Analyze This: Why Data Matters to Operational Success, Business Acceleration, and More

hi welcome privacy Sigma riders I'm

Michelle denna D vice president and

chief privacy officer today a very

special guest we're super excited to

have her ving tan Thank You Irving tan

he is our SVP of operations here at

Cisco welcome herbing Thank You Michelle

thank you for having me which I which I

know it's a very special first video

podcast it's our very first video and

audio so we're totally multimedia so we

have to send it to like all of our

friends and cousins and things it's a

part of it so tell us a little bit so

you rather knew in your senior vice

president of operations role tell us a

bit about yourself and how did you get

into this new role and then we'll go

back into the deep dark past well I most

recently before taking on this role I

was the leader for our Asia Pacific

Japan business and I helped very solid

roles in that region from enterprise

sales to running a couple of countries

in the region as well and as you know

Asia is a very exciting market it's very

diverse it's very fast-paced but this

was a very dynamic so it's a great

learning ground it represents in a way

of microcosm of what we have to deal

with on a global basis so this is the

the takeaway from this is when you kick

a little bit of booty you get more

booties to kick butt it's been exciting

has been four months in the new role you

know I'm really excited passionate

energized about what we can achieve

within operations obviously we have to

call parts of the business like supply

chain IT procurement security and trust

yeah you know with this whole shift

towards every company becoming digital

and the power of information we've also

stood up a very important new function

called data analytics after my own heart

yeah and we didn't that actually what

we're trying to do is really focus

around how do we connect all that

disparity that we have across the

company in order to help them organize

it how do we get us to a single source

of truth but more importantly how do we

use data to drive better analytics to

drive insight

and most importantly I'm sure that every

business is out there that's listening

to us how do you drive action exactly

inside so I mean it let's take a big

step back I think there are not that

many people who start out really out

there like day to day closing business

the adrenaline rush bringing in the

dollars that would say the sentence you

just said which is I'm really excited

and passionate about operations mmm-hmm

let's let's dig into that a little bit

everything about because I share your

passion for operations how does this

role really bring together a business

that is as diverse and dispersed as a

business like Cisco that's a really good

question I think most people would think

of operations as an enabler of business

I actually view it quite differently

this is obviously an enabling function

that it performs but what I'm focused on

driving within operation since how it

can be an accelerator right and a

competitive differentiator for Cisco

right you know it's hygiene we do need

to create efficiency we do need to

create create skill productivity in

everything that we do but I think that

we can actually help the company to

accelerate a lot more by example of what

we've just done with data and it likes

to better be able to democratize data to

be able to be able to use analytics and

data insights to make better decision

best business decisions or where we put

our investments so we can accelerate our

business a lot more we're looking at

digitizing a lot of what we do within

operation so we have a whole initiative

around refreshing and redesigning the

digital architecture yeah of the entire

enterprise so we can automate a lot more

we can free up a lot more of our

resources to really focus on value-added

things that create differentiation and

competitive advantage for the company

every day so that leads me to my next

question which is with the

democratization of data and I think

that's an interesting thing because you

know for me as a privacy person in

particular democratization is

collectivism while respecting individual

rights so everybody has a push forward

everyone has distinct interest you know

the manufacturing teens have different

from HR etc how do you build this common

data architecture I think we all feel

like as business leaders we are you know

if I if I ask you are you driven by data

when you make your decision people are

almost you know insulted of course him

do you think I'm just like making it all

up how does how does what you're talking

about an in building and driving an

architecture differ from the idea that

you're just taking in information to

make informed decisions well first and

foremost we want to make informed

decisions from an end to end respective

many many times we actually make

decisions based on information we have

within the world that we have visibility

around yeah right and that may be good

for your individual function or your

individual business but it may not be

good for the enterprise yes

and that democratization of data and our

ability to understand true data

implications of a decision where they re

good for the enterprise as a whole or I

do any good for a subset of the

enterprise but you know negatively

affects the enterprise as a whole is

something that I'm really passionate

doing right so we we are but we're also

quite pragmatic in terms of what we're

trying to do right you you you touch on

a very important point in every function

and this applies to any company in the

world everybody's pretty protective of

data right and so we're taking a portion

of not trying to create a large

enterprise theater like and use policy

to so of course everybody's ingest

editor into it so what we focus on is

really creating a policy that's built on

an architecture as well to enable the

right information to be exposed right so

that the the information owners are

comfortable with it the right technology

based on the policies to be able to

expose that data to API so we can

abstract them up into an integrated data

platform that we're building out and

