Cisco Connect 2014 - Takeaways

Yesterday I attended Cisco Connect 2014 here in Toronto. This was their 12th event, and it sounds like this was their biggest to date. Sure looked packed to me, and a good sign that Cisco is doing its fair share of business in Canada.

Analysts and media were on a track of our own, so the day was pretty structured. The opening talks were similar to last year, but this time around we're pretty much being told that IoE and IoT is the future, so get ready. The Internet of Everything sure sounds ominous, and they're expecting the world to have 50 billion "people, processes, data and things" connected by 2020.

Well, if that doesn't make us really smart, I don't know what will. There's ceratinly an opportunity here, and lots of business to be had from "connecting the unconnected". What that opportunity really is, nobody knows, but it will be big. The number Cisco is putting out there is $19 trillion - too big for me to comprehend, but we're talking about a new world order after all.

Just to clarify, however, this isn't a spending opportunity - it's "value at stake", and primarily represents cost savings from doing things more efficiently. Still, it's another big transformation that's very much underway, and it was correctly noted that some big names out there will go away but new leaders and industries will emerge.

On a local level, we heard a lot about what Cisco Canada is doing to drive innovation here, and they're making good on initiatives we heard about last year. There was a well-done video illustrating how technology is being used to deliver telehealth and education to remote communities in the Far North. Closer to home, the innovation hub is going to be built here in Toronto, and they are seeding research chairs in the higher education sector to get more kids going into science/technology studies. Financially, they'll soon be announcing initiatives about how they're working with the VC community to help foster startups and entrepreneurship in our space - definitely something we need more of here.

We also had a guided tour of the show floor, with lots of focus on the cloud and data centers. Not too many phones, but lots of video/collaboration tools along with security offerings. Aside from that, everywhere you turned, there was something about their role in the 2015 PanAm Games which will be held in the greater Toronto area. These mega-events are great technology stages for the likes of Cisco, and prime opportunities to show us why IoE is the next big thing.

As a sidebar, if you only want to think locally, the PanAm organizers looking for 20,000 volunteers, so if you want in, Cisco Canada can get you in touch with the right people. That number isn't quite 19 trillion, but it sure shows that we need a lot more than technology to get big events like this done. My toaster may soon feel empowered to talk back to me, but it won't be much good helping people find out where the ping pong matches are being played - leave that job to us humans - it may be the only job we have left.  :-)

Exec keynotes from Nitin Kawale and Rebecca Jacoby

Rowan Trollope demo'ing the SX10 - small scale out-of-the-box telepresence for about the same price as a decent HD TV - I'd say they've really got it right with this one. Would you buy telepresence from this man? I would.