John Chambers honored with France's National Defence Gold Medal FEATURE

A Well-Deserved Honor for John Chambers, Executive Chairman and Champion for Country Digitization and Security

By Guy Diedrich

Cisco VP of Sales Strategy & Planning

If you've ever met John Chambers or seen him speak, you know that he is passionate... VERY passionate!  His passion extends to his family, friends, Cisco employees and so many other areas.  The most recent addition to these passions is Country Digitization Acceleration (CDA).  Cisco's Country Digitization Acceleration (CDA) program is a long-term commitment to partner with national leadership, industry and academia to deliver real digital outcomes faster and more effectively.  The results for the countries include increased GDP, new job creation and investments in sustainable innovation ecosystems.  With 16 countries either executing CDA programs or in the planning phase, almost one-third of the global population is under a Cisco CDA agreement.  Over the next 15 years the world will go from 15 billion connected things and people to an estimated 500 billion connections.  It truly will change every facet of life for every citizen.

As Cisco connects the world in the Digital Age, a primary challenge addressed through CDA is cybersecurity. It's been called the 21st century's battleground. Every day, cybercriminals are stepping up their attacks against government systems around the world, and the casualties are piling up. At current estimates, the global cost of cybercrime could reach $6 trillion by 2021.

See also: Country Digitization Acceleration blueprint

The first country to partner with Cisco on a CDA program was France, and cybersecurity is embedded in every project spanning the full breadth of the country's digitization process.  According to French Minister of Defence Jean-Yves Le Drian, the number of cyber-attacks against his ministry is doubling each year and in 2016 about 24,000 external attacks had been blocked by security.  He is helping lead the charge in boosting France's resources in defending against them, even recently launching the country's first cyber-warfare army unit and committing an investment of €440 million for new cybersecurity solutions over the period 2014-2019.

At Cisco, we are proud to collaborate with France in the fight against this emerging threat, and we were thrilled to have Minister Le Drian personally award Cisco Executive Chairman John Chambers with the National Defence Gold Medal for our partnership in France. This is the first time a foreign business leader has been awarded the gold medal in its 35-year history. Chambers called this "one of the most important recognitions of his life."

The honor serves as a testament to Cisco's ongoing partnership with the French government to accelerate the country's digital transformation, which prioritizes cyber security in every key initiative, including developing a national network infrastructure, creating leading research chairs in major educational institutions, developing new smart city and regional initiatives, making investments in innovative start-ups and expanding France's innovation ecosystem.

John Chambers meets with President Francoise Hollande in Paris France earlier this month (March 1, 2017)

Since the signing of the agreement in February 2015, Cisco has worked closely with France to strengthen the country's national security. Last year, Cisco announced an unprecedented strategic collaboration with Thales, a global technology leader for the Aerospace, Transport, Defense and Security markets. We also joined forces with the Cyber Center of Excellence in Brittany. In addition, Cisco is working to help the French Ministry of Defence with strategic projects, and we created a video-enabled crisis management war room for the Department of Interior.  

See also: Lessons I've learned from conversations with global leaders

It takes courage to make the necessary changes to succeed in a digital world where cyber security is a must, and we're proud to help lead the charge, both in France and globally. Congratulations to John and the team on this incredible achievement!  With a passion for digitizing the world, the future truly belongs to Cisco and our CDA countries.

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