One of the world’s biggest tech companies, Cisco, enables the world to go online, thanks in part to the Netherlands’ digital gateway. Cisco Netherlands‘ Managing Director Edward Prinsen explains about his company’s mission to help digitize the world – and how its Dutch operations play a key role.
Cisco connects the internet around the globe
‘We sometimes say that we build the internet, because we connect it all,’ says Prinsen. Cisco develops products, provides services and delivers integrated solutions to connect networks around the world. Its technology and services include video, mobility, security, collaboration and analytics products, and it recorded revenues of just over $50 billion in 2019.
As one of the world’s biggest technology firms, Cisco takes a leading role in global digitization. This includes everything from training people in digital and entrepreneurial skills to providing access to affordable housing, clean drinking water and sanitation. Cisco has a bold goal: to positively impact one billion people through digital solutions by 2025.
‘Our vision is that we want to give the world population access to the internet,’ explains Prinsen. ‘If you look at developing countries, once you connect someone to the internet, they can have schooling, they can start their own little shop, they can reach the world. It can help unemployment, can create all kinds of new jobs and boost economies. We also put money into educating people. We are a commercial operation; we are on the stock exchange. But we really believe if we invest money into helping develop things, it’s part of our corporate social responsibility. And, at the end of the day, it will come back to us if we help take a country or company to the next level.’
Digital solutions to make societies better
In the last decade or so this process has accelerated rapidly, and as artificial intelligence and technologies associated with the Internet of Things (IoT) improve, Prinsen thinks that we’ll start to see more smart solutions become an everyday part of life.
‘We’re already seeing how tech is connecting devices and data,’ he explains, ‘We call it DNA spaces. That when you walk into a building, you know, the Wi-Fi can do all kinds of things for you – connect your air conditioning, your heating etc. And that can be for a building, an app, whatever. So, that is one thing we’re helping to build for the future: one in which there will be no digital boundaries anymore, and the whole world is connected in a safe and secure way.’
The Netherlands’ connectivity and infrastructure are key for Cisco
After being founded in San Francisco in 1984, Cisco moved to the Netherlands in 1992 to take advantage of the Dutch IT connectivity and infrastructure. It now employs almost 1,000 people in the country.
‘The Netherlands is a great gateway to Europe,’ explains Prinsen. ‘It has a digital and physical infrastructure. It also has one of the best internet structures in the world, which means there are a lot of IT companies and startups here. It’s a great market and it’s a great test market, with a dense population willing to adopt new technologies. Also, everything we sell in Europe, Russia and Africa is transported via the Netherlands. It serves as a real logistical hub for us.’
Innovative, diverse and accessible
‘In terms of Amsterdam, with Schiphol you can fly everywhere, but it also has great universities and a really diverse population,’ Prinsen says. ‘That’s something we found key at Cisco, we need that diversity. We want to be a mirror of society. So, in our office in Amsterdam we have around 45 nationalities. We’re now hosting Cisco Live here, and one of the reasons is also the environment: it is very innovative, and if you want to make it a green event you can come by train from everywhere.’
Cisco supports Dutch ambitions to accelerate digitization
For the past two and a half years, Cisco has worked closely with the Dutch government to help drive the digitization of the Dutch economy and society. Through the Digital Acceleration Netherlands (DVN) programme, Cisco contributes to the government’s Digital Agenda, with a focus on infrastructure and transport, cybersecurity, education, innovation, IoT & smart cities and healthcare.
The programme is part of Cisco’s global Country Digitization Acceleration Initiative, which is designed to help countries digitise their economies. ‘Our DVN team has worked with many organisations on more than 50 projects,’ explains Prinsen. ‘These are all helping to accelerate the digital transformation in the Netherlands.’
The Netherlands is the digital gateway to Europe and beyond
As the world’s No. 1 country for online connectvity and home to the Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX), one of the world’s leading digital data distributors, the Netherlands is one of the most attractive countries for tech companies. Businesses that invest in the Netherlands’ technology and IT sector thrive, thanks to the tech-savvy, multilingual Dutch workforce, the great digital infrastructure, an innovative and open culture, R&D incentives and the strong focus of the Dutch government on developments in tech.
Source: amsterdam inbusiness (aib)