This year, we are celebrating our 25th year anniversary of the Cisco Live events which used to be called Networkers. We are back to our home town of San Francisco for this great celebration! This event started in 1989 with only 200 attendees and this year the expected attendance is over 25,000 and over 200,000 in virtual attendance! At least 1/3 of the attendees have been to previous Cisco Live events and more than once!
Cisco was named after San Francisco, was founded in Palo Alto and started these successful customer appreciation events right here so what a better place to be other than the beautiful city of San Francisco, our own backyard! The theme of the event is – Tomorrow Starts Here ~ The Internet of Everything IoE.
This is my 13th Networkers/Cisco Live Event! I take a moment and I reminiscent of past events some of them taking place in the very hot city of Las Vegas, others in beautiful Louisiana - feeling the warm breeze from the Mississippi river, being in the humid climate of Orlando Florida, enjoying the dry heat of Orange county in Southern California, or the beautiful tempered climate of San Diego, so many memories, so many customers, so much excitement, lots of anticipation and always the sweet sense of contentment and accomplishment at the end of each event.
I drive from the suburbs of Sacramento, beat the traffic and arrive in San Francisco in early afternoon on Sunday, May 18th. I quickly check into my hotel, almost blown away from the strong wind while getting my sense of direction as to where I have to go for registration. Moscone North is my first stop. I register and off I go to the World of Solutions (WoS) which is at the Moscone South. The minute I enter I get the high energy, the strong feeling of urgency and the high activity because everyone is trying to finish constructing all the booths for the next day’s big opening day!
Our workstation is in the Services area with our signage – Connect 1:1 with Your Customers Anytime! I load our slides and start talking with folks from the other Cisco teams. My colleague, Dan Bruhn is arriving in a few minutes from Chicago. It’s great to see him at every Cisco Live event and be able to talk face-to-face and catch up with all that’s happened in between the yearly events.
On Monday morning we launch our first Eye on Cisco game that was invented and put together by my colleague Francine Richards. Customers engage with us through the game, have fun, learn more about our Cisco products and enter the daily drawings!
Here, we are at the World of Solutions floor in early afternoon and we are trying to do last minute changes on our shared screens. There are some many Cisco groups that want to be part of the phenomenal Cisco Live event that many of us have to share screens. We are working fast and at 4:30 p.m. we are ready for the show when the doors open for the customers. Most customers are attending the John Chambers keynote. At 5:00 p.m. the floor is flooded with customers following the keynote. Food and drinks are offered everywhere across the exhibition floor so it’s a mere pandemonium. I get to talk with customers - many of them while drinking beer or wine which makes the conversations even more interesting – demo our community and our entire portfolio!
After the World of Solutions closes we are off to a customer appreciation dinner event with our Cisco Designated VIPs! It’s great to see all these loyal customers face-to-face once a year in a more casual setting, get their feedback about the Cisco Support Community, listen to their constructing suggestions while also enjoying conversations about their home towns and life outside Cisco. Their contributions are invaluable to all of the community users. I choose to sit at a table where a few of the customers come from Europe. It’s amazing to see customers faithfully traveling to Cisco Live in the US year after year and from so far away! The social aspect is a crucial factor for many of them as we are told. They want to see their partners, colleagues, fellow networkers face-to-face after spending hours over WebEx, Telepresence and phone conversations. Dinner is at LuLus restaurant and bar. Food is tasty and it’s served family style something that everyone loves as it offers an opportunity to taste a variety of dishes. The evening is pleasant and goes by very quickly in a very relaxed atmosphere. We do our raffle, offer a couple of iPad Minis as prizes as well as some other gifts, in between wine and we end the evening close to midnight. I walk to my hotel a few blocks away and rest in anticipation of an early rise for the second day of the event.
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