Using Existing Technology to Safely Return to Normal – Futurum Tech Podcast Interview Series

On this episode of the Futurum Tech Podcast – Interview Series, host Daniel Newman is joined by Scott Harrell, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Intent Based Networking Group at Cisco to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the enterprise introduced by the pandemic and how existing technology will help us safely return to normal.

In our conversation, Scott and I explored the various challenges — both obvious and less obvious — that enterprises have experienced due to COVID-19. Companies have struggled with how to move entire workforces home, dealing with connectivity and security issues while trying to ensure business continuity. Now, as countries and states are lifting restrictions, companies are trying to figure out how to reintroduce the workforce to the workplace safely and securely.

Scott shared that many companies will likely still have to figure out how to support a partially remote workforce with some employees on-site. And all of these issues are still changing as restrictions and COVID-19 cases around the globe are still in flux.

Greater need for agility. Scott shared his thoughts on how organizations have been put to the test with COVID-19. Many IT teams discovered that they aren’t as agile as they thought which will likely lead to greater investments in automation and analytics to help companies rapidly adapt in similar situations in the future. People’s perspective on how fast they need to pivot and manage things at scale will fundamentally change after the pandemic.

Safely return to normal. Scott and I discussed how companies will use technology to improve trust and get employees back into the workplace safely. The great thing is the technology already exists. Wireless devices connected to networks can be used like giant sensors to track where employees are in the workplace. Scott spotlighted Cisco DNA Spaces, a mobility solution that provides location-based services including behavioral insights that can be used to monitor and manage a workforce re-entering a workplace.

This app could act as a contact tracing program if needed and alert employees to avoid certain areas if a breakout was to happen. It’s also scalable and could work for any workplace regardless of size — a huge plus in our current situation. But the main takeaway is that we are going to have to iterate and learn as we go.

Opportunities for the IT department. We also discussed the shifting behaviors within IT departments right now. Many have taken the opportunity to reskill, retool, and retrain during this slowdown. There’s lots of potential to leverage the capabilities of intent-based networking. We both are guessing we will see lots of innovations built on connectivity and compute going forward and we haven’t fully unlocked the potential of the network. The companies that are accelerating the move to intent-based networking will likely emerge from this pandemic stronger than before.

What Cisco has learned. Lastly, Scott and I took a look back at the last few months and what Cisco has learned from this crisis. Scott was especially proud of the evolution of interaction between the leadership team and the employee base. The need to over-communicate with employees has never been greater, but that communication has been human and not solely focused on the business and the technology.

Cisco is consistently ranked one of the top places to work and after hearing that, I can see why. I always say that company culture is part of how a company adapts, how agile they are, how they move forward in development and it’s clear that Cisco makes their culture a priority and that positively impacts the workforce and the community as a whole.

This was a great interview and one you definitely don’t want to miss.

You can grab the audio here:

This podcast is part of a special series focused around what leaders and companies are doing to help employees and customers deal with COVID-19. Be sure to subscribe so that you don’t miss out on amazing insights.

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Image Credit: Cisco


Daniel Newman: Welcome to the Futurum Tech Podcast. I’m your host today, Daniel Newman, Principal Analyst and Founding Partner at Futurum Research. And very excited to have an insider edition today, the Interview Series of the Futurum Tech Podcast with Scott Harrell of Cisco. Scott, welcome to the Futurum Tech Podcast.

Scott Harrell: Thanks, Dan. It is awesome to be here and I’m super excited to have this conversation.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, I’m real excited to have you on too. For everyone out there listening, today is the 13th of May. We are in Day 1,000 of the shelter in place. No, not really. It just feels that way for many of us who have been at home for a long time. But hopefully if you’re out there and you’re listening, you’re safe, you’re well, you’re enjoying a little bit more time at home. I know I spent 47 weeks a year on the road, and being at home for two and a half months straight has been by far, the longest period of time in the better part of the last two decades that I’ve been at home. Realized I really like my house and I really like my family. Scott, how are you hanging in there?

