Solving the world biggest challenges and making the world a better place for everyone is something most large businesses talk about, but action is sometimes lacking.
One company that has stepped up, particularly in the past five years, is Cisco, whose stated purpose is to “Power an Inclusive Future.” While the company has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to social causes, it’s programs such as its involvement with Global Citizen, and its Networking Academy and Global Problem Solver that separate it from many of its peers.
One of the more noteworthy programs is called “Country Digital Acceleration” or CDA, which helps entire countries develop their digital transformation.
Also see: Digital Transformation Companies
Cisco’s CDA Starts With Government Leadership
Since launching the CDA program six years ago, Cisco has partnered with government leaders, industry, and academia worldwide to speed up digitization and grow the economy. Cisco meets with leaders that have developed digital agendas for their countries and helps them implement the agendas. Today, 44 countries have launched more than 1,000 projects as part of CDA.
I recently spoke with Guy Diedrich, Cisco’s senior vice president and global innovation officer, to learn more about the CDA program and the impact it’s making around the world. Highlights of my ZKast interview, done in conjunction with eWEEK eSPEAKS, are below.
- Government leaders select projects in key areas like transportation, smart cities, education, and healthcare—essentially anything that can be digitized. CDA executes the projects to promote gross domestic product (GDP) growth, create next-gen jobs, and build a sustainable innovation ecosystem within the country.
- Cisco makes direct investments in the concepts and pilots, which align with the national digital agendas of every country. The country is responsible for scaling and replicating their projects. Cisco collaborates with developed countries (U.S., UK, Italy, Germany), as well as small and large developing countries (India, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan).
- One example of a CDA project is the Port of Rotterdam, located in the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. Cisco began working with Port of Rotterdam a few years ago, with the goal of making it the first port in the world to receive an autonomous ship by 2030. The ship would have zero human interaction throughout its journey.
- Another project is a small village located a few hours outside of Mumbai, India. By connecting the village to the Internet for the first time, Cisco helped shrink the digital divide for the villagers, including young girls who never previously attended school.
- Approximately 40 percent of the world is still not connected to the Internet. By connecting the unconnected, nearly 500 million people could be lifted out of poverty and $6.7 trillion would contribute to the global GDP. The impact on citizens would be tremendous, as people gain better access to government services, work, and education—as evident in the village example above.
- CDA aligns with Cisco’s vision of creating an “inclusive future for all.” The program allows Cisco to carry out that vision in the real world. It’s a partnership built on trust. Cisco is working with different countries without any expectation other than their success. In return, the countries are trusting Cisco to help them digitize.
- Because CDA has been well-received globally, Cisco plans to make additional rounds of investment in certain countries. Meanwhile, the program continues to expand as Cisco reviews more countries waiting in the pipeline to join.
- There are other exciting developments ahead for CDA. The program’s focus is currently centered on research and education, business and innovation, digital platforms for economic development, and infrastructure. Sustainability—a priority for global leaders—is being added as the fifth area of focus. Investments in programs and projects that support sustainability will be a big part of CDA moving forward.
Doing research on corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs has been a passion of mine for the past decade. The technology industry is filled with tremendous innovation that can be game changing for all businesses.
However, if the value of innovation is only to help businesses make more money, then we have failed as an industry. There is so much good that can be done with digital technologies and Cisco’s CDA program can help entire countries chart a path to a better future.