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Ian Thompson

CLUS: A Business Development Guy in an Engineer's World

Two months ago, I received an email from my boss stating I would be attending Cisco Live in Orlando, FL. I remember the exact moment of receipt and the coinciding excitement and trepidation I felt because Cisco Live is a summit of some of the smartest minds in the world (I guess my boss thinks pretty highly of me!). After reading the bio of the celebrity keynote and theoretical physicist, Michio Kaku, I feared I would spend the week as dazed and confused as I was going through Orlando’s airport. Fortunately, that was not the case. 27 miles walked, 16 meetings and around a dozen new LinkedIn connections later, Cisco Live is a wrap! Here’s what I learned:

  1. 1). The Human Network matters
    The idea of the “human network” is something Cisco launched as a marketing campaign in 2008, and it has now evolved into somewhat of a mission statement for the company itself. The idea is a simple one: Networking is more than switches and routers. It is people and communities. And when we are all properly connected, wonderful things happen. This is the spirit of Cisco Live, and is something you can see happening around you and feel in the air throughout the show. This energy of the show grows naturally as over 20,000 like-minded people look to reconnect with old friends and establish new connections that will expand their network in the future. The conference content did not disappoint (and is available online if you’re looking to recap), however it was the connections I made and the experiences I had (wandering through Diagon Alley in Universal Studios in the pouring rain…) with those individuals are truly priceless.

    What’s more impressive is Cisco’s transmission of this effect into rest of the world. They have taken the vision of the human network a step further in the form of the Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, as highlighted in CEO Chuck Robbins’ keynote Monday morning. Robbins described this as “how the company and its ecosystem can help to solve the world’s biggest problems.” Cisco is looking to help the industry itself through an initiative called SKILLset, which seeks to reskill 1 million non-technical workers with IT skills, to offset job displacement.

  2. 2). The future is cloud(y)
    If you have ever traveled to Orlando during the summer, you know what I’m referencing! Every day is gorgeous until about 4pm, and then the rain clouds roll in…

    The biggest announcement of the week came during Monday’s opening keynote where Chuck Robbins share the details of a partnership with Google, which will give Cisco customers the ability to seamlessly transition applications to the cloud. In an interview on Tuesday, Chuck Robbins further elaborated on the partnership, "The network plays a tremendous role with security, with policy and actually allowing our customers to make that happen and that's what we talked about this week."

    Cloud integration and multi-cloud security were at the forefront of almost every session and discussion at Cisco Live. As Cisco looks to simplify IT, I see cloud integration and multi-cloud security holding the key.

  3. 3). CLUS, the waiting game
    Whether it was a ride at Universal, the line at lunch or waiting to talk to the product specialist on the World of Solutions floor, I learned through experience that the best things in life and at CLUS take time. This idea was further expanded upon with David Goeckeler’s keynote on Tuesday morning, where he highlighted the next phases of the Intuitive Network with the “Assurance” piece, which ensures that the intent-based features of Cisco’s networking portfolio are working as intended. When the Intuitive Network was announced 2 years ago, it was a big idea. Now, it is a reality that will transform the way we view hardware.

  4. 4). “Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength”
    As a business development guy with a marketing background, to say some things this week were a little over my head would be an understatement. Cisco Live is a conference designed for engineers, so why wouldn’t it be? Cisco makes some of the greatest technology in the world, and there were no shortage of things to “geek-out” over.

    As Amy Posey encouraged us to do in her eye-opening Neuroscience session, I embraced her challenge to view the world through a different lens in hopes of expanding my own knowledge base and comfort zone.

    I am happy to report that she was on to something.

    While I may not have understood the inner workings of Sachin Gupta’s DNA Center demo, or have been able to follow along with all the World of Solutions demos, embracing the challenge of learning new things from an engineer’s point of view proved to be a worthwhile challenge and one that I will apply to my work in the future. Understanding the way things work allows us to better position and train our customers on them. Seeing the synergies between Cisco’s solutions allowed me to draw connections between products so we can develop true solutions for our customers instead of positioning point products. I am better for it.

With that, I headed home to Greenville, SC. Back to apply and share my newfound knowledge, perspective and connections to further our Cisco practice at ScanSource and improve our customers’ experiences. We will see you in San Diego next year!