Making the jump from generic outcomes to customer use cases
Living in the Northern Rockies, we have the privilege of enjoying all four seasons. This winter we enjoyed a record snow pack and fantastic ski season, with remnant snow piles still dotting the shady sides of many yards. Living in this climate every fall we are confronted with a barrage of adds warning us to prepare for the winter ahead. Everything from protecting pipes and roofs to of course tires for our cars and trucks. The tagline of ‘winter traction’ is often used in many local adds and it’s left up to us to decipher what that means for us and/or our particular families. Wouldn’t we rather not have white knuckle driving trips to the ski hills, or risk harm by sliding off the highway and being stranded in a winter storm?
In much the same way we at Cisco too often default to generic outcomes that fail to reveal the true value of our technology. Take our continuous innovations of hardware and software where often times we launch new feature packages that market the new capabilities that customers can utilize. We often leave it up to our sales and partner reps to connect the dots for our customers. Two great examples are IOS features such as Segment Routing and Encrypted Traffic Analytics (ETA). Both of these are inherent in our IOS code trains and deliver impressive capabilities. Left alone though – they are just that – features. We deliver a number of marketing assets, white papers, even hundred plus page Validated Design Guides on the implementation of these technologies. Our biggest gap is taking these outcomes beyond our standard reduced cost and lower total cost of ownership (TCO) punch lines.
Let’s look at these by themselves. Segment Routing has been around for quite a while but has recently just come into wider deployments in larger MPLS Networks. Segment Routing is differentiated by the source calling the shots on the path the traffic needs to follow. In addition, it can also encode a class of service. This gives network operators more control of their traffic and often times can be used to reduce latency. This is all great and points to lowering operating costs…. Again – we are missing the opportunity to bridge these technical outcomes to actual use cases. How about this: You are a global financial services industry and you are opening a new regional office in the Middle East. That being said, you are skeptical of any of your traffic passing through specific countries where geopolitical conditions are strained, say Iran or Russia?? With Segment Routing you can accomplish this from your headend in the US and ensure the path your traffic takes with a specific class of service.
Encrypted Traffic Analysis (ETA) was released with much fanfare as part of the new Catalyst 9000 Family. Again, the ability to monitor and detect potential malware in encrypted packets has a large benefit for any enterprise that is looking for an extra layer of security in their branch and/or campus networks, especially since anything encrypted in the past remained hidden from network operators. ETA enhances the deployment of Cisco Stealthwatch which also relies on NetFlow data that comes from our routing and switching hardware. Again – reduced complexity and TCO are the common arguments, but pair this with the scenario above and all of a sudden you have a compelling use case for financial services customers. You can talk about compliance outcomes or enhanced customer satisfaction among others. Together these features provide a layered security approach that of course helps control costs, but does so much more and we owe it to our customers to take this story to the next level! Happy Selling!