Scott Harrell: I’m about the same Dan. There’s been some awesome up sides of getting to hang out with the family. I would say for the first time, probably in a decade, I’m actually ready to go get back on a plane, get crammed into a seat, have bad food, and have a bad night’s sleep. It’s the first time I can remember looking forward to that in a long time.

Daniel Newman: I love that you say that. Someone asked me that just the other day. They said, “How long is it going to be before you get on a plane?” And I go, “Now.” I go, “Drive me to the airport. Put me on.” But I’ll wear a mask. I’ll be considerate. I’ll buy a couple of seats if I have to. I’m okay with some of this distancing and I’m okay with public health being a priority. I think that’s a really important thing. But at the same time, I’m also really, as a small business owner, I’m encouraged to see some progress, safe mitigation. I have a lot of faith in humanity and people to take some of these restrictions seriously, and I think we’re slowly but surely going to get there. But yeah, I can say I am with you Scott.

I think what I’ve learned from this whole thing, and before we get into talking about enterprise tech and networking, just personally what I’ve learned from this whole thing is I could do with about 50% of what I used to do for travel. I do enjoy being home a little bit more. I’ve enjoyed spending more time with my family. I’ve enjoyed a few more dinners in my house and a few less nights in hotels. But I still have come to realize I do miss events. I miss travel. I miss the dinners. I miss a good glass of wine or a good cup of coffee with someone that we work with or someone that we’ve gotten to know over the course of our career. I think for me it’s balance. I think it’s really going to be balance is the big learning personally, from this whole COVID-19 experience. I don’t know if that’s kind of like you said, you’re ready to go. But I don’t know if you felt that at all, but that’s kind of where I’m at right now.

Scott Harrell: Yeah. I think that’s a great way to express it, Dan. The reality is, is my job, I want to talk to customers and there’s something about face to face that video can’t quite always replicate. Same with my teams. Sometimes I just want to go meet with somebody, even if it’s just for coffee, and that’s hard to do right now and doing it responsibility. That’s something I miss personally and I’m certainly looking forward to getting back to, absolutely.

Daniel Newman: Well if you’re listening to this in the future, hopefully we’re past this and maybe you can do a quick beam us back and tell us, when did this get a little bit more normal. But if you are listening to this now, like I said earlier, hopefully you are staying safe. Scott, your time is valuable. I know you’re busy running a really important part of Cisco’s business so I don’t want to take all of our time talking about this personal part of it. I want to get into the enterprise networking discussion with you a little bit more. But really quickly, go ahead and just introduce yourself and your role at Cisco so everybody out there knows a little more about what you do day in and day out there.

Scott Harrell: Thanks Dan. Yeah, I’m the SVP GM for the intent based networking group. What this is at Cisco is it includes our enterprise networking business, that’s the campus and the branch, as well as our data center business from a networking point of view. All the things that you connect to, whether it’s wireless, whether it’s switching and run your apps, that’s kind of what’s in my team and what my team drives for Cisco.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, and that’s a big job at Cisco. The SVP GM positions are, primarily a lot of them, I know you’ve had some reorgs lately, but roll up to the executive team have a really big breadth of responsibility. Your part has been for a long time a very significant component of Cisco’s overall business. By the way, I do miss Cisco events. I missed the Analyst Summit. It’s always such a good one. I’m kind of bummed out, but I think we’re going to do something during Cisco Live digitally, quote unquote.

Let’s talk about challenges in the enterprise though. There’s a lot going on right now. We’ve talked a little bit about our own challenges here, but you’re seeing a lot of challenges that enterprises are facing right now, between working from home, et cetera. What has kind of caught your attention during this current pandemic of some of the biggest enterprise challenges?

Scott Harrell: Yeah, I think some of them are fairly obvious. It’s the how do you transform from a place, a work style, where everybody’s in the workspace to one where now everybody’s distributed? And that’s been around maintaining communications, maintaining work. I think some are less obvious. When you look at the infrastructure and what it’s done to the infrastructure from a load point of view, you’ve seen huge amounts of increasing load on things like VPN gateways, things like how we actually have to provision remote workers, especially ones that maybe have special needs. You think about contact centers, where you have people that need to be able to answer calls in professional manner. You don’t necessarily want to hear that their bandwidth is bad or that that call can’t go through or the quality’s bad. Making sure you can have that business continuity despite the challenges you have and you can keep the workers productive is what we see a lot of enterprises struggling with.

