Twenty-twenty has accelerated digital transformation manifold and forced a paradigm shift in how businesses and individuals interact and transact. Everything is now digital, everything is now data-driven and intelligent, and by extension, everything is vulnerable if not secured.

During Cisco’s recent earnings call, our CEO Chuck Robbins highlighted how businesses are being forced to compress years of work into just a few months as they build out their agile automation platforms. In the new normal, every business aspires to become resilient and ensure that they’re able to delight and wow customers through their commitment to digital.

As an organization, we remain closely aligned with our customers to provide them with the mission critical technology they need. “Through both organic and inorganic innovation, we delivered incredible new technology with new, more flexible consumption offers for our customers with more software and subscriptions,” Chuck told analysts.

There’s no denying that we are on a transformation journey of our own. We know that we play a bigger, more important role, every day as the world around us leverages technology at every step. To stay relevant and resilient, we’re focused on developing APIs on each one of our platforms and using them to offer vertical-specific apps, across industries and segments.

As a result, our customers and partners are able to develop custom solutions that help automate their workflows and transform their operating models.

In essence, we’re building agile platforms, making them extensible via APIs to ensure they can connect to a variety of ecosystems – we know that this is the key for Cisco’s ultimate transition from hardware to software to subscription. Like many, our journey too was accelerated by the pandemic, but it started back in 2017 when our CEO laid out the key metrics for our transformation.

Back then, we set a goal of 30 percent of our revenue to come from software. And while we achieved 29 percent in fiscal year 2020, we did achieve 31 percent in Q4. We also delivered 51 percent of our revenue from software and services in FY 2020, exceeding our target of 50 percent. Lastly, we now have 78 percent of our software revenue sold as subscription, beating our target of 66 percent.

What we’ve achieved for ourselves, we’re helping our clients achieve as well. In the words of our CEO, “we have helped our customers build resiliency in difficult environments, through industry disruptions, and in times of rapid growth,” – and see ourselves continuing to innovate by adapting our business’s strategy to align with where our customers are headed.

Digital infrastructure is key to business resilience in 2021

Business leaders know that running an enterprise in a purely digital environment isn’t easy; but those that find a way to make it seamless and effective are rewarded well by both customers as well as employees. The most fundamental step, therefore, is to establish an effective digital infrastructure that is scalable, provides end-to-end visibility, allows for automation, and has security weaved into its very fabric. For us, that meant creating a bouquet of APIs on our platforms along with vertical-specific apps.

Cisco, in the past few months, has helped several customers understand and transition to such an infrastructure, using a mix of standard and special solutions to suit their specific use case, industry, and vision for the future.

Of course, our ability to support clients has been amplified by our network of world-class partners, but it has also come through a massive effort from within to innovate for tomorrow’s needs today. Our web conferencing platform Webex, for example, made major announcements at the company’s premier digital collaboration conference WebexOne where our CEO was joined by celebrity speakers such as Human Rights Expert Amal Clooney, Pop Culture Icon and Entrepreneur RuPaul Charles, and leading customers such as AT&T, T-Mobile, Under Armour, Tetra Pak, the Dallas Cowboys, and more. If you couldn’t attend, stay tuned to our social media handle to watch the featured replays.

Speaking of those customers, if you’re following American football, you’ll know that the pandemic has taken a toll on the sport and the revenues of the teams and the (US) National Football League. What you’ll also notice is that the teams who had invested in developing a strong digital infrastructure and had forged strategic partnerships have been able to dig themselves out of the hole to stay engaged and connected with fans, ensure safety, and dampen any negative impact on revenues and/or loyalty.

If you’re going digital, you can’t ignore security

Every Cisco client knows that security is one of the cornerstones of any solution we offer. We make sure to weave it into ecosystems and platforms we design for our customers, because it’s in our DNA. During the pandemic, the dependence on digital has increased manifold, and so has the value of a sound cybersecurity blueprint.

According to our recently published 2021 Security Outcomes Study, change is a primary factor in cybersecurity success. On average, programs that include a proactive, best-of-breed tech refresh strategy are 12.7 percent more likely to report overall security success – the highest of any (best) practice.

Further, the survey found that a well-integrated technology stack is the second most important factor for cybersecurity success. It has a positive impact on nearly every outcome evaluated, increasing the probability of overall success by an average of 10.5 percent. Interestingly, integrations also benefit the recruitment and retention of talent, as security teams want to work with the best technology and avoid burnout.

Building a resilient business involves making strong progress with security. That’s non-negotiable. Security is, after all, key to any digital platform or ecosystem. My advice to any leader, therefore, is to focus on strengthening their security culture and to do it sooner rather than later.

For more advice on business resilience, from my colleagues at Cisco and from our clients, check out the Business Resilience Summit – now available on-demand. Also, make sure to check out the featured replays from the WebexOne conference. Remember, the best time to start on the journey to business resilience was yesterday, the next best time is now.