Cisco unveils business transformation suite for hyper-connected enterprise

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Cisco has unveiled a set of what it calls transformative technologies to help businesses push boundaries by “reimagining” applications.

Launching the products and services at Cisco Live in Barcelona, David Goeckeler, EVP and general manager, networking and security business​, said the end of the last decade was all about the rise of the application and the application economy, with every business a software business and mobile ecosystem, and data science coming to the fore in the journey to business digitisation.

The application was king said Goeckeler, noting that towards the end of the last decade, the infrastructure industry had started to keep up, and this decade would be about how these two worlds came together in a multi-domain architecture.

Cisco’s new offering encompasses technology to deliver visibility within the application, network and datacentre, both on-premise and in the cloud; an integrated container-as-a-service platform designed to simplify provisioning and ongoing operations for Kubernetes across cloud, datacentres and the edge; a security architecture for the industrial internet of things (IoT); developments in collaboration tools to transform the customer experience with contact centres; and better and more engaged meetings through innovations in artificial intelligence (AI).

Danny Winokur, SVP, AppD said Cisco realised that apps have moved from supporting the business to where they are the business. But this shift has put IT under pressure to  support constant change across multicloud environments as developers have to keep pace with the demands of experience-driven businesses, he said.

“Operating environments have become increasingly complex,” said Winokur. “How do we manage the complexity and constant change by making sure all of this remains flawless? But visibility of an application’s ability is not enough. You need to ensure you can prioritise what is important and eliminate the distraction of noise.”

The company’s new app dynamics technology is designed specifically to examine business transactions. It monitors key performance indicators (KPIs) for the technical performance of apps and correlates those to business performance metrics. It acts like the lens of a business transaction, providing a pathway to deliver outcome to users, said Cisco.

While existing dynamics technology has been able to pinpoint what has gone wrong at the back end of an application process, the new technology is designed to complement existing features by giving a view of the front-end process relating to an app, showing how the app is working, said Cisco. It uses AI to map the journey a customer would take when making a transaction, with the ability to gain granular insight into discrete processes, such as billing and discounts. This can potentially show where business is lost from where a customer ends a transaction and where and how any customer experiences issues are arising.

App proficiency is hugely important because the penalty for poor app experience is high. Cisco quoted statistics showing that 49% of app users switched to other suppliers of similar services because of poor experiences and 50% of users were willing to pay more for a digital experience that was better than a competitor’s. It was also found that a 100ms delay in a process could result in as much as a 7% customer drop rate in some sectors.

Recognising that optimising for such cloud-based working brings challenges regarding memory, storage and capacity, Cisco has also launched a workload optimiser that uses machine learning to pull in masses of data and streamlines it, so that information is computed right at the edge.

The functionality is also designed to make sure operational silos are removed and that app-building teams and IT departments work on the same page. Cisco said its HyperFlex application platform delivers an integrated container-as-a-service platform that simplifies provisioning and ongoing operations for Kubernetes across cloud, datacentre and the edge.

With its new tools, Cisco claims to be offering new means of communication in an information continuum across meeting types, enabling people to communicate with whatever tools they choose in what is described as an inclusive team space.

Specifically, the company has added new AI-powered voice intelligence capabilities to Webex Meetings with the option for global teams to choose whether their Webex Teams’ data will be stored in Europe or the US. It also announced the new Cisco Webex Room USB, an entry-level video device offering collaboration for smaller organisations.

Sri Srinavsan, SVP and general manager of Cisco Collaboration, said voice is the next frontier and, to that end, the new collaboration services have both transcription and translation capability. The new product also boasts a Spanish translation.

Srinavsan stressed that what is being offered are “enterprise-class” assistant capabilities based on work automation, and that it is “not Alexa”.

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