then on top of that we're building an

analytics workbench you know we can

leverage on the data science capability

we have across the company to really

help drive greater insights in our

business through data and what we're

hoping to achieve at the end a is less

about what which is still an important

part about sort of giving us a

historical view of what happened with

the real power what we're trying to

achieve and a luxury

giving us a forward-looking view of how

any decisions we make would have

implications for us down the road so I

always call it about we the need to both

report the weather and also the need to

predict the weather exactly and I think

it's really interesting Irving because a

lot of the vendors that will find me

they'll try to sell me a comprehensive

dashboard and I love a comprehensive

dashboard but it's kind of like when you

come in and you sit in your car and you

look at all of the information I have

taken yes I have

you know how fast am I going etc if I

don't have a steering wheel I'm still

just sitting in my garage so what you're

talking about is really creating a

steering wheel and that doesn't mean

that the engine is mixed in with the

wiper fluid correct it just means that

you can have this democratized because I

think the other piece to pull in the

privacy and security themes around this

is I think this big architecture has to

hang together with privacy and security

notion absolutely and that's very

fundamental to get the stakeholders to

be comfortable yes opening up their data

right so it's two for one we need to get

the stakeholders comfortable exposing

that they then obviously now that we

have visibility across the company in

terms of all the data we need to make

sure we're actually keeping it very safe

and secure and putting in the right

security and privacy protocols to be

ensured to ensure the right we'll need

the right people have access to that


so for an Operations guy this is not

normal this is very Sigma from the norm

because I think typically when you think

operations you think how do we do things

as efficiently and take as much cost out

as possible tell us a little bit about

your background like where did you get

your start and you have a very

end-to-end in business focused view well

first of all you know I'm I didn't start

up in the technology industry although I

am a engineer by training I actually

started out working for ExxonMobil as a

graduate manager I did not know that so

I spent a pure close to seven years

there I got rotated into different roles

almost every 12 months so funny enough I

thought that almost like in the finance

fall in the company so I spend time in

sales and marketing and corporate plan

in operations went off to do my MBA

and I took kind of a big career change I

went into the management consulting

industry worked with a company called 8e

Carney spent time doing supply chain

work in oil and gas feel initially then

I wanted to have a change because I like

gadgets I like technology and things

doesn't really change things don't

really change much in the oil and

gasoline additive but I took a strong

interest in the Communications and Media

practice spent a lot of time learning

about it and I thought I could apply

myself to it so I really moved into that

space and one thing led to another and

Here I am 11 years on eleven years on

and it's a it's interesting so a couple

of stories I'll share you my ExxonMobil

story but the dinosaurs isn't that the

people out there but that the commodity

that they're dealing with used to be a

dynasty about dinosaurs and it still is

a pet peeve of mine when people talk

about data is the new oil because as

I've shared with you in the past that

was something I said in 2000 but I

followed it up with that it's not the

new oil it's the new currency it is

because oil is dead dinosaur there's

different flavors of it but data about

business about human beings about the

stories we tell to each other and the

way we tell you know the person who was

like the best guy for the job ten years

ago might be a totally different person

so there's not following that temporal

path how do you fit that into this

architecture yeah I think absolutely did

it really well right you talked about

data as currency and one of the reasons

why you know even in operations we're

focused on data I talked about the shift

from operations being just a business an

able it's a Business Accelerator we're

looking at how do we monetize that yeah

how do we use that data to monetize the

business how do we accelerate the

business and that's not selling data for

advertisement no how do we use data to

deliver better services to our customers

to understand what they're using so we

can deliver a better feature

functionality to them I really want to

get be able to get to a stage where we


prevent or preempt issues that they may

be facing before they even realize that

it's gonna happen and all that's great

value to our customer so I think that's

something that we can really a focus on

how we use data a lot more and it seems

to be in line very much well and no

surprise your head of operations our

corporate strategy is you know we really

have changed we've really transformed

and over the last you know many years

here to be this recurring revenue like

you can buy services from Cisco who'da

thunk it 20 years ago where do you see

us going in the future I mean how does

how does having this kind of being

currency traders investing saving

divesting consciously where does that

take us into the future well I think

it's very much aligned with our stated

goal which is to transform the business

to become a much more software base

recurring revenue based company and so

when you're in the software business

which we already are in today right and

it's not that we become a pure software

company you'll have software assets

combined with you know leading

state-of-the-art hardware but when

you're in a software business you almost

is about selling intangible value yes

yes what software really does gives you

great insight and great information yes

how people are using things how they're

behaving right what are they what are

they using it for

