Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Interview with Cisco: Making Innovation Work in a Downturn

By Dan Keldsen - Co-founder and Principal at Information Architected

In this latest podcast, IAM Talking with Carlos Dominguez, Senior Vice President in Cisco’s Office of the Chairman of the Board and CEO.

Carlos has worked at Cisco for 17 years in a variety of roles, and advocates for the broad and creative use of technologies that are transforming how companies do business, creating distinct competitive advantages and new business models for those who adopt them.

Dominguez says that video, Web 2.0 applications and the increasing use of social networks, at home and at work, are at the heart of the collaboration revolution that is helping companies use the power of collective intelligence to produce revolutionary ideas for new products, better customer service and greater cost reductions.

For those who attended the FEI Boston show in May this year, you might recognize that is directly an area that I was covering in my presentation "Do you have the strength for Innovation in a 2.0 World?" (details and bonus content available)

It was a sincere pleasure of speaking at length with Carlos, and for my part, I believe we had a stunning array of innovation and collaboration-related tangents that emerged, which I believe are well worth paying attention to. Not your average interview, by any stretch.

A sampling of the highlights until we have a transcription ready:

Social networking and open innovation:
How did Journey find the next replacement singer after languishing for years with the missing voice of Steve Perry (lead singer) in the late 80s? YouTube and social networking located a replacement singer from... well, you'll have to listen to find out.

Virtual meetings and worlds:
Cisco is not immune from the worldwide dip in the economy, has taken steps to ban all large scale travel for their sales meetings, executive meetings - at a 10x cost reduction (minimally), and with no perceived decrease in the richness or validity of the outcomes. What is the role of telepresence? Gaming as a competitive driver for salespeople? Take a listen.

Culture:
To paraphrase Carlos, "most great innovations are killed within organizations... as they are threats to the existing business... and the Cisco culture is specifically built and tested to prevent potential ideas from being killed"

Cisco has a requirement for executives and managers each quarter, or at the least, yearly, to indicate exactly what they are doing within their business unit to Innovate (BIG I in my vernacular or "disruptive innovation" to some) versus innovate (small i or improvememt) within their areas. How does this compare with YOUR organization?

Healthcare:
What is Cisco doing themselves, internally, to innovate in the health and wellness of it's own employees as well as their families? and what has the impact of that investment been?

And much, much more in this slightly more than 30 minute interview. We had some issues with Skype introducing noise into the system, but keep your ears open for some fantastic points on the state of Innovation within Cisco, Cisco's customers, and what Carlos' experiences in seeing and working with some of the most cutting-edge technologies available, make possible.

Find the IAM Talking Interview with Cisco: Making Innovation Work in a Downturn at InformationArchitected.com.

Any and all feedback welcomed - and if you have an innovation story that needs to be shared, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Carlos can be found as @carlosdominguez, and as always, I'm @dankeldsen.

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