Cisco Systems is a company that’s developed a reputation for having one of the most wide-reaching and successful CSR programs. The networking giant invests heavily in the global communities it operates in, through job creation, skills training, disaster response, non-profit partnerships, and much more. A few years ago I caught wind of another program that, while not officially under the company’s CSR umbrella, is still representative of Cisco’s commitment to leveraging its technology to make a positive difference in the world. That program is Cisco’s Country Digital Acceleration program, or CDA for short, in which Cisco partners with various countries’ leadership, industry and academia in the interest of accelerating their national digitization efforts. I recently wrote in detail about the program here, if you’re interested in more background. That brings us to the recent announcement, made in late May, that Cisco has partnered with the government of Brazil as part of its CDA program. Let’s take a closer look at what we can expect from the partnership.
Brasil Digital e Inclusivo
Cisco’s investment in the country, referred to as Brasil Digital e Inclusivo, was codified through a Memorandum of Understanding between Cisco and the country’s Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovations, and Communications (MCTIC). To be clear, this is not Cisco’s first rodeo in this area—in fact, with the addition of Brazil, Cisco’s CDA program is now officially actively operating in 34 different countries. For that matter, Cisco has coordinated over 70 Covid-19 relief projects to date, since the outbreak of the pandemic. Beyond CDA, Cisco has actually been involved in Brazil for a good 25 years, propping up Brazil’s Internet and telecom networks, supporting the Rio 2016 Olympics, and investing in Brazilian start-ups, partners, and academia to help drive innovation in the country. The company’s Networking Academy (read more here) also operates heavily in Brazil (present in all of the country’s states), and has provided IT skills training to over 297,000 students since its introduction to the country.
Cisco is bringing all of this experience, and its impressive technology portfolio to the table, in order to fulfill its charter: boost IT skills development and digital transformation throughout Brazil, and assist the country in its social and economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. Specifically, the initiative aims to accelerate digitization of agribusiness, cybersecurity, education, healthcare, manufacturing and public safety.
What does the partnership consist of?
Brasil Digital e Inclusivo is a broad initiative, made up of a wide range of sub-initiatives. First, Cisco says it is working with the Brazilian government to build an intelligent platform for the purpose of supporting the management, monitoring, and development of public policy. The two parties hope the new National Science, Technology, Innovation System Monitoring Platform will help promote research and drive innovation within the country.
Second, Cisco will engage in programs that help prepare Brazil to prevent, detect and defend itself from cyberattacks. The Networking Academy, which I mentioned earlier, will now offer a Cyber Education program that helps train young people in the IT skills they need to find jobs and opportunity in both the private and public sector. You can be sure cybersecurity will be a topic that is stressed in the program. Additionally, Cisco says it will collaborate with MCTIC to develop various best practices to employ when engaging in threat detection, prevention and analytics.
Cisco also announced plans to develop an “Experience Center” in Brazil, a facility designed to drive innovation and next-generation manufacturing technologies—“Industry 4.0,” as Cisco calls it. The center will provide training for workers (2,000 over the next three years) who operate in the manufacturing sector, endowing them with the skills and know-how to leverage and integrate IT and automation within these environments.
The company is also putting its technology to work to aid in the Covid-19 relief and recovery efforts. For example, Cisco has offered its video/virtual collaboration tools to the country’s beleaguered healthcare institutions, enabling use cases such as telehealth, that help people get the treatment they need without exposing themselves to in-person risk. Cisco says it has also provided “critical technological infrastructure” to multiple field hospitals deployed to serve Covid-19 patients across the country.
As one of the countries worst hit by the coronavirus, this is a great time for Cisco to be ramping up its involvement in the country and helping with the recovery efforts. Where Cisco invests, jobs and opportunity often follow. That’s what makes CDA such a compelling program—Cisco, as a company, has the size, scale, technology and leadership to make lasting impacts where it chooses to devote its resources. In addition to the Brazil-specific initiatives outlined above, Cisco will be strategically investing in many of the other next-generation technologies that fall within its purview, including IoT, 5G, Wi-Fi 6, Smart Cities, and more.
One of Cisco’s main differentiators, in terms of CSR-related endeavors, is that it is committed to forging long-term relationships with the entities it partners with. It doesn’t just throw money at a cause and walk away. That aspect of Cisco’s strategy is fully evident in the plans the company has put forth for its CDA efforts in Brazil. From everything I’ve seen Cisco do, time and time again, around the world, I have the utmost confidence this latest CDA partnership will be fruitful.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.