Cisco’s Hierarchy of Needs for the digital enterprise


The European edition of Cisco Live took place this week in Berlin, which is a fitting location given the amount of innovation happening in that city right now. If you ever find yourself in Berlin, be sure to check out Cisco’s Open Berlin innovation center where inventive start-ups are building and showcasing solutions that run on Cisco technology.

Innovation and digital transformation are linked together like Kirk and Spock. You can’t have one without the other. At this week’s event, Ruba Borno, Cisco vice president of growth initiatives and chief of staff for the office of the CEO, gave her first-ever keynote to a Cisco Live audience. Not surprisingly, she focused on digital transformation. However, unlike many keynotes I have seen, Borno didn’t just talk about digitization at a high level. Instead she was more prescriptive and gave the audience a guide on how to proceed with making the shift to a digital enterprise. 

To get her point across, Borno compared the journey to digital via Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If you’re not familiar with the theory, Abraham Maslow observed human behavior and theorized that you can’t grow as a human without having some basic needs. As the diagram shows, at the most basic level, humans need physiological things such as oxygen, food, water and sex. Once that is achieved, then we need to feel secure and so on. 

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Layer 1 of Cisco’s Hierarcy of Needs: Digital defense 

Borno painted a similar picture for digital transformation where IT teams need to fulfill certain basic requirements before they embark down the digital path. The first layer of Cisco’s hierarchy is “The Best Digital Defense.” In other words, you can’t begin the digital journey without having the right security in place to protect the company and its customers. 

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