“Your mission is to connect the North”

This is the challenge given to the students competing in the Cisco Social Innovation challenge at the national WISE conference hosted by the University of Toronto chapter.

There are many challenges in providing education and healthcare in the Canadian North, as my colleague Jeff Seifert has discussed, and we asked students to propose innovative technology solutions for them. Think of it like “Dragons Den” for Social Entrepreneurs.


Cisco Dragon judging team (L-R): Deepika Jacob, Tracy Chen, Leila Reyhani, Morgan Alexson, Melanie Miller, Lynn Silkaukas, Jessica Miller, Lisa Hunter, Mike Doering, Yuri Safariants, Trina Alexson, Carol Dennis, Brenda Buck, Samantha Yiu, Liz Cacic, Alice Okundaye, Remi Ferres, Allan Alfonso, Anirudh Iyer

It was an eye-opening experience for the students. Many were surprised by the degree of the geographic, infrastructure, and cultural challenges they faced in coming up with their solution. On the positive side, they were surprised at the type of Cisco technologies that already existed and could be integrated into their solution. Continue reading

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How Video Conferencing Delivers Education and Mental Health Care to the Arctic

The territory of Nunavut, Canada is incredibly cold and remote. It’s roughly a four-hour plane ride north of Toronto, with temperatures well below the freezing mark for eight months of the year, dark in the winter months and light all summer long. The communities in the north face unprecedented challenges. The school dropout rates average around 75% by the time students hit Grade 8. There is high incidence of youth mental health and suicide – the highest in the world. And yet, there is much hope and potential in this corner of our planet.  And a deep, rich Inuit culture and tradition that informs us all as Canadians. When Cisco Canada set out to build a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program for Canada – it didn’t take long for us to connect the dots and understand the vital role we could play in bringing much needed services to our most remote communities.

On April 2nd, Cisco Canada will launch Connected North, a program established in 2011 to do just that,  leveraging our core competence in Internet, networking and collaboration solutions. Our first stop in the development of our strategy was Inuit Tapiriit Kunatami – the organization of the Inuit people of Canada. Their direction was clear – find a way to make the classrooms more exciting. Help to stem the high dropout rates. We knew video held the key.  Continue reading

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Ask The #IoE Futurist: “Will the future of battery technology prohibit the advancement of computers or technology in general?”

In my role as Cisco’s Chief Futurist, I get many questions about what the future holds and how new technology and emerging solutions will change our lives. Given the positive feedback and the volume of questions being submitted from the community around the first series, I’ve decided to do another series to answer questions from the education and tech community around the Internet of Everything (IoE). Whether the questions are global in scope, such as how the Internet of Everything will shape our world, or small in nature, like today’s Ask the #IoE Futurist question about batteries, I enjoy the challenge of answering them all.

It’s true what most school teachers say, “There is no such thing as a bad question.”

In fact, when it comes to questioning what the future of technology looks like, the ideas from Malcolm Gladwell’s famous book, The Tipping Point, come to life.

Gladwell states that a tipping point is when a small idea, technology or trend crosses a threshold and “spreads like wildfire.” Today, we are witnessing a tipping point in technology innovation that is representative of small innovations that have a compounding effect on society. Microscopic sensors, tiny wearable mobile devices, miniscule packets of energy, and even an AA battery have the potential to impact future innovation and what it means to be connected.

In this post, I’ll answer a question from Chad, a student of Cisco Champion Karen Woodard, about how specifically new developments in battery technology could impact new solutions.  Here is Chad’s question:

Question: “Will the future of battery technology prohibit the advancement of computers or technology in general?” Continue reading

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Join us at Cisco Connect Toronto on April 15th – 16th, 2014!

Cisco Connect Toronto showcases innovative technology and solutions to keep you up to date on all the latest trends.  It offers unique opportunities to meet partners and customers to gain valuable insight into new emerging technologies such as Source Fire, Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Unified Computing System (UCS), to name a few.

“94% of Cisco Connect attendees surveyed say they were ‘Very Satisfied/Satisfied’”

“94% of Cisco Connect attendees surveyed last year said they were ‘Very Satisfied/Satisfied’”

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Five years and counting: Cisco Unified Computing System

This week marks the 5th anniversary for Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS).  What an exciting milestone for us.


