Last week, I attended Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona. Coincidently, the conference lined up with the Copa del Rey tournament game between Real Madrid and Barcelona. I have been a soccer (futbol) fan all my life: playing, coaching, and watching. After spending several days absorbing all that MWC has to offer, a few of the Cisco team settled into a local cantina to experience a local futbol experience. I had never seen so many Messi shirts in one place before.
The fans were passionate. The teams had grit. We soaked in the experience, completely entertained. Barcelona prevailed 3-0 in the end. A near hat-trick for Suarez was prevented only because one goal ended up credited as an own goal for Real. Not until the plane ride home did I connect that this had some poetic relevance to our time here at MWC.
There was passion. All week long, the conference floor was bustling with mobile networking fans. There was grit. Over a strenuous week the team really went “the full 90.” We soaked in the experience… completely… exhausted (and entertained). In the end, after months of hard work, the final “score” for the Cisco staff would read:
- Hundreds and hundreds of phenomenal customer meetings
- Dozens and dozens of investor and industry analyst meetings
- 29 demos ranging from sustainable wireless connectivity to 5G beyond the city (our 5G powered drone Demo with Orange was so well received that even the King of Spain was inclined to visit!)
- 9 announcements on partnerships with customers: Sprint, Rakuten, Verizon, KT, TIM, SoftBank, Telenor Group, Bharti/AirTel, and Google Station.
- 1 “must-see” keynote of Chuck Robbins with Rakuten’s CEO Mickey Mikitani. Together we will build a cloud scale network that is 5G ready and improves operational expenses. This network will be fully virtualized from the radio access to core and automated end-to-end.
The sheer volume and density of face-to-face engagements with customers, partners, press, analysts, and investors is one of the greatest benefits about attending an event like MWC. These authentic collaborations and conversations that took place last week were driven by our innovation portfolio. Some of the exciting new products and/or solutions we announced at MWC include:
- Cisco Unified Domain Center enables Enterprise IT departments to seamlessly manage all policies, security, and services in the mobile network as if part of their existing LAN/WAN.
- Cisco NCS 5500 High-density 400G line cards enable massive scale to meet the demands of 5G and deliver investment protection for the widely deployed NCS5500 router family.
- Cisco Ultra Cloud Core with CUPS (control user plane separation) is the industry’s leading highly secure, full-featured packet core platform that unifies 3G/4G/5G/IoT/Wi-Fi connected services.
- Cisco Crosswork Cloud delivers cloud-based services that provide rich analysis of network data to deliver insights for network operators. Cisco Crosswork Trust Insights is an example service that reports on the integrity of devices and delivers advanced forensics for assured inventory.
- Cisco Crosswork SON (Self Organizing Network) uses machine learning and subscriber-level analytics to react faster to network issues and even predict potential issues for the RAN.
- Crosswork Data Gateway collects data and telemetry to enable Crosswork Cloud services.
- Crosswork Optimization Engine provides real-time analysis and optimization of SDN transport for optimal performance.
- Cisco Trusted Platforms provides a critical element to establish trusted network infrastructure.
- Cisco Umbrella Mobile Protect delivers network-enabled security at scale across all devices and all generations, using Cisco industry-leading threat intelligence.
- Cisco committed five billion dollars in 5G funding over the next three years to help service providers transition to 5G
Beyond external business engagements, MWC was a perfect opportunity to address internal industry issues at scale too. Between challenges and change there is a “Bridge to Possible”, and that bridge requires acknowledgment, conversation, and progress. Throughout the week at MWC, Cisco participated in three significant diversity events:
- Women4Tech: Two of our Cisco executives participated in coaching and mentoring of over 130 women in less than two hours! These speed sessions revolved around mentoring the participants on core strengths and sharing actionable tips to navigate their career goals.
- W4Tech Summit: Kishen Mangat, our VP/GM of Mobile Business, discussed how the industry must transform corporate values and culture to embrace diversity for business success.
- Diversity in Tech Reception: Cisco hosted close to 100 customers and colleagues in a night of dialogue to elevate diversity in the workplace. At the reception, Chuck Robbins announced Cisco’s continued commitment to sponsor diverse talent by taking the multiplier effect pledge!
Barcelona is a lovely city. Even more so if you are a soccer/futbol fan like myself. MWC was definitely a grind, but in the end, a major success. I appreciate the time our customers took to stop by our booth and for their great partnerships. By my count, Cisco scored three major goals that week: one with our customers, one with our innovation, and one with diversity for the industry. A rare hat trick earned by the countless people at Cisco behind the scenes who give it their all every day to make it all happen. I am honored to have the opportunity to attend.