Menon says sustainability is also a critical issue that needs to be addressed. The ICT industry is known to generate about 2-3% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions worldwide, which is equivalent to the aviation industry† To meet this challenge, the next generation of internet must be designed sustainably. One area of focus is to streamline the Internet infrastructure into a single network layer, which will simplify the network, reduce costs and deliver sustainability benefits by reducing energy consumption by 30-40%, Menon said.
This is part of the solution, and Menon emphasizes the importance of industry collaboration to tackle the major environmental challenges – from resource consumption to electronic waste and emissions – and create a more sustainable model for the future of the Internet. Looking ahead, Menon believes Cisco has the potential to be a catalyst for transformation and has a responsibility to take everyone on board.
Menon also plays an important role as a board member of the Cisco Foundation, addressing similar challenges. “At the Cisco Foundation, we focus on economic empowerment, critical human needs, and education, and we have made a renewed and greater commitment to climate and sustainability,” he says. “We also fund social entrepreneurs who address systemic problems, such as creating new technology that will liberalize or open markets where there are currently closed systems.”
It is still an early stage of what will become the Internet of the future, requiring major investments in transforming legacy infrastructure, streamlining networks and building new capabilities to deliver digital services.
“Those kinds of transformations take about 10 years, and we’re at the beginning of that journey,” Menon says. The supply chain challenges many companies have faced as a result of the pandemic have not held back Menon and Cisco’s progress. Instead, he says it’s inspired them to find new ways to get products and services to market faster. “Because supply chain and manufacturing are so tightly integrated, it forced us to redesign and innovate, and to be agile again.”
Menon’s team is also focused on incorporating and anticipating new technology trends, such as Web 3.0 and the metaverse. “The principles of Web 3.0 are embedded in our design of new technologies for the Internet for the future,” Menon says, referring to blockchain as a key technology in many of Cisco’s offerings and solutions. The metaverse, he adds, requires massive computing power, new applications, networks, and cybersecurity, and delivering on the metaverse’s promises means working closely with hyperscalers and cloud service providers.
But for Menon, reinventing the Internet for future generations isn’t just about the technology. It’s about establishing clear principles for who we want to be as a global community and an opportunity to eliminate existing inequalities.
“The current Internet model needs a rethink,” Menon concludes. “We need to tackle the big problems of the past and invest in more fair and inclusive technology, smart public policies and people-centered design to take the Internet to a new, higher success trajectory for the future.”
 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2666389921001884#:~:text=Peer%2Dreviewed%20studies%20estimate%20ICTs, between%202.1%25%20and%203.9%25.
Michael Kearns† a director in Brunswick’s Singapore office, spent more than 25 years as a journalist and editor-in-chief, including Vice-President of International Digital and Strategic Partnerships for CNBC International. Cecilie Oerting is an Associate at Brunswick, also based in Singapore.
Illustration: Melinda Beck