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September 13, 2011

Cisco News - Cisco's Pennell Keynotes ITEXPO West: 'It's All About Creating New User Experiences'

By Peter Bernstein, Senior Editor

The title of the speech was “The Right Network Changes Everything.” It could have been “It’s All About Creating New User Experiences. 

Ian Pennell, senior vice president of Small Business Technology Group for Cisco (News - Alert), as highlighted by my colleague Paula Bernier’s article, kicked off the first day of ITEXPO (News - Alert) in Austin, Texas, detailing how a perfect storm of change and convergence -- networks, devices, storage, apps and user requirements -- is not only enabling dramatic change, and how providing businesses with the right network could accelerate these changes. 

Areas stressed as being in essence revolutionized, or accelerating the revolution, include small and medium businesses (SMBs), wireless, universal and visual communications. However, while attention has been rightfully paid to the impact of all of the technology changes that are going on in an unprecedented manner simultaneously, Pennell’s biggest focus was on creating new user experiences. 

Pennell was quick to point out that convergence is fostering new ways for businesses to drive creativity, productivity and customer intimacy and thereby enriching the way people interact with each other. He stated that the era of speeds and feeds (“build it and they will come”) was about technology’s ability to accommodate growing traffic requirements. However, we have now entered an era, as a result of mobility and the need for better collaboration and knowledge transfer through visualization (video), where the focus must shift to technology with intent. In fact, he believes that one of the big changes going forward will be a focus on capabilities that are “purpose built.”

A level set on where we are and are heading          

The drivers behind the need to build not just a big and fast network but the right network are compelling. Research is telling Cisco, and everyone in the industry, where we are and where we are heading and doing so rather quickly and in many ways disruptively:

As Pennell said, “It is clear that mobility is the driving force behind change in the future.” He was clear that building the right network means traditional mobile networks that are built for voice are going to have to integrate the need to be not just high-speed but adapted for the myriad of bandwidth hungry apps, and leverage the unique capabilities of other wireless and wired resources. This is why the traffic off load and cloud friendliness parts of constructing the right network going forward are so critical.

The case for how building the right network to facilitate collaboration using UC and video is seen in the numbers above. The demand is there, but the question is if the industry will move to not just accommodate it but serve as an accelerator.  

In what was a telling slide, Pennell presented the Cisco view of how the right network, aimed at solving pressing business problems and facilitated through the more intimate relations with trusted local partners, is also going to change the nature of UC and video and thus enable entirely new ways for businesses to be more efficient and effective through the delivery of new experiences.   

The first and last points about being purpose built and having a trusted relationship with local experts was telling. It speaks to two themes that have already moved to center stage at ITEXPO whether the topic has been mobility, UC, telepresence, cloud or a host of opportunities.

  • One size does not fit all, i.e., you need to have intimate knowledge of your customer and be able to rapidly, securely and reliably meet (better yet, exceed) their needs.
  • The era where the large enterprise was the driver of change and the early adopters is over. SMBs by virtue of several factors are the markets to pay close attention to. The reason was driven home in the following:    

In short, like Willy Sutton opined as to why he robbed banks, “because that is where the money is,” SMBs represent where the growth is. As a result of mobility and the Web, SMBs are the most intense users of new technology. Plus they have an imperative, especially now in difficult financial times, to be proactive to get business. They can’t do it without help.   

In recognition of this, Cisco is not only using technology to enable new end user experiences, through its new Cisco OnPlus Portal, and OnPlus Agent, it is provisioning its local channels to provide the kind of expertise and scalability in order to meet the needs of a dynamic market, which has a high need for a sophisticated consultative local partner.

Pennell’s message was that the purpose of all of the needed changes in the network was from a business perspective to enable businesses to create new experiences for their customers that could create and sustain competitive advantage. He could have added a caveat. Without a reinvention of the entire ecosystem of how solutions are delivered and executed, and the creation of the right ecosystem that enables new business relationships, we will not maximize the opportunities that are heading our way. 

Pennell pointed out that we are in the midst of a perfect storm of change. He was right on two fronts, technology and the relationships between all members of supplier ecosystems, and how they in turn relate to their customers. 

Watch this space for continuing event coverage. These are powerful themes, and how others in our panels and keynotes address them is sure to create a lot of fascinating discussion.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2011, taking place Sept. 13-15, 2011, in Austin, Texas. ITEXPO offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. To register, click here.

Peter Bernstein is a technology industry veteran, having worked in multiple capacities with several of the industry's biggest brands, including Avaya, Alcatel-Lucent, Telcordia, HP, Siemens, Nortel (News - Alert), France Telecom, and others, and having served on the Advisory Boards of 15 technology startups. To read more of Peter's work, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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