I think the interesting thing now though is as we kind of turn into May, you kind of highlighted this Dan, is now people are facing the second challenge, which is how do I start to reintroduce people back into the workspaces? And how do I do that safely and securely? That’s the latest one that we’re starting to have a lot more conversations about. People actually got most of their infrastructure scaled out stable, figured out how they’re going to handle security policy, figured out how they’re going to connect people, all these kinds of things. And people made their makeshift home offices, which I’m sure we’ve all done. And now people are working on, okay, I want to reintroduce the workforce, but I want to do it in a safe manner. How do I do that logistically? How do I monitor and manage that on an ongoing basis? Especially because it’s going to be dynamic.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, it is going to be dynamic and I think it’s going to be geographic. It’s going to have huge interdependencies on technology. It’s going to be about infrastructure. It’s going to be about fabric, things Cisco is broadly working on with the future of the internet, the expansion of technologies like 5G, rural connectivity. Cisco’s workforce hardly all resides close to an office and the company benefited in many ways that there has been some facets of the workforce that has worked remote. There were some policies in place and there were some capabilities. In your organization, there was somewhat an expedited pathway. It was certainly imperfect across every organization, but there was at least kind of an understanding of how to help people work remote.

I just think about places, we talked earlier about traveling, Scott. I go to Europe for instance, and I’ll just use an instance. I go to Mobile World Congress everywhere. I’m in Spain, the speed of their internet connectivity is nothing like the speed of our internet connectivity in your average hotel, in your average rental apartment. They’ve got WIFI and it wouldn’t be sufficient for the workplace. While in the US here, for instance, in a lot of metropolitan areas and urban areas, we have decent broadband and somewhat good high speed connectivity that’s accessible. And I would say relatively affordable because that really depends on your individual position. For workers having high speed, whether that’s fiber or good broadband at home has made some of this possible. It’s made this conversation using video right now and looking at each other and doing it in real time work pretty well. But you go somewhere where you’re still dealing with a slower connectivity, connections, working isn’t going to be so easy. I think you really do bring up a much more significant problem and that’s just connectivity.

And then what about things like security. VPN access, SD WAN, how quickly can you deploy that? Make that a viable for employees to utilize? Get those tools out there? And then, like I said, make sure there’s enough connectivity. It is a lot more complicated. I think sometimes when you’re urban or you’re close to an office or you have lots of access to connectivity, this is, oh, it’s easy. I’ll work from home.

You heard Twitter yesterday, Scott, we’re going to work from, everybody can work from home forever. That’s what the company said yesterday. That only works if everyone in your organization has great technology in their home and has a ton of access to connectivity. And I don’t think that’s necessarily the way the world works when you get beyond really big tech in the Valley.

Scott Harrell: I think the interesting thing with Twitter is, I don’t know how many people have been to San Francisco or actually seeing the houses and the apartments that, I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of employees who are living in a 1,000 square foot apartment, or maybe sharing a smaller space with three or four people who are not going to necessarily want to work from home for forever. They’re not structured to do that. And I do think infrastructure both from a space as well as from a connectivity point of view are a challenge. When you think about what we’ve seen with stuff like video, it’s interesting everybody’s using video. Even my mom now that I could never get to necessarily want to use video is like, “Hey, let’s do a Zoom call or let’s do a WebEx call or let’s do a FaceTime call.”

And so that’s not going to go away. And what you saw in home infrastructure was that the upstream bandwidth actually became the constraint. Downstream for most people in the US and even abroad was okay. But it was that upstream where the connection wasn’t really built to handle millions of these types of video chats, high def video chats, all simultaneously where you’re seeing stress. The same thing is going to happen when you come back into the workspace, everybody’s going to have the same expectation. They’re not going to want to be gathered in conference rooms around each other. And they’re going to need more upstream bandwidth to handle that. To handle those high depth video connections from every desktop. And that’s where you’re going to see technology evolution happen at a faster pace in some regards. Some things like WIFI 6, which is now becoming very mainstream. I think the use of technology like video pervasively will help drive the consumption of that.

