Lessons learned

Build capabilities to adjust dynamically to the changing business environment.

At Cisco, we’ve adapted in both our business and personal lives, whether it’s working from home or learning the new social-distancing norms. The COVID crisis highlighted needless complexities and processes within our business, such as an overabundance of in-person meetings. Using advanced technologies, we’ve learned and demonstrated that we can be effective without meeting face to face or sharing an office — even with kids and pets carousing in the background of our Cisco Webex virtual meetings.

Our expert opinion is that companies need advanced technologies not only to be resilient but also to seize the moment and advance their digital agendas. For example, we’re seeing strong ongoing interest in Cisco’s Digital Network Architecture (DNA), an intent-based network that incorporates AI, network orchestration and machine learning (ML) to automate administrative tasks.

The automation enabled by Cisco DNA Center gives operators the agility to deploy, provision, configure, activate policy for, troubleshoot and make changes to networks quickly, all in support of shifting business, user, application and security requirements. Currently, more than 350 customers have deployed use cases based on Cisco DNA Spaces that are directly related to COVID-19, such as contact tracing and building-occupancy monitoring. Today, Cisco DNA is live at 145,000 global locations.

Help customers and employees address immediate, imminent and ongoing challenges.

Communication is more difficult but also more critical when people are apart — and that goes for all stakeholders. Within our team, we talk a lot about how to communicate to customers during this pandemic. Our CEO, Chuck Robbins, demonstrated his understanding of the raw realities and concerns about today’s crises, offering tangible ways Cisco could help through technology, partnership and support. In a message to our customers and partners, Chuck highlighted no-cost access to Cisco Webex and security offerings to keep newly remote workforces up and running productively. During the early days of the crisis, many of our customers requested urgent assistance to accelerate major changes. This was especially true in the heavily impacted healthcare sector. For instance, our customer experience team helped the UK National Health Service (NHS) transform a 100-acre convention center into a new Nightingale hospital to address a critical healthcare shortage. Under normal conditions, this feat would have taken about a year to complete. But working as a team alongside NHS staff, military personnel, contractors, architects and engineers, we built this facility in just seven days. The cornerstone of this effort was Cisco Webex, which was used to help coordinate communication and collaboration across all the different teams — teams comprising many people who’d never worked together before. But come together they did, to serve each other and our communities.