A Chat with Cisco CIO Rebecca Jacoby

Kudos to Cisco for promoting women to top jobs within the company.
Article by David Weldon in FierceCIO.
Emphasis in red added by me.
Brian Wood

Cisco CIO Rebecca Jacoby reflects on top tech trends for 2014 /15

The holiday season is traditionally a time to reflect on the year just past and look ahead to what the New year has in store. With that in mind, FierceCIO recently spoke with Cisco CIO Rebecca Jacoby for her take on the top trends in information technology in 2014 and what she expects to dominate her thoughts in 2015.
Jacoby had a somewhat non-traditional career start to have ended up managing a large IT department. She came from a manufacturing and supply chain background, but it is one she says has served her very well in IT.
"I was born in California. I grew up in the Bay area. I went to school in Stockton at the University of the Pacific and graduated in 1983. I actually have a degree in economics, and fortunately in a poor economic time, I got a role in manufacturing, working for a mainframe company."
Over the next 12 years Jacoby worked in a couple of different companies, but always in supply chain. She eventually ended up in the planning side of supply chain, gaining a lot of ERP experience.
"I came to Cisco in 1995, and in March it will be 20 years for me," Jacoby says. "The first job I had here I came in as the manager of production. So I had managers working for me but I wasn't quite a junior executive yet. I ran the production floor."
When Jacoby first started, Cisco was just under $1 billion in revenues, and had approximately 4,000 employees.
"I was involved early on as a business person, especially concerned with how we were going to do ecommerce. After a couple of years I was asked if I would also take the IT manufacturing team. It was a very strategic part of what we were doing at the time. I had no idea what I was doing. but I agreed to do it. I'm pretty sure that was my fateful career decision."
Jacoby did some other things in the company and had lots of different roles in manufacturing, until eight years ago, when she was asked to take on the role of CIO.
Coming into the CIO role from a non-technology background was actually a natural transition, Jacoby believes.
"I often give people career advice. Whereas there are few people out there that really plan their careers, I have a very clear goal and I'm going for it. But that isn't the way most people are successful," Jacoby says. "For my own self, it's a discovery process of what you're good at, and how you can keep learning new things. On the flip side of it, you're able to contribute at the same time.
"I think there are a couple of things that led me down the IT path," Jacoby explains. "One is that I do have a natural way of thinking systemically, which can be positive and can be difficult as well. More importantly, it started to become clear to me early in my career that I liked being involved in transformation. I always got the most out of jobs when I was asked to go in and make change and keep driving change."
Thriving on transformation is certainly a helpful quality in IT today, as digital transformation is emerging at the most important trend overall to impact the workforce.
"This is probably the first job I've ever had where I absolutely don't see an end to that change," Jacoby notes. "The idea that I'm actually sourcing services, and going out and getting them has a direct correlation to the way you run a supply chain. So that background has been extremely useful to me."
Looking closely at 2014, Jacoby cites several top trends in technology that are impacting the enterprise. And while Cisco has been watching several trends emerge for in the past few years, the firm has focused its attention this year on these five:
"One vector has changed over the years," Jacoby says. "We started off calling it virtualization. It really has been how we developed our own private cloud. And it is more aptly called infrastructure-as-a-service. That fundamental transition has some transitions within it that are pretty interesting. It is really a move to a cloud-based approach to delivering applications, but the infrastructure is changing in order to get from here to there. "
"The second one is the applications themselves: the way that applications have evolved," Jacoby explains. "There are lots of trends in that regard but I would say from an enterprise standpoint, the important thing is delivering the applications as a service or sourcing them as a service."
"The third trend, which is also related to the applications, is all about mobility," explains Jacoby. "That one has been pretty interesting and has lots of nuances to it. It started out being about BYOD and the device, but has moved well beyond the device and is continuing to evolve to be effectively about the workload and the person trying to access the workload."
"The next is the data," says Jacoby. "When we first started we sort of lumped this together with the applications, but I think it has been a pretty important decision on our part a few years ago to extract the data evolution from the application evolution. But it is still about creating data-as-a-service. I think data is very central to what is going to happen next."
"The last one is collaboration. Collaboration technologies are pretty interesting, and I include anything to do with communication or social. There are some things about content included in that as well," Jacoby notes.