Thriving in the Digital Age
President of Cisco Canada
We live in exciting times. Many say that the 4th industrial revolution has dawned, and that our role in society will change drastically in the next 10 years. I would argue the future is already here, and our role has already changed.
Previous revolutions made mass production possible, liberated humans from animal power, and brought on automation and digital capabilities to billions of people. Today, 76% of Canadians own a smartphone giving us all unprecedented reach and access. And, according to Statistics Canada, over 90 % of our population is connected, making us one of the most connected countries in the WORLD.
What does that mean? Change is the only constant and there is no stopping it. Also, it means that we are driven by different opportunities and concerned by a whole new set of challenges.
For one, there is pressure for businesses – big and small - to adapt to changing business models. Because in this digital economy, where over 80% of Canadians shop online, income accumulates in clicks not cash.
Second is security. Security is top of mind for any business in Canada, consumers, and across all government institutions. As more and more connected things come online, the attack surface is increasing and attackers are getting more sophisticated. In 2017, 51 % of Canadian firms saw cyber security incidents, which slowed down their business operations up to 20 %. The recent example of an Ontario based non-profit organization hit close to home. The ransomware attack hit their network and encrypted almost all their servers leaving them without access for 3 weeks. Lesson learned: no one is immune.
Third, increased expectations from customers. In a world of vast choices, more than we ever thought we wanted or needed, customer experience is everything. I’ll repeat, customer experience is everything. In every customer meeting I’ve been to with C -level executives, all of them are thinking about how to enhance their customer experience to attract and retain customers. And employees’ expectations have also increased. In Canada, 70% of millennial workers would rather telecommute than come to the office. It’s not only a cost saving measure, it’s an incentive. The reality is that only a small portion of businesses offer this “perk”. I’d expect that number to be 100 % for Generation Y.
Finally, do more with less. We are all given more to accomplish with the same or less resources to work with. Increasing productivity is a critical aspect to capitalize on the growth opportunities we are seeing in the Canadian economy. An economy that has grown 3.1 % last year and is projected to continue growing above the 2 % mark this year.
What’s common across the board is that digitization is the underling accelerator of all these changes, and in some cases the main cause. The rapid pace of change is the new normal and, if you want to compete and stay relevant, you will have to keep up and innovate faster.
In Cisco Canada, we have been working hand in hand with our 1,600 partners to help lead digital transformation for all our customers and to build a solid digital foundation that is fundamental to the survival and growth of their business. We provide an end to end platform – from security, automation, cloud optimization, data insights and enhancing employee experience and productivity – that will future proof our customers’ business. And we do it in the way our customers want to consume it. However, central to all of this, is building a foundation that will unleash the full potential of PEOPLE and empower them to thrive in this new era.
I started by saying our role has fundamentally changed, and it has. As more and more connected devices come online, the sheer complexity will require machines to run machines. That leaves us with an immense opportunity, as humans, to focus on something more vital than keeping the lights on: INNOVATION. What makes us and will continue to differentiate us from machines is our ability to imagine, create, and innovate. We did that in the last 4 industrial revolutions and will continue to do that in the next 4 - but at an accelerated speed. At Cisco, we truly believe that technology is the agent that will accelerate human progress, impact, and empower people to achieve more. I invite you all to join Cisco on this journey and stand with us at the intersection between human progress and technology. Because technology alone is an enabler but PEOPLE will drive the transformation.