Cisco Is A Company With A Heart And Here Is Why

Cisco, with its intelligent solutions around networking, security and digitization, might have been considered as the brain behind the smooth functioning of many a telecom operators and enterprises, but not many knows that the US origin networking giant carries a big heart too. Besides providing businesses and telecom service providers plethora of product and solutions, the company is doing it best to touch the lives of those who are still deprived of privileges offered by today’s technological solutions.

The company showcased some of its initiatives in the 5th edition of Cisco India Summit, the firm’s annual industry conclave, held in Goa recently. The initiatives include helping Akshaya Patra Foundation feed thousands of hungry people each day to support N/Core help social entrepreneurs to build solutions for the society with help of technology, from helping under privileged school students learn English to cope up with future challenges to minimizing power consumption of its Bengaluru corporate office by 40% using solar power.

“Cisco is a company with a heart,” proclaimed Cisco Senior Vice President, IT & CIO – International, V. C. Gopalratnam taking the center stage at the Cisco India Summit 2018 before making the big announcement.

And the announcement was that the company has a target of positively impacting 50 million beneficiaries in India by 2025. The aim is to solve global problems and positively impact people, society and the planet by using technology. This goal is a part of Cisco’s global vision of impacting 1 billion lives worldwide by 2025 through digital solutions.

As part of its philanthropic and Corporate Social Responsibility efforts, Cisco highlighted the critical role information and communication technology (ICT) and public-private partnerships play to accelerate global problem solving and positively impact people, society, and the planet.

Cisco is also using its strength in connecting people and things to the Internet and working to create a robust ecosystem including government and community organizations in India to effect real change in the areas of critical human needs, education, economic empowerment, and environmental sustainability.

Creating Global Problem Solvers & Fostering Entrepreneurship

Cisco is setting up a network of “Cisco thingQbator” IoT makerspaces or innovation labs in five academic institutions in India with the objective of digital skills development and entrepreneurship enablement among student communities. Cisco is collaborating with the NASSCOM Foundation for the implementation of the program. The makerspaces will enable students to get hands on with technology and conceive digital solutions to local problems. The five academic institutions that have been chosen for establishment of ‘thingQbator’ makerspaces are Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management, (IIITMK), Kerala, IIT-BHU Varanasi, Amrita University Coimbatore, Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women- Delhi and Trident Academy of Technology Bhubaneswar.

Cisco is also supporting N/Core, an incubator for social sector startups, to launch N/Core tech – an exclusive track focused on incubating early-stage nonprofits that leverage digital technology to positively impact society and solve some of India’s most pressing social challenges. N/Core tech will primarily focus on incubating companies that are developing solutions in the areas of critical human needs, education, and economic empowerment.

Cisco will support up to 20 organizations during the first year in two cohorts. Each selected startup will receive an innovation grant of Rs 10 Lakhs. In addition, the startup will have access to a set of mentors and technology experts from Cisco along with N/Core partners.

Skills Development & Building Workforce Capacity

As part of its efforts to accelerate India’s digital transformation, the firm is scaling up its Cisco Networking Academy program to create a pool of highly-skilled technology professionals. Through this program schools, colleges, universities and other non-profit educational institutions are provided Cisco-developed curriculum in computer networking, security and IoT that can be integrated with the institution’s own educational offering. Cisco also supports public sector organizations like The Telangana Academy for Skills and Knowledge, and the ICT Academy of Kerala, to provide training on networking and cybersecurity skills aimed at improving employability of engineering graduates in those states.

By 2020 Cisco aims to create a pipeline of 250,000 skilled students in India as well as a marketplace for high-value technology-based careers. Already over 155,000 students have successfully picked up essentials skills from over 306 academies across the country.

Talent Outreach Program is a six-month program to provide high school students an early exposure to technical skills to better prepare them as global problem solvers.

Cisco also launched the Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Internet of Things (IoT) at R V College of Engineering, Bengaluru to give the next generation of students the digital skills and training necessary for jobs in the digital economy. On completion of the course, students and working professionals receive credential certificates jointly given by RVCE and Cisco. In the last one year, 1000 students have benefitted from this CoE.

‘Step Up for India – Spoken English Program’ is one more such initiative and is in its fourth year now that has benefitted over 300+ students from three government schools in Bangalore. The program delivers structured spoken English classes to students in grade 4 and 5 studying in government schools where the medium of instruction is the local language. These structured interventions are also executed in the space of STEM learning such as in the case of ‘Project Smiles Through Science’ which endeavors to provide an experiential learning platform for students on the basics of robotics through structured year-long programs leveraging the expertise and mentorship of Cisco volunteers.

Critical Human Needs

Cisco is also supporting the Akshaya Patra Foundation, the world’s largest (non-profit) mid-day meal program to help feed children across the country and digitize their kitchens across seven locations in India. While employee giving, volunteering and company matching grants help feed 35,000 children every day, Cisco’s enterprise-grade network and collaboration suite is connecting Akshaya Patra kitchens and their offices to efficiently track their kitchen production, distribution, supply chain and logistics. This digitisation effort is expected to increase Akshaya Patra’s operational efficiency by about five percent which will help them extend the mid-day meal program to over 28,500 students every day and one step closer to their goal of feeding 5 million children by 2020

Environmental Sustainability

Cisco’s act for the society and the planet starts with itself. The company, perhaps, would be only company in India, at its scale, whose 40% power consumption demand is met by renewable energy. It recently signed two solar power purchase agreements (PPAs) that will collectively deliver 85,000 megawatt-hours of clean, renewable electricity every year to the local electric grid near its Bangalore campus. These agreements will provide nearly 40 percent of the electricity that is needed to power Cisco’s Bangalore campus.


Cisco Bangalore Campus

Cisco has also installed one megawatt of solar panels across all of its rooftops at the Bangalore campus. Collectively, these onsite solar installations and two new solar PPAs will reduce Cisco’s Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions at its Bangalore campus by over 70,000 metric tonnes per year, which is equivalent to taking 15,000 cars off roads or planting 1.8 million trees

“With our philanthropic and CSR efforts, we are committed to positively impact 50 million beneficiaries in India the next seven years. We work with some of the most forward thinking partners, not-for-profit organizations, collaborative governments and scores of passionate employees to really make a different to the world that we inhabit,” Gopalratnam said.

*The author attended the Cisco India Summit 2018 on the company’s invitation

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