Cisco’s Role in Digital Transformation

NOV-DEC 2017|BY BUSINESS PARTNERS
Antonis Tsiboukis, General Manager Greece, Cyprus and Malta at Cisco talks about digital opportunities, cybersecurity, the positive impact of digitalization on communities, and Cisco’s role in digital transformation.

How would you describe Cisco’s role in digital transformation?

At Cisco, we have been shaping the future of the internet for more than 30 years for our customers, employees, partners and the wider community. Our people, technology and partners help society securely connect and seize tomorrow’s astonishing digital opportunity today—over 80% of the world’s internet traffic runs on Cisco’s network. And more than ever, we are committed to playing a key role in today’s digital market transition. We are innovating and partnering to harness the astonishing value creation opportunities digital adoption presents for government, business and local communities. Our involvement in the digital transformation arena is focused on five strategic areas:

  1. National infrastructural development
  2. Entrepreneurship and business creation
  3. Social innovation
  4. Business and technology innovation
  5. Corporate citizenship

In what ways do you support these digital opportunities?

Underpinning this is our extensive partner ecosystem, government and public/private partnerships, and our products and services (with specific vertical/geographic/technology focus), as well as our own digital transformation.

Our role in digital transformation is pragmatic. The network will be the foundation of digital transformation, and nobody can securely connect the unconnected like Cisco. By building a more intuitive network, we are creating a secure and intelligent platform for today and for the future, one that propels businesses forward and creates new opportunities for people everywhere.

Our goal is to build on our immense partner ecosystem to provide the IoT, cloud and analytics platforms to derive value from the data and connections. We partner with governments and businesses to build the technology skills and engines to drive global economic growth, and we look at ways to build non-profit solutions that use technology to address social and environmental challenges.

Our aim is to be the most relevant, most important partner for our customers as they enable their digital businesses. Our vision and promise to our customers, however, is even more ambitious: We want to connect everything to make anything possible.

Is security a critical issue?

The future is digital. However, many businesses are reluctant to digitally transform citing security risks as a key concern. PwC’s 19th CEO Survey (2016), titled “Redefining business success in a changing world,” found that 61% of CEOs said they are worried about cyber threats, and we know that cybersecurity threats have become more prevalent, complex, targeted, and persistent than ever before (see Cisco’s 2017 Annual Cybersecurity Report).

In today’s hyper-connected world, every company is becoming a technology company, which means that every company needs to have security high on the boardroom agenda. Organizations that make cybersecurity a critical foundation for their digital growth strategies will accelerate innovation and time to market.

As security is the most sensitive and most critical component of digital transformation, many industry analysts now agree that security challenges can only be solved from the network, as it is the only place where people, processes and data collide. As the world’s largest networking company and the #1 security vendor, Cisco is best placed to provide the network platform and comprehensive security portfolio to meet today’s security challenges for government and business.

What differentiates Cisco and enables it to meet today’s security challenges for government and business is its “build, buy and partner” approach. Cisco invests significant sums each year in research and development, with a total investment of US$6.3 billion in R&D in FY16 alone. Cisco has also build new security services such as Talos, the world’s largest threat intelligence and security research organization with Security Operations Centers in Poland, Japan and Mexico. Over the last three years, Cisco has also invested in best of breed technologies, services and security professionals. To simplify, integrate and automate security, Cisco also partners with hundreds of technology and services companies.

What are the societal benefits of digitalization?

As digital disruption is transforming the way the world operates, we believe that technology can help the world solve its greatest challenges and improve the way we live. Government and business leaders, for instance, now recognize the tremendous economic benefits digital transformation holds; digital adoption is an opportunity to address GDP growth and job creation, and it can drive efficiencies, competitiveness and innovation on the local, regional, and global stage.

To make these opportunities a reality, two years ago, Cisco launched its Country Digital Acceleration Program, the only global initiative of its kind with the breadth and scope to drive economic growth and create next-generation jobs through digital adoption at a country level. In less than two years, 14 countries have partnered with Cisco to implement its CDA program, including 11 in EMEAR. As of May 2017 these include: China, Italy, France, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, Qatar, and the United Kingdom. Discussion is underway to include Greece as well. To date, over 200 CDA initiatives are underway, and over 80 of them are taking place in CDA countries in Europe and the Middle East.

Similarly, we believe technological change and rapid digital adoption can bring astonishing social benefits as well. Over the past 20 years, Cisco has trained nearly 2.4 million people in computer networking skills in EMEAR through its Networking Academies (27 active academies in Greece). It is imperative that further investments are made in skills and talent globally to deliver on the unprecedented opportunities that the digital transition presents. Cisco is committed to continue to partner and innovate with government and higher education institutions to create a workforce that is educated in the latest technologies and practices, such as IoT, and is capable of driving digital transformation. Today, 403,400 students are studying at more than 5,000 Networking Academies across 61 countries in EMEAR.

Cisco is also committed to partnering and investing in innovative, early stage non-profit solutions that use technology to address social and environmental challenges. And our 13,000 plus employees in 61 countries and 114 cities, along with our 12,000 plus partners in EMEAR, are making this happen. For instance Cisco’s CREATE lab has partnered with CONSERVE (a project co-funded by Innovate UK, the UK government’s innovation agency) to look at IoT to analyze, predict and co-ordinate first responders in disaster situations, such as floods. The platform draws down huge amounts of information from numerous sensors and sources, and smart algorithms are being built to mine the data, aiming to predict flooding events. In France, through Cisco’s Switch-Up Challenge, French startup Handisco has developed an IoT walking stick to help visually impaired people navigate around their communities (2017).

What is Cisco’s latest announcement for the new network?

Cisco recently unveiled intent-based networking solutions that represent one of the most significant breakthroughs in enterprise networking. The introduction is the culmination of Cisco’s vision to create an intuitive system that anticipates actions, stops security threats in their tracks, and continues to evolve and learn. It will help businesses to unlock new opportunities and solve previously unsolvable challenges in an era of increasing connectivity and distributed technology.

With the vast majority of the world’s internet traffic running on Cisco networks, the company has used its unique position to capture and analyze this immensely valuable data by providing IT with insights to spot anomalies and anticipate issues in real time, without compromising privacy. By automating the edge of the network and embedding machine learning and analytics at a foundational level, Cisco is making the unmanageable manageable and allowing IT to focus on strategic business needs.

At the core of all this is trust. The new network is a fully integrated, single system that is both intelligent and highly secure. Businesses can trust that the right best practices, based on decades of network experience, are in place to automate the network. Businesses can trust that the network is constantly learning and evolving to detect issues before they happen, while providing actionable insights to resolve them on its own.

As we move into this new chapter of intent-based infrastructure, our intention—my vision—is to deliver a truly secure and intelligent platform for digital businesses to bring greater value to our world. We believe this foundation will serve as the basis for how our customers will reinvent their futures.

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