected, businesses are having a harder time finding skilled workers who can help move these digital changes forward. Organizations require new kinds of IT services to help them deal with 21st century complexity. They need help accelerating digital transformation and scaling it in their operations. And they need IT services to keep them operating efficiently, reliably, and securely.

When companies run on digital technology, they can’t afford system breakdowns. If the network goes down, their ability to conduct business comes to a halt. Remember the huge airline computer outage in May? It grounded flights and stranded passengers for two days.


That’s why the first “must” for 21st century services is to be proactive and predictive—heading off potential problems before they happen. Companies need the ability to sift through huge amounts of data, analyze patterns and behaviors, and make predictions about possible operational problems (or opportunities). With this capability, business leaders can make informed decisions and take timely action. Imagine the money, time, customer aggravation that could have been saved if the airline that had such a crushing outage in May had been able to see its system failure coming in time to prevent it.

Second, 21st century services must be able to manage complexity in a heterogeneous environment. Businesses need IT services that can bring together the many different architectures, vendors, tools, and technologies that have grown up across their organizations over time. For example, different lines of business within a company may have multiple cloud solutions supporting a variety of functions. Or an Internet of Things (IoT) deployment may connect everything from sensors running semi-proprietary protocols to operational networks, all the way to the enterprise data center and the cloud. And it all has to work together, seamlessly and reliably.

Finally, today’s IT services must provide a comprehensive, risk-based approach to security. By 2020, 60 percent of digital businesses will suffer a major service failure because their IT teams were not able to effectively manage digital risk. With increasingly sophisticated global attacks, security must be built into every aspect of digital and physical operations. While it is impossible to completely eliminate threats, we can mitigate their impact by actively managing security measures before, during, and after attacks. And while the network may widen the threat surface by connecting an ever-wider collection of devices, it can also act as a defense. In fact, Cisco’s built-in network security blocks 20 billion threats a day.

IT services have become central to digital business success, and I’m happy to say that Cisco Services is leading the field in 21st century services. And we don’t stop with these three “musts.” Customers in the 21st century also need help with automation, optimization, orchestration, and skilling workers. Unlike that Maytag repairman, we have plenty of work to do—helping customers create extraordinary results through our expertise, innovation, and solutions.

What are your company’s service needs for the 21st century?


Joe Cozzolino

Senior Vice President

Cisco Services