When I joined Cisco back in 2010, I was hired as the 1st UCS dedicated Account Manager in Canada.  At the time, we had just 2 UCS customers in Canada and 127 worldwide.  In my first 6 months on the job, we had completed over 50 UCS proof-of-concepts to help customers with the adoption of our UCS platform. We focused all of our time on proving the benefits of UCS, which included simplified management, operational savings and ease of scalability. We dedicated ourselves to understanding our customers and building best of breed solutions with our partners.

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Simply the Best: Presenting our Canadian Partner Summit 2014 Award Winners

Partner Summit is a special event for me, and our Canadian leadership team. It’s where we get to interact and engage with literally thousands of our partners from across the globe. It’s where we get to discuss the channel and where it is headed as new service models affect how companies purchase technology.

Partner Summit banner

And it’s where we getto celebrate the achievements of our Canadian partners.  Last night at Partner Summit in Las Vegas we announced our 2014 Canadian Partner Summit award recipients, nine very deserving partners that are setting the standard for service, expertise and innovation in Canada.

I am proud to announce the 2014 Canadian Partner Summit award winners are:

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Announcing our Canadian partnership with Schneider Electric

The first day of spring seems like the perfect time to formally announce a Canadian partnership which will create new opportunities for sustainable development and innovation. Today, together with Schneider Electric, we announced a Canadian partnership that will create new opportunities in the development of smart buildings and smart communities across Canada, and have a positive impact on the environment by improving energy efficiency.

Appropriately, we announced our Canadian partnership at Collaboration for a Sustainable Future at the Earth Rangers Centre for Sustainable Technology, one of the most efficient buildings in the world and a leader in innovative water, energy conservation and comfort strategies. Cisco and Schneider Electric have each been working with Earth Rangers for a number of years, and many of our collaborative solutions can be seen in the Centre.

We also announced the deployment of Cisco TelePresence technology at the Earth Rangers Centre for Sustainable Technology, which will continue our devotion to sustainability by cutting down on travel.

We also announced the deployment of Cisco TelePresence technology at the Earth Rangers Centre for Sustainable Technology, which will continue our devotion to sustainability by cutting down on travel.

The world will spend more money on energy in the next 40 years than it has in the previous 400. This massive increase in demand creates challenges with generation, distribution and CO2 emissions. In order to address this dilemma we need to eliminate waste and reduce demand, while managing to improve profitability and resource productivity. Continue reading

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Clara’s Big Ride: Crossing boundaries and pushing the limits to end the stigma on mental illness

It’s not only a bike ride across Canada; it is a connected experience like we have never seen before. Clara Hughes, six-time Olympic medalist in cycling and speed skating, will be pushing the limit in an epic 110-day (12,000 KM) journey to connect, educate and mobilize Canadians in a conversation on mental health. The exciting part is, we will be there to support her at every turn!

Clara Hughes Journey

Clara Hughes Journey

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Meet our riders for Clara’s Big Ride!

TODAY 200 riders are gathering at Maple Leaf Square to prepare to ride with Clara Hughes, six-time Olympic medalist in cycling and speed skating, to help end the stigmas associated with mental illness. These riders will join Clara for the first 5 kilometers of her 12,000 kilometer journey.  Together the riders will cycle to CAMH, racing through the streets of Toronto, building momentum and awareness for this tremendous cause!

We decided to catch up with some of the riders cycling on behalf of Cisco, and here is what they had to say…

Rick Otway

Rick Otway, Cisco Canada

  1. Hometown: Thunder Bay
  2. If you were going on the 110 day journey with Clara, what is the one thing you would need to bring with you?  Taxi Chits.  Definitely.  Maybe a whole Taxi.
  3. Are you a pro, regular or rookie cyclist? – almost regular!
  4. What tunes will you be listening to when you take off on March 14th Some nice Metallica would be good..
  5. Other fun fact about yourself: Will be cycling up Mont Ventoux In France this spring with some great Canadian Olympians and Musicians! Continue reading
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Stories from Enterprise Connect: From Orlando with Love

You’ve probably heard us talk about the office of tomorrow, but what is becoming clear to me is that the office of tomorrow isn’t really an office at all.

Today every hotel room, home office, coffee shop and park bench is the true office of tomorrow.

Technology is making it increasingly easier to connect and collaborate with colleagues, partners and customers from any location, anywhere. You’ve probably also heard us talk about how TOMORROW starts here – well, that has never been more true than today as we announced our latest immersive, interoperable and scalable collaboration solutions at Enterprise Connect in Orlando.

I thought I would take this opportunity to hop on the blog to highlight some of the key announcements for all of those who couldn’t join us in the sunshine state. Continue reading

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