and it's these things that are better

that's gonna give us a opportunity

better service our customers yeah we go

far but it also means that as a company

we need to transform the thing much more

horizontally right in the traditional

wall that we grew up in let's say in the

hardware world in technology like Cisco

that you could actually almost just

focus around your individual stovepipe

right yes but as you get to a

data-driven wall as you move into a

software world where the connectivity so

high it means that we need to think much

more horizontally much more end-to-end

in everything that we do and it's not an

end-to-end view where as a start there's

a finish but an end-to-end view where

it's a continuous lifecycle of push

something that we do and data treads

that in a hope is the whole lifecycle

and and it it makes me wonder you know

there's the quote and I don't know who

said it that culture eats strategy for


jaakor thank you you know always like

you manage what you measure and for me

my mantra is do you protect what you

treasure so if you don't know what your

data treasure is you can't have a

Treasury so so how do we develop a

culture you know we have people who have

great experience in networking they know

literally where all the cable lives yes

how do we make sure that those people

feel transformed along with us and

change a culture where we understand how

to share across that's that's a real

mind shift it is I think first and

foremost we need to show them some

initial quick wins on the value of how

democratizing that data can impact them

in a positive way

the other thing that we're doing also

also to look at marrying data scientists

with some of you know know our more

experienced people as well I'm putting

embedding them into the business that's

a fun thing to watch if there was a

reality show

you know what's happens when a computer

scientist comes into a hardware workshop

well you know it's it's not uncommon

actually Michele I I'm from Singapore I

was talking to a relative from my who

works in the hospital right and he's

been assigned a data scientist excellent

so he works in a University Hospital

he's been assigned a data scientist and

the data scientist job is to figure out

how we apply data science into the

healthcare wall so I think I think the

people tend to forget that data and

itself is not as powerful as using data

in the context of the business yes

so ability to measure data and the data

science analytics capability with a

business owner and someone has deep

subject matter in the business it's

really how you unlock the power what

data I can do and obviously going back

to your theme of privacy we need to make

sure that we're doing it in a safe and

secure manner yeah yeah especially in

hospital and other settings I think in

gosh there's so many threads I want to

continue on but I'm getting the high

sign that your next thing to actually

run this business so earning just you

know two things one best star wars movie

of the series Empire Strikes Back

without a doubt this is why

follow this man like you should have led

with that in your car now I'm totally a

minute I'm following and wear my

Princess Leia resistance thing today my

favorite line from the movie of course

is Han Solo's response to lay out I love

you hon I know just kind of the story of

my love life that's a different story

but the second story is like into the

future you know what do you think like

when you see things like machine

learning AI what do you think your role

what is the senior vice president of

operations what is that what is the

background where where are we going

there so I think first and foremost one

of the things they were changing within

our operations group is - we will still

have to control continue to focus on the

here and now continuing to deliver

highly optimized productive services to

the company but we're also building

capacity look over the horizon a lot

more how can we utilize some new

technologies like AI and m/l more into

the core processes of our business we're

really starting to do that right today

is still pretty nascent I would say

we're very much focused around using

that technology and and the systems and

automation to remove a lot of manual

labor that we have in the company right

we actually don't want to do yeah stuff

that we need in a way that we needs done

but a lot of business processes where we

have a lot of human party as I call it

to get stuff done we want to be able to

automate all of that we want to be able

to apply machine learning and artificial

intelligence on and by doing that we're

able to upskill our talent to really

focus on the next stage of competitive

advantage that we want to drive for the

company so to me it's all about

continuously how do we use technology

better and how do we continuously

reposition the human capital that we

have to continue to create advantage for

business so that we can achieve our goal

of business acceleration and just not

business enablement yeah I love it

and I know I'm supposed to wrap it I'm

asked I can't resist since you're here

one last question about what you're

talking about in leveraging kind of

really what's the best optimizing

people's potential at work where does

this fit in with all these initiatives

for inclusion yeah well again we want to

harness the collective knowledge and

wisdom right and I'm a big believer

around inclusion and I

whereas gender diversity when is

generational died was the experiential

diversity riding by being able to bring

all those ideas and being being able to

have that safe environment to put points

of view on the table and have robust

discussions we actually end up with much

more holistic we all taught you robust

outcomes at the end a democratize your

data at the end well Irving I'm gonna

get crushed and probably fired by by

ultimately you if I don't let you do I

get my raise i sat on the prep call this

would be a great time for you to like

pull in the Bentley or the Aston Martin

thanks Troy you know you don't ask you

don't get true but thank you so much

Irving it's been a pleasure it's my

pleasure thank you Joe thank you

it's a wrap guys our first video