CISCO Live: Investing in Australia’s Future

Ken Boal at Cisco LiveCisco VP for ANZ, Ken Boal has spent time with the press corps on the state of Cisco and their investments in Australia.  The following is my live blog of the session.

Boal notes that Cisco had to change the business to get through the $50bn revenue ceiling. He says the company had a healthy paranoia about becoming the next Kodak in the face of emergent cloud tech. They went through a global business optimisation process to transform speed of IT as well as operatios architecture. They had a very good supply chain system, but improved on process. But the biggest area of improvement is in development. 70% of the workforce for CISCO are now in development. And the culture of the business was changed towards speed, while the acquisitions strategy has reflected this speed of IT focus.

Good news is that the results are in. SDN overhang on the stock market price is mostly removed, and stock valuation is around the $150bn range. Globally and localy there has been a return to growth.

On the business vision side, the focus is on digitisation. Cisco has signed a lighthouse agreement with Adelaide to develop a smart city in Australia. The smart city concept is essentially focused on wiring up a city in terms of wi-fi infrastructure. But the reason for the choice of Adelaide was that the state had the greatest vision for sustainable city development and urban planning and infrastructure. They also want to invest in IoT infrastructure in agriculture, mining, etc, as a means of improving productivity.

The question Cisco is exporing with customers is, “how do you do SDN and what’s the 3-5 year journey?”. Cisco has been part of the problem with over-complication of systems for acess to data. Now they are going back to simplification and automation of systems to ensure ease of access. How they deliver information securely within the network is a priority for the business.

Cisco believe that IoT will unlock the next phase of productivity for Australia. They want to focus on biotech, biomedical, agriculture, gas/resources, mining service and more. They are presentign themselves as a trusted strategic partner to support economic and social policies.

The new Centre for Innovation will be split between Perth at Curtin Uni and the offices at Sirca in Sydney. Cisco is also investing directly and indirectly in startups, including a major investment in Blackbrd Ventures. But they note that to build a highly skiled productive and competitiove 21st century workforce to capture the opportunities of the next wave of transformation. Cisco now wants to train another 100,000 students in STEM at schools-universities. And finally, they are working on a mentoring program for young STEM students across a range of universities. They are also interested in solving the problem of collaboration between universities and business – a major challenge but something that is working better in the US and UK. (JJ’s comment: I think I should be helping with this!)

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