27 Apr 2012
I had the task of jetting out to San Diego for the recent Cisco partner conference (taking one for the team, I know). The show was titled "In It To Win It" (I've been on the blower to Dale Winton and his lawyers are already working on their response).
These events tend to lean towards the hubristic, but even by the bombastic standards of the average vendor jamboree, Cisco's Olympics-based opening ceremony (I've already got onto the IOC and their solicitors are on the case) was something to behold, with flag bearers from almost 100 countries converging on the main hall.
The ceremony was capped off by a former Olympic swimmer, who now happens to be a Cisco employee. (By the look on her face, selling routers and switches is every bit as rewarding as winning gold medals.)
The morning continued in much the same self-aggrandising vein. But it turns out that the vendor's worldwide channel chief Edison Peres has more reason to boast than most. While on stage he revealed that he's a black belt martial artist. In addition to being quite a big lad.
He compared the commitment needed to become a top puncher and kicker to that required to become a leading reseller of networking solutions.
Yep - just what I was thinking, Eddy P. And, in case you're reading, let me say that I've always been a huge fan of just about everything you've ever done. Keep up all the good work, buddy.
A teeny bit daft
The other speech of the first morning was delivered by chief exec John Chambers, who tried to shed some light on what the future of technology might look like by sharing some stats about teenagers' feelings towards their devices.
It turns out that about a third of teenagers consider an internet connection to be as important as air, food or water. (Not quite sure that basic physiology agrees with them on that one.) What's more, one in three teens would rather be online than hanging with their BFFs (as I believe the youngsters say). And, perhaps most worryingly, about 40 per cent of today's yoof would rather be surfing the worldwide interweb than out on a date.
Actually, if the way Dave Jr spends his time is any kind of reliable guide, today's kids do spend much more time on the net than out meeting, y'know, actual girls. (I keep telling that boy he's too studious, but he won't have any of it.)
Apparently, the kids' devotion to their tech foreshadows an age of connectivity and innovation, the like of which has never been seen before.
"Perhaps we all need to think a bit more like a teenage girl," drawled Chambers.
Way ahead of you on that one, John.
Drinking it all in
We may have been in sunny, laid-back southern California, but I was very much heartened to see that you can take the Brits out of the UK, but you can't quite take the lager out of their bloodstream.
I'd agreed to take part in a special Q&A with some members of the press and was sharing top billing with the boss of another UK reseller. Of course, I'd gone to bed at 9.30 the night before with my notes for the briefing and nothing stronger than a glass of cranberry juice, and arrived at the briefing a good 15 minutes early.
So I was a little shocked to see my co-star shamble in just as things were kicking off and tell the good people of the fourth estate: "Sorry about my voice - I've been enjoying San Diego a little too much."
Later that morning I had a meeting set up with a vendor exec, who also hails from this sceptred isle. I was intrigued to see the back of the chap's hand still carried the vague imprint of a nightclub entrance stamp. So, I wondered, had it been a less-than-vigorous morning shower? Or had he rolled in fresh from an all-nighter?
Come to think of it, judging from the all-around bleary-eyedness of his expression, the stamp might well have come from a cheeky pre-flight trip to Spearmint Rhino.