Phunware’s Cisco roots are deep. Cisco is an investor in Phunware, Phunware is a Certified Cisco Partner and two of Phunware’s co-founders used to work at Cisco. It was great, then, to reconnect with the Cisco community at this year’s Cisco Live conference in San Diego. There was no shortage of educational events, smart IT professionals and of course nerdy swag. On the last day of the conference, there appeared to be a great nerd exodus at the San Diego Airport—light sabres could be seen sticking out of almost every backpack in sight.
But we didn’t attend Cisco Live just for the light sabres—we attended for insights into IT and hardware infrastructure. And we got them. Read on for our top three takeaways.
1. It’s now the IT salesperson’s job to sell business solutions, not just boxes and switches.
“We’ve completely turned our organization on its head—we’ve moved from selling boxes to selling outcomes.”
–John Chambers, Cisco CEO, Opening Keynote
Cisco is undergoing a huge transformation to bring IT out of the back office and into important discussions about how to best use technology to drive business outcomes. With so many wireless, mobile and location technologies on the market, it can be difficult for customers to understand how to put them all together. Companies are willing to invest in business outcomes like customer experience, competitive differentiation and ROI. Both Cisco and its Solution Partners (like Phunware) need to be clearer than ever about how their technology drives those outcomes. That means helping customers envision possible user engagement scenarios and understand how to combine different technologies to achieve them.
Accordingly, a question we got asked a lot was, “How will a good mobile app help me drive more hardware sales?”
In our experience creating mobile apps for top brands, this is the flow we always see: Great mobile app experiences → lots of downloads → lots of bandwidth used → more hardware procurement needed.
For example, at the AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Phunware’s app engages fans by broadcasting pictures and video they take on their smartphones on huge stadium screens and using augmented reality to let fans create pictures of themselves at various places in the stadium (standing in front of the cheerleaders, for example). Because fans enjoy the app experience, they engage more. Imagine the bandwidth (and hardware) required to support this kind of connectivity. That’s how a good mobile app can drive hardware sales.
Successful sales conversations are changing—innovating and iterating with customers to achieve “A-ha!” moments is now just as integral to driving sales as showing ROI or a favorable cost structure.
2. Customer experience is front and center.
From the opening keynote to the panels to the tradeshow floor, few Cisco Live conversations happened without a mention of customer experience. During the welcome keynote, mobile and location-based customer experiences took center stage. Demos of the future of retail with indoor navigation and the future of connected health with mobile patient experience aligned perfectly with Phunware’s vision and capabilities.
Phunware CEO Alan Knitowski served as a panelist on the Cisco Live Executive Symposium “Building Today, Leading Tomorrow,” where he discussed how redefining risk and reward and organizing internal process around customer experience can propel startup growth.
Customer experience was a major conversation topic on the tradeshow floor as well. Toward the end of the show, a solutions architect came to the Phunware booth and initiated a conversation about the importance of good design. To summarize the conversation: without good design, mobile app users are quick to abandon an app and certainly won’t recommend it to their friends. The fewer users an app has, the lower the utilization is for bandwidth and technologies like Cisco’s MSE or beacons that enable indoor mobile wayfinding. We have reached the point where top-notch consumer-facing design can have a critical impact on enterprise hardware partnerships, strategies and sales.
3. Cisco understands the value of partners and how to cultivate, support and grow relationships within the technology ecosystem.
Due to the speed of innovation, there are more opportunities than ever for companies that partner (rather than build) to create compelling solutions for the entire customer journey. And the results aren’t trivial either—when Cisco CEO John Chambers discusses how Cisco business units have grown in the double digits while their respective markets have only grown in the single digits, he says, “It is about innovation enabled by fast IT and partners.”
Cisco was a great host and we were impressed by the support we got from Cisco team members who came by to see us during the event. Plus, who doesn’t like a free Aerosmith concert with an open bar??
Thanks Cisco, #CLUS2015 was awesome and we can’t wait to see you in Vegas next year!
Photo source: Preferred Networks