The other thing we’ve seen from IT teams in general is they’re really interested in that. They’re thinking very sophisticatedly, but they’re basically saying, “Hey listen, this was a great exercise in some ways of where our stress points are in our organization.” And what they found, a lot of them found is that they don’t have the agility they need. And when I’m talking about agility, it’s this idea of how do you allow like a massive shift in the business quickly? And today it’s about coronavirus, but in the future, it could be about a business model shift. It could be about the next great wave of innovation, whatever it could be. It could be another crisis. And what a lot of IT teams found is that they need to invest higher in automation. They need to invest higher in things like insights and the ability to use analytics to rapidly adapt to any kind of new challenges and new transformations.

And I think that’s one of the other interesting things that we’re going to see out of this is people’s perspective on the rate of change and on how fast they need to be able to pivot and how they need to manage things at scale is going to change fundamentally. How they use cloud and how they use on prem. All these different technologies are going to be rethought in the context now, forevermore of what happened in COVID-19.

Daniel Newman: Yeah. You bring up some great points there. I sort of heard you allude to the flexibility or agility that’s going to be required. The uptick, as we sort of emerge from this, there’s going to be more need for automation. There’s going to be continued growth in analytics.

The data deluge will continue, which will put additional stress on systems. You also alluded to the remote workforce a little bit and supporting the employees that do come to work. And I’d be interested in you digging into that a little bit more because even as we do return to work, and we kind of talked about this, the workplace won’t look the same. I remember huddle rooms were this really cool thing for a while. Putting a bunch of people in a really small space and having them do meetings.

Scott Harrell: It’s hard to it virtually.

Daniel Newman: That can’t possibly survive this. We’re going to see things change. Even as we do want to get back into the office, and I think people are by nature, Scott, social beings. They are going to want some interaction and video has a nice intermediary for now, but I think after six months, three months, we’re all ready to go out and shake a hand and hug someone. And now again, that may change. But as we get back in the office, how do you see technology and some of the stuff that you guys are working on impacting the return of people to work?

Scott Harrell: Yeah. It’s a great question. How do you provide the safety and trust that all employees need, but also get back to business? And I think there’s a lot of different things I’m seeing out there right now that are really interesting. And everybody’s learning. Everybody’s iterating. There’s a lot of work on applications that you can post on your phone and you can use technology like Bluetooth to connect to the phones and understand proximity to people and do things like contact tracing. That’s definitely one method that’s interesting. You got to download an app and you got to opt into that. But I think that has a lot of potential. And there’s a lot of great work that Google and Apple have done down that path. There are other methods though, to help people be reintroduced safely. And I think, Cisco’s invested in some of these as well.

And one is you have existing infrastructure. You have a great data source that already is latent in your environment, which is the wireless network. If you think about you change your mind from wireless APs from being just connectivity devices. And instead of also being giant sensors that are spread across your entire environment, you can start to use that wireless infrastructure to help manage this as well. Most employees, auto-associate with their corporate WIFI when they come in and now you can start to track their behavior over time using the wireless network. And we’ve invested in this in a technology called DNA Spaces. But basically what we can do is within 30 minutes, we can get it up and running on your WIFI network, understand not just the classical things that enterprises would use like badging rates, but actually understand how.

Which doesn’t really tell people how long somebody’s lingered in the building or where they went in the building, what floor they were on, what conference rooms they went to, but actually give that next layer of intelligence back to the enterprise to manage it, but also use that same tool to message back to the employees in the contact flex experience where I can actually send messages to you, tell you if there has been an infection in the building. If so, what the current protocol is. Like don’t go in conference rooms, don’t go in the cafeteria, whatever it might be. I can start to do all those things and I can do them remotely. And I can do them at scale across the entire enterprise. Maybe I want to have people rotate it in for only four hours at a time. And I want to see how well the workforce is compliant. Or I want to have only X number percentage of my building filled at any given time.

