Waiting at Melbourne airport for 3 hours to board a 57-minute flight to Sydney after Cisco Live didn’t quite add up. But the event certainly did; it was great and very colorful. I’m still not sure if the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre usually displays that much orange, and if Cisco adopted the citrus hue to tone with it, or if in fact the organizers decked out the building to match Cisco’s theme. Either way, a buzz was in the air.
Rob Lloyd, Cisco EVP Worldwide Operations, kicked off the conference with a keynote incorporating global and technology trends. He likened the 1984 launch of the Macintosh to the way that technology is opening up ever-increasing choices, freedom and personalization. “With this launch, for the first time we had technology in which the user experience came first.”
Fast forward to today, add Internet and mobility, social media, entertainment and digital media, and as a result BYOD is on everyone’s agenda. Lloyd said this is the result of an outcry from users to unlock the consumer experience they value outside the workplace. Users everywhere will want applications on-demand provided via SaaS (Software as a Service), rather than the model of the past where business needs often change before software development projects are even completed.
He explained that the drivers for growth will come from emerging economies, the new consumers of the 21st century created by the mass urbanization of China and India, who will build cities of 10, 20 million and more. He added that the network is the enabler of the future workspace, and that video will account for the majority of its growth for business and consumers over the next few years. He predicted that a zetabyte of data will be moving across the world’s networks by 2016. That’s a billion terabytes, and UCS in the cloud will be a reality.
This will allow users to work from anywhere, using any client on any device. Workers won’t be prepared to wait four years for a locked-down Windows PC refresh that doesn’t even come close to what they have at home. And they’ll seek out their preferred working environments, choosing companies that offer more of the social and interactive engagement they enjoy outside the workplace.
But understandably CIOs see it differently, seeking business and technology alignment to gain economies of scale and achieve and maintain standards and security compliance. During a CIO panel session, where for at least one enterprise no network equals no sales, integrity and security are integral. To better understand and prevent attacks, one CIO expects to learn from this new generation of users. “We cannot be complacent; we want smart people who want smart debates,” he said, “For us, managing risk is everything.”
And as to the effect of this incredible technology growth and urbanization, the closing keynote for Cisco Live was delivered by Polar explorer, entrepreneur and environmentalist Robert Swan. He’s taken over 400 business leaders, teachers, students, entrepreneurs, CEOs and sustainability experts to Antarctica as part of his IAE (Inspire Antarctica Expedition), and during his global travels witnessed firsthand the polarity between those who have and those who have not. and the effects of developed economies on the planet’s precious resources.
At one point in his presentation Swan turned off the lights in the auditorium. “Imagine what it would be like in darkness,” he said. “This is how many in the world live, without electricity. But with urbanization this is changing; they see how you live and want what you’ve got.”
But isn’t all have to be bad news from the planet’s perspective. China is taking steps to pursue a climate-conscious path to development. “Sustainability in China, and arguably for the world, hangs in the balance, in how Chinese cities are designed,” said Clayton Lane, Global Lead of WRI’s Sustainable Cities Initiative. “China has a remarkable opportunity here to not repeat the mistakes made in the West.”
The reality lies somewhere between the expectations of the user, what the planet can maintain and what sustainable businesses need.