Getting up to speed with Cisco's 5G architecture
If you’ve ever been around a computer or any everyday IT system, you’re probably no stranger to Cisco. Founded in 1984 in San Francisco, it is the worldwide leader in technology that powers the internet. What that means is that everything from reimagining your applications, securing your data, transforming your infrastructure and empowering your teams for a global and inclusive future warrants a varying degree of involvement by a solutions provider like Cisco. Cisco is a market leader in advanced technology solutions for Enterprise, Service Providers and Cloud, helping their customers and partners to achieve their intended business outcomes. As Verizon builds its 5G network, Cisco continues to act as a trusted partner.
There are many benefits of 5G. With innovation and investments across silicon, optics, software, and systems, Cisco is evolving how service provider networks are built to maximize operational agility and help enable a competitive advantage to future proof network and cloud infrastructure. Speaking on the extent of implementation, Bob Everson, Cisco’s Senior Director of 5G Architecture says “5G is not a singular technology. For us, it's really important that we take a systems approach on the components that deliver a 5G system, but then also look at the whole ecosystem of the applications and the users, and how all that ties together.”
Cisco’s relationship with Verizon goes back nearly two decades, and to date is one of Cisco’s strongest partners globally from a go-to-market standpoint as well as from a network standpoint. Cisco and Verizon collaborated on 4G and LTE services and now are working together as Verizon builds out their 5G network services.
Being a pioneer in 5G technology and applications, Cisco focuses on maximising the use of technology to improve business operations for its customers in order to deliver tangible results. Cisco inspires new possibilities by reimagining applications, securing data, transforming infrastructure, and empowering teams for a global and inclusive future.
Everson states that although 5G is the future with its endless possibilities, it also makes systems vulnerable to a degree of threat. For a number of clients, 5G is not simply an additional layer of technology that brings about high speed, low latency and reduced risk. Instead, it is an integrated system that needs to sit inside the existing operation, and so one of Cisco’s key tasks becomes developing a holistic approach in understanding these operations and providing solutions that predict and prevent any threat.
Speaking in conclusion on the application of 5G across different operations, Everson adds that organizations will see an increasing overlap in environments between enterprise and direct consumers, so having a protected connection and an infrastructure built to last will and should be any organization’s top objective. As organisations look to the future of work and move to a more hybrid work model, service providers must ensure that their customers are well-connected wherever they are with multiple levels of security and have a seamless environment to operate within.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.