Cisco is known as many things: the market leader in networking, collaboration, security and other markets. The company is also widely regarded as a thought leader in both the enterprise and service provider segments. Investors consider Cisco to be strong, stable stock. Much of your opinion of Cisco depends on the lens through which you look at the company.
Cisco should also be known as being a great citizen of the world because of all the good work its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team does. Using the company’s massive resources to make the planet a better place was always a passion of former CEO John Chambers and that’s carried over to current CEO, Chuck Robbins. Its Networking Academy has educated millions of people across the globe, including many in underdeveloped nations, giving people an opportunity to get jobs and be successful.
Chambers was often quoted as saying there were two great equalizers in life: the internet and education. Cisco was instrumental in building the internet and had a passion to help educate people.
Global education training
That has been particularly beneficial to women in countries where it’s very difficult for females to get jobs because of culture. For example, in Saudi Arabia 30 percent of women looking for work are unemployed and 78 percent of those have university degrees. A Cisco certification from Networking Academy can expand the job search opportunity greatly. Cisco certification is globally recognized and can often lead to jobs with foreign companies that want to hire remote individuals. As far as I know, Networking Academy is unique and there is no other global education training program that has impacted as many lives and careers as Cisco’s.
I’ve always had a tremendous amount of respect for the work Cisco CSR does and was pleased to see the group get some main stage time during Robbins’ and CMO Karen Walkers’ keynotes. They discussed all the good work the group is doing and how Cisco is trying to build a culture of becoming a global problem solver that can help solve some of the world’s biggest challenges, such as getting medicine to remote locations, helping refugees, and educating people in underdeveloped nations. Cisco’s stated goal is to positively impact the lives of 1 billion people by 2025.
Assistance efforts around the world
CSR also had a presence within the show. There was an area set up for any attendee to help put together meal kits to be distributed around the world to help fight hunger—part of Cisco’s partnership with Stop Hunger Now. Last year, 100,000 meal kits were assembled at Cisco Live. The goal for the 2016 show was to assemble 200,000 of them, as well as 5,000 hygiene kits.
CSR was also prominent in the World of Solutions (WOS) exhibition area, which is where attendees see all the latest and greatest technology from Cisco and its technology partners. CSR had its own booth complete with a Network Emergency Response Vehicle (NERV) truck.
In the truck, I had an opportunity to talk to with Sue-Lynn Hinson, who manages the Cisco Tactical Operations (TacOps) team. TacOps sets up highly secure communications on the ground for first responders, government agencies and relief organizations during emergencies. One example of the work TacOps does: It put up Wi-Fi networks and charging stations along migration routes so refugees can contact loved ones.
Hinson told me it’s been a busy year for TacOps, as the group has been supporting Syrian refugees; Nepal residents, who are still feeling the effects of the 2015 earthquake; and Vanuatu, which is recovering from Cyclone Pam.
One of the more interesting pieces of technology TacOps had on display was an inflatable satellite dish (pictured below). This folds up small enough that a TacOps person can fold it up and carry it with him on a plane. This type of satellite dish allows people to establish instant communications. Also, it can continue to operate after several bullets have hit it, making it ideal for hostile areas.
Cisco also set up in the CSR area “global problem solver” wall where attendees could go pick different stories to see how Cisco is trying to change the world. The wall is in alignment with the branding campaign of “Never Better,” as the motto of CSR is that there has never been a better time to change the world.
Some of the things on the problem solver wall:
- How telepresence saves lives
- Mobilizing refugees in Europe
- Benefits of women in IT
- Text messages creating social good
- Transforming rural healthcare
- Overcoming poverty in Africa
Cisco CRS is run by Tae Yoo, senior vice president of corporate affairs. I had the opportunity to catch up with her during the analyst program, C-Scape. It’s clear that changing the world is a passion for her and is something that drives her.
Most of the CSR activities do not lead to any revenue, and the group has no quota to meet. The group’s sole goal is to make the world a better place, and I was delighted to see it so well represented at Cisco Live.
I hope Cisco continues this, and I urge other technology vendors that have CSR programs, such as Microsoft and Oracle, to follow a similar path. I would also urge customers to consider the contribution a vendor makes back to the world part of their decision making criteria when deciding who to partner with. With all the terrible things going on in the world today, don’t we all want to make it better?