Jun 16 2020

Cisco Live 2020: CEO Chuck Robbins Praises IT ‘Heroes,’ Pledges New Focus for Cisco

With a new purpose statement on inclusiveness, Cisco announced upgrades to Webex collaboration and a new security platform.

In a world devastated by a global pandemic, rocked by social strife and straining under the weight of a major recession, it is the humble technology leader who has emerged as among the unsung heroes of our time — making remote work possible and ensuring that organizational operations can proceed under nearly impossible circumstances.

So argued Chuck Robbins, CEO of Cisco Systems, as he kicked off Cisco Live 2020, the company’s annual conference for users, partners, analysts and others — and this year, its first-ever all-virtual conference. Speaking from what appeared to be a makeshift studio at or near Cisco’s San Jose, Calif., headquarters, Robbins said IT leaders have been called upon to do more than they ever have before, literally keeping their organizations running during unprecedented times — and that they have delivered.

“In January of this year, as we started a new decade, we would have never imagined that by June we’d have experienced all that we have,” he said, adding that IT pros have surprised themselves with the degree of success they’ve had securely managing all-remote environments. “People have come up to me and said, ‘If anyone told me that we’d have 98 percent of our company running remotely in March and that we’d be doing just fine, I wouldn’t have believed it.’ But that’s what’s happened, and that’s because of what all of you have done. What you’ve done has been absolutely extraordinary.”

Cisco Adopts New Purpose Statement Built on Inclusiveness

This year’s virtual event, which is free to attend, has drawn more than 120,000 registrants, about triple the number who attended last year’s in-person Cisco Live in San Diego.

In his keynote, Robbins emphasized Cisco’s commitment to making a positive difference in the world, now more than ever. He said Cisco “put $2.5 billion into the marketplace for business resilience,” including a program that allows customers “affected by liquidity challenges” to forestall payments until January 2021 and gives organizations access to certain software programs at no charge; plus a range of charitable efforts, such as the sourcing and delivery of N95 protective masks and communication equipment to healthcare facilities.

It’s all part Cisco’s decision to change its purpose statement for the first time in decades. “We’ve been talking this year about what the purpose of the organization really is,” Robbins said, and they concluded that its longtime statement — “to change the way people work, live, play and learn” — has been achieved. Especially in light of a world in crisis, Cisco needed a new purpose: “to power an inclusive future for all.”

MORE FROM BIZTECH: What should businesses be looking for in the new security landscape?

New Cisco Security and Collaboration Upgrades Announced

To support that updated purpose, Cisco announced several new initiatives, solutions and upgrades to existing solutions.

Its Webex collaboration suite is being outfitted with its own personal digital assistant, modeled after the familiar PDAs on consumer smartphones. Just say “OK, Webex” during a meeting to have the assistant automatically do things such as take notes or set action items.

Webex also is being opened to more third-party integrations; for example, employees experiencing technical challenges with any business application can launch a trouble ticket through the Webex app via its ServiceNow integration.

Cisco also announced the launch of its new security platform, SecureX, which brings together all of an organization’s security solutions, including non-Cisco products, into a single dashboard, allowing IT managers to see and respond to threats quickly. The platform will be powered by Cisco’s threat intelligence service, Talos, but will also incorporate intelligence from other sources, including Cisco competitors.

“SecureX brings all of an organization’s security solutions together, provides immediate insight into threats and allows managers to block them throughout their network with just a few clicks,” said Gee Rittenhouse, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco’s security business group.

SecureX will be available at the end of the month and will come at no additional charge for customers who purchase any Cisco security solution.

To keep up with our coverage of Cisco Live 2020, bookmark this page, follow us on Twitter at @BizTechMagazine or the official conference Twitter account, @CiscoLive, and join the conversation using hashtag #CLUS.

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