I can start to do those things. There’s some of these tools that are out there that are already pervasively in our enterprise, like wireless, that we can actually use to help solve this workplace re-introduction problem.

Daniel Newman: Yeah. And there’s some parallels there because this works beyond the enterprise. This could be the way retailers could approach data and information to keep stores safe, restaurants. You can do it on campuses, universities, because we have a lot of introductory challenges as people start to come back. The beauty of what you’re saying is this is technology that exists in almost every modern organization at some level.

Scott Harrell: I don’t know about you but you mentioned you have kids. My kids, the first thing they do when they go anywhere is look for the WIFI network. And what’s the password.

Daniel Newman: Absolutely. The only thing that’s kind of strayed eventually, our kids away is as are our LTE and 5G has gotten better, the need to connect to others’ networks. But I would say, if you think about the challenges and dilemmas right now, it’s not so much, it’s really about mitigation and distance. You want to bring 25% of the workforce back. You mentioned there’s people in San Francisco that don’t have the technology. They don’t have the tools. Just the isolation is probably causing productivity lag. You want to give them the option and say, “Hey, come back. But we can only introduce X percentage of the work.” It’s going to be a very careful predicament and people are going to want to feel that it is being done very safely and it can be done in a successful managed way. Both government is going to want to know this as well as people. The technology is an enabler. And I think a lot of people don’t realize just how good this technology can be and just how ready it is to start to be deployed for many organizations who have made these investments over the past few years.

Scott Harrell: Well, and you mentioned the challenges with sometimes wireless is not going to be a perfect solution for certain scenarios. Absolutely. And that’s where other technology can come to bear. Cisco’s invested heavily in video cameras that our Meraki’s division makes. What’s cool about these is they actually have localized analytics so we can do things like count people. We can do things like interface with other systems that have built applications specifically to kind of help with these kind of problems. And so that’s where I say, it’s probably not going to be a single technique that’s going to satisfy you globally. Especially for large scale companies. You’re probably going to use a different technique for where the knowledge workers are and where the employees are versus what you might use in retail or what you might use in a university setting.

And it’s going to be one of those things where we’re going to have to iterate. We’re going to have to learn, but there’s actually a ton of technology there to help this problem. And I know our team’s working on it and I’m sure other teams around the Valley and around the globe are working on helping this. And that’s one of the things that I’m really encouraged by is I’m already seeing some awesome ideas come out and some awesome product come out to help with this.

Daniel Newman: Yeah. The sophisticated enterprise network is likened to a microcosm of the smart city in many ways. It’s like the little tiny smart city for each individual enterprise. You also spoke earlier about something I’d like to get a little more from you on, and that’s the IT department. The IT department was not built in most cases to manage what they’re managing today. What do you see as sort of the shifting behaviors of preferences, focuses, investments of IT in a post COVID or I wouldn’t even say in the transitional COVID to the post COVID era?

Scott Harrell: Yeah. I think there’s a couple things. When I think about IT in general, there’s actually an opportunity for a lot of these IT organizations in the near term to actually rescale, retool, retrain. And we’re seeing a lot of IT organizations take this time because maybe for some that we’re working on the VPN head in, it’s been a whirlwind, but for some others that maybe maintained the campus network, there’s actually been some downtime. And so we’re seeing them to take that opportunity to rescale themselves. And I think that’s super cool because if they’re able to actually come forward and leap forward and actually start to treat the network as code, to start to actually leverage all the new capabilities that are there, that are built around intent based networking and allow the automation analytics to become part of the business processes, I think the potential is enormous.

If you think about kind of what a lot of the innovation in the world has been built on, it’s been built on two major venues. It’s been bets on connectivity or the network itself, whether that’s to IS and SAS clouds or whether that’s just internally to allow people to consume technology locally. And it’s been built on compute. And every time we get a new server out, every time we get a new laptop, what happens? You instantly, the applications instantly start to consume all the capability on that server or laptop. But the network itself, there’s actually been massive innovation over the last 30 years, but I would contend that we have not as an industry and as a community, we haven’t done what we need to do to fully unlock its potential. Lot of companies still only use five, six features of what’s possible in the network.

