Cisco Live APJC was streamed live to (home offices) all over the world. Source: Shutterstock

Key takeaways from Cisco Live Virtual Event for APJC

The second innings of the Cisco Live Virtual Event APJC (Asia Pacific, Japan, and China) were no less impactful than its first.

After Wednesday’s sessions filled with insights on how businesses across the region can overcome new climate challenges by turning to technology, yesterday’s track covered a range of topics from growing ICT trends to the future of work.

Presenters ranging from the firm’s APAC President to technology mavens shared expert insights on how technology can be – and will definitely be – businesses’ strongest ally in the coming months. In fact, most of the keynote speakers channeled plenty of optimism grounded with a realistic outlook on the regional market’s growth potential.

The reassuring outlook comes at a time when plenty of businesses can’t help but be concerned about the survival and future of their operations. Industrial technology leaders like Cisco are certain that business continuity can be achieved by expanding and optimizing IT capabilities.

For SMEs, the road to business continuity begins with an understanding of how maturing technologies can be a wise investment, regardless of size, to put them in best stead for the future. With the curtain closed on the two-day event, Tech Wire Asia explores some highlights and takeaways from day 2 of the virtual conference.

# 1 | Small but impactful

Small businesses are instrumental to the economy. Making up well over 90 percent of all business segments, they are the biggest combined drivers.

However, given the current climate, small businesses must strive to go digital at a faster rate and adopt solutions that can strategically support and enhance their operational strengths. At the same time, these businesses must get rid of the perception that digital solutions are luxuries meant for large enterprises with adequate resources.

Be it automation, cloud or even artificial intelligence, these solutions have proven to be critical and highly accessible for businesses of all sizes – even those with less than 250 employees. With that being said, one particular area of focus that DD Dasgupta, Vice President of Cisco’s Small Business Solutions, raised was cybersecurity.

In an era of increased cyber risks and threats, small businesses have got everything to lose if they don’t put up the necessary defenses.

“An average cyberattack can cost businesses more than US$200,000 to resolve. And so, it’s not surprising to know that more than half of small businesses that go through an attack do not last for more than six months after the incident,” Dasgupta revealed in one of the sessions.

# 2 | Trends do matter

While the current crisis might encourage businesses to shy away and go into ‘survival mode; accelerating transformation has never been more critical. But in order to do that successfully, SMEs must observe and respond to trends, tapping into technologies that are expected to be critical in uplifting businesses from the crisis, and put them in good stead afterward.

According to Kevin Bloch, CTO of Cisco Australia and New Zealand, some of the key ICT trends to look out for this year is AI’s increasing prominence in enabling businesses to scale up effectively, the development of cognitive internet through network transformation, and cloud as well as edge computing becoming the new normal.

These solutions will soon be SME’s operational necessities and no longer remain an optional IT ambit – acting now can put businesses at an advantage in the longer term. In the meantime, SMEs must remain vigilant and resilient because those qualities are needed to drive and motivate the workforce – business front-liners who will turn IT capabilities into revenue.

At the end of Bloch’s session, he shared a piece of advice: “History has demonstrated – several times – how humans have addressed major societal and economic challenges.

“And I’m sure none of us have witnessed anything like what we’re going through today, yet with the technologies that are present – and those that aren’t [yet] – coupled with human ingenuity, there is plenty of hope.”

# 3 | Back to the office?

Transformation initiatives in the past have often focused on the physical workplace, making it a space that fosters collaboration, flexibility of working styles and individualism.

While these initiatives will resume once again when business returns to some level of ‘normality’, the involuntary disruption that’s been brought upon industries will surely have an impact of our perceptions ‘the workplace’, and may actually accelerate a widespread reevaluation of long-accepted ways of working. Many businesses will realize a remote working arrangement, for example, can work for them.

“Workspace transformation for this decade needs to involve both the physical workplace and the workforce experience, and both together,” said Vanessa Sulikowski, a Distinguished Systems Engineer at Cisco.

Sulikowski imagines this concept as “an intelligent, cohesive workspace environment that allows you to actively connect, collaborate, and co-create not only in the physical workplace but also remote – people outside and inside your organization.”

At the core of these transformations are virtual platforms and collaboration tools that will break the silo between the physical world and the workforce experience. Most of these solutions are readily available in the market, with one clear example being Cisco’s Webex tools. All that’s left to do now is to integrate such solutions across all functions in the organization.

All in all, experts across Cisco Live Virtual Event APJC were positive that all businesses have the potential and strength to continue operating as usual amid the current climate. Technology companies are also fully aware of their role in helping businesses get to the other side.