by Byron Connolly

CIO50 2016 #26-50: Julie Canepa, Cisco

Nov 24, 2016
Technology Industry

Julie Canepa
Credit: Cisco

As CIO for Cisco ANZ, Julie Canepa is part of a global IT organisation of 3,500 staff which provides a whopping 130 technology services to the region. She is responsible for delivering the vendor’s global initiatives within her region as well as local capabilities to support its $2 billion business in ANZ.

One of these initiatives is a ‘digital sales experience’ program, which Canepa and her team are in the process of deploying here. The key focus of this initiative is to digitise and simplify the way users seek insights and simplify the way sales users information to make decisions.

The sales dashboard – based on SAP’s HANA enterprise platform and integrated with the Salesforce CRM system – provides views into sales opportunities, performance metrics, advanced pricing and predictive analytics, and customer purchase patterns.

“This transformation has involved a high degree of cross-functional and cross-region engagement to ensure that one platform and one solution would meet the needs of a large sales force of more than 14,000 users,” says Canepa.

“We were dealing with legacy solutions and architectures which needed to be overhauled while bringing in new data sources and connecting pre-existing data silos. The solution required an architecture and services-led approach with a primary focus on user experience for a highly mobile workforce.”

Canepa ensured that throughout the project, there was a strong partnership between business teams and IT. With projects of this scale, effective change management, including innovative, lightweight training, were essential for adoption.

“We are still observing the change in behaviour which access to new data promotes, and hope to continue to gain insights which will drive an iterative and continuous delivery cycle to keep evolving our sales approach,” Canepa says.

Innovation: Let the SPARKS fly

Canepa has integrated collaboration platforms such as Cisco SPARK into the local operation’s business teams. This is allowing teams to collaborate in entirely new ways across platforms and devices, and increased their productivity, Canepa says.

The integration of Cisco SPARK into Cisco ANZ’s core business apps reduces dependency on email and helps bring together staff, customers and partners worldwide, she says.

The collaboration tools provide a unique way for teams to work together – the world’s best experts in a particular area can collaborate as if they were in the same room, she says.

Cisco SPARK is also being used to connect people with machines, paving the way for automation, machine learning and the Internet of Things (IoT), Canepa says.

“Our IT team is piloting with IoT innovations in ANZ in partnership with Cisco’s Digital Transformation Office,” says Canepa. “Inside the IT team, we are using visualisation tools for application development and data analytics. This helps to speed the requirements gathering process and helps us gain new and meaningful insights from our data.”

The IT team is working across several industries on IoT innovations – externally in areas in transport, education, retail and agriculture. Internally, it is also focused on IoT innovations in the areas of security, supply chain, smart labs, workspace innovations and patterned decision making, Canepa says.

Cisco’s new headquarters in Sydney will utilise machine learning and artificial intelligence in areas such as IT operations and customer support.

More agile working

Getting teams to work in a more agile and iterative way has also been a transition for the local team, says Canepa, with a focus on minimal viable product and smaller, incremental releases.

“We look at leveraging reusable, modular code, micro-services and standards-based, open platforms. We leverage APIs to open up and connect services in new, scalable and secure ways and to extend the cloud,” she says.

“All of this has involved a transformation of our IT skills sets, how we measure and govern our success and a change in culture.”