And if we can move to this new world, that’s highly driven by automation and analytics, what it allow you to do is much more sophisticated things with a network and what that’ll unlock for businesses is I think that’ll unlock a whole new wave of productivity, innovation, things that they’ve never been able to do before. They’ll now start to be able to do by leveraging that combination of network and computing. And I think that’s what’s exciting to me is will this at the end of the day, because of the retool and because of the stress it put on the system, because of the fact that it’s going to change the way that people think about the flexibility and agility they need, will this accelerate that move to a more intent based network? Will it actually allow therefore the businesses to get more out of it? And will that actually drive the virtuous productivity cycle?

That’s what I’m hoping happens out of this. I’m always trying to be optimistic that there could be a silver lining to this. Because sometimes it feels pretty dark these days. Now we’ve got murder hornets and whatever, so it’s like, my daughter was telling me, it’s definitely feeling like the apocalypse. But hopefully we’ll come out of this stronger and we’ll come out of this even a better kind of a world around IT and around networking. And that’s what I’m hoping happens at least.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that’s the best way to function right now. If we look only at bad news, what do they call it? It’s like spotlighting. We can tend to find the information that supports the view we want. If we want to have a more positive view, we can seek out that kind of information. If you want to see all the doom, there’s plenty of that out there as well. But I do think you’re right. There’s a significant opportunity right now for the organization to invest in employee up skill. Of course, every company is in a unique situation. Some have more resources, some have more capacity, some have more bandwidth, some have to be in a more of a survival mode. I would say in all cases, technology is a bridge right now. It is a bridge to help companies, whether that’s improving customer experiences, that’s more rapid deployment of information, leveraging automation, AI, and ML to streamline business work and processes.

You mention a lot of good things and I think that’s really important. I’d like turn back here at the end and get a little bit more from you about Cisco and what’s going on in the company. I participated early on in one of Chuck Robbins’ executive briefings, where I got to hear about the COVID response. This was much earlier in the process when people were much less informed. I thought from the onset, Cisco was very proactive, making their public health, their doctors accessible to the workforce, trying to provide lots and lots of information. But now there’s been more time to digest. There’s been more time to ingest, digest and start to think and ponder. Through your lens, what would you say Cisco has learned from this experience of going through this pandemic, which is the first of its kind in more than a 100 years and certainly the first in the modern internet era?

Scott Harrell: Yeah, it’s a great question. And I think one of the things that’s been really interesting is as the evolution of the interaction with Chuck and his leadership team with the employee base. I’ve never been prouder to be a part of Cisco then to see how transparent the leadership has become as a result of this. They had a need, to your point, now then to communicate with the employee base and to make sure that they were giving them information. We had a town hall that was called, I think it was posted an hour and a half before they actually started it and we have tens of thousands of people attend because there so much hunger for this kind of communication and information.

And, I think when you look forward, what’s happened over time is that’s become a regular cadence where every week Fran who’s our chief people officer and Chuck are driving communication out across the company about what’s going on and providing that interconnection.

But they’re also providing in a very human, a very real way that’s not necessarily all about business. And I think that empathy has shone through and it’s really changed the conversation and the connection with a lot of employees. And I think that’s one of the things that’s been so impressive about this as far as what did you take from it that’s good? Is I think that connection’s stronger than it’s probably ever been. And probably as we look forward, we got to think about, we’re not going to, hopefully we’re not going to always be in this situation as we look forward, how are we going to maintain some of that connectivity that’s not just about the business and technology, but it’s actually about the broader person, the broader whole, even as we roll forward?

Across the customer base and across the employee base as well, across everybody we need to interact with. And that’s what I think is going to be the interesting evolution for this. Because I can’t imagine that’s just Cisco. I imagine that’s going on with other companies as well. And I think it would be very healthy if we figured out how to maintain that even post COVID.

Daniel Newman: Yeah. I think you bring up a lot of great points. Cisco has built a long term reputation of being a company you’d want to work for. A company of compassion, best places to work. I believe number one last year. Of course, every employee is going to have their own experience, but that’s an encouraging inside out approach. As a tech industry analyst, I look at that closely when I’m analyzing a company’s ability to develop products and services. As an author, by the way, that also has written books on digital transformation, I’ve explored the importance of culture and the impact on the ability for companies to change and that impact isn’t just small. It is significant. The fact that the culture understands adaptability and agility tends to find its way into innovation and R and D and product development as well and expands beyond the organization.

I’m encouraged to see what companies like Cisco are doing. We’ve done a few podcasts in the past where we’ve talked about the company’s response, but millions of dollars in goods, services delivered to those in need. To communities both locally and beyond. And I’ve really loved as a whole, Scott, and maybe as my last little question for you, but I’ve really been super impressed by the solidarity of the technology industry in coming together, bringing resources, putting people first and innovation being put to use to solve these problems. And while I love competition, I’m big on that, I imagine you’ve been watching it too. It’s been pretty encouraging to see.

Scott Harrell: I think what’s been super cool for me is how individuals within the teams actually surfaced ideas and drove them. And so this is one of the things that I’ve always loved about Cisco is nobody’s necessarily going to tell you yes, but nobody’s going to tell you no either.

They’re going to let you run. And there have been individuals who have come forth with ideas and driven them and made them become the champions of them, something that can actually be adopted by all of Cisco. We had a sales leader who decided, hey listen, we need a brokerage so that we can, all the different industry teams can connect with their spare network and kit to the healthcare providers around the world. And he said, “You know what? I’m going to go build that.” And he just made it happen. And I was super blown away. I was super impressed by his just effort and his ingenuity to do it.

And then same thing happened when we decided we wanted to give away equipment. The people got really resourceful and we know a lot of the healthcare professionals need things like remote communication devices, like a DX80. And so the people went around the campus and actually scrounged spare ones from people’s desks that aren’t being used and actually shipped them out. And then people built on that idea and they went and found the equipment and actually recruited equipment from my team to go help clinic stand ups, popup clinics. And we’ve now serviced hundreds of those where we’ve kind of given them connectivity, which is, you can’t do these popup clinics, you can’t do these kind of micro offices if you don’t have connectivity. It’s foundational and they helped go make that happen. And so, it’s just been awesome to watch employees kind of rise up of all different stations in the company and lead this and teach all of us kind of a new way to do this and teach us some ways that we can impact the community.

I think that’s probably been the most inspiring thing I’ve seen. It’s great to see the companies collaborating, but I think it’s the individuals within these companies that are leading the charge that’s just been super awesome to watch.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, what a great pivot on even what I said. And it’s so neat that you had the chance to see that. We got to wrap up here, Scott. I really appreciate you being part of the Futurum Tech Podcast Interview Series. Appreciate Cisco for being a great partner and contributing to this series. If you want to learn more about the COVID response and the overall enterprise and intent based networking part of the business that Scott’s responsible for, hit our show notes. There’s a link in there and you can hit the link, learn more about it. Like I said, company’s been doing a lot of things. Very interesting. Very interesting response. But for now, for this particular episode, I got to say goodbye. Hit that subscribe button, come back, tune in with us again for our regular weekly show or for more fascinating interviews with executives from across the tech industry. Futurum Tech Podcast, got to go, we’ll see you later. Bye bye now.

Author Information

Daniel is the CEO of The Futurum Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise.

From the leading edge of AI to global technology policy, Daniel makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology investments. Daniel is a top 5 globally ranked industry analyst and his ideas are regularly cited or shared in television appearances by CNBC, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal and hundreds of other sites around the world.

A 7x Best-Selling Author including his most recent book “Human/Machine.” Daniel is also a Forbes and MarketWatch (Dow Jones) contributor.

An MBA and Former Graduate Adjunct Faculty, Daniel is an Austin Texas transplant after 40 years in Chicago. His speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.


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