Mister Beacon Episode #130
Inside the World’s Largest Indoor Location Services Platform - Cisco DNA SpacesMay 27, 2021
Can you guess what the world's largest indoor location services platform is?
Cisco’s DNA Spaces platform handles over 1 trillion location updates from 1 million access points deployed across 120,000 locations worldwide, so it is a serious contender for this title. The strategic implications of a giant like Cisco building a services platform like this impacts the entire ecosystem of customers and vendors that are in adjacent and overlapping spaces.
This week we have the opportunity to get a look inside DNA Spaces with Product Manager Lucas Hanson. Tune in to learn how Cisco is digitizing physical spaces at an unprecedented scale and how you can harness the data from your existing Cisco wireless infrastructure to turn it into consumable insights and actionable business outcomes.
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Steve Statler 00:18
Welcome to the Mr. Beacon Podcast, the show for solutions as designers at the intersection of the digital and the physical. I am really pleased this week to have Lucas Hansen on the show from Cisco. Lucas, welcome.
Lucas Hanson 00:35
Thanks for having me, Steve, I'm super excited to be here.
Steve Statler 00:38
So Lucas, you are on the Cisco DNA spaces team. And I kind of spot my hook, which I was gonna ask the audience, what is the biggest indoor location services platform in the industry? And obviously, the answer is Cisco DNA spaces, Cisco's massive you have a huge amount of power. I think it's a real interesting comment on this space that we work on the Cisco has decided to build the platform. So tell us what is DNA spaces?
Lucas Hanson 01:16
Sure stage. So you can think about DNA spaces, and maybe we zoom out to the 30,000 foot level here. So at the core word, outcomes cloud, right, we support the line of business, OT, you know, facilities, so so we support them, and it to achieve business outcomes. Right? Now we do this through really a great indoor location, or location, cloud and an IoT services kind of portion of that, like marrying these two things together, both Wi Fi and IoT. And through, you know, I'd say a very kind of robust and focused partner ecosystem, with devices and applications. So but but at the core of it, you know, we're trying to bridge this world, between it line of business, OT, etc. So that, like, you know, like you, I think you said in the past, we can converge that physical and digital space to achieve outcomes?
Steve Statler 02:24
And what are the features and functions of DNA spaces? It's something that as a Cisco customer, I don't have to have, is that correct? Why would I want it? What would I do with it?
Lucas Hanson 02:37
Yeah, so let me divide this up in maybe two parts. I'll try to be concise. And I may say this later on in the podcast, and I may not be concise, but I apologize. Alright, so let's say one category is around the types of outcomes we're delivering. Okay. So there's kind of three, three items here to talk about. So the first one is around location services. So this is the kind of traditional Wi Fi type of services you might expect. And we married this concept of back to business and that. So think about, you know, using your access points as a sensor to understand behavior of people in the space. And then also using those access points as a way to bring folks back to business. So, you know, all the way from saying, and we have this set up in our sitting, like in Cisco offices, saying this is how many people are in a space at this time, right. And if it goes over a certain threshold, we alert the business or maybe people on site to, you know, to other kind of like use cases, where we're able to say, Hey, you know, if someone's self reports, you know, these are the people that may have been around not, I should say, these are not the people, but these are the devices that were in that area in time and space. So there's a lot you can do simply with the access points that are already there a ton. That's the first bucket. The second bucket is around IoT services. So we call it indoor IoT services. And this is, and we may get into this kind of in the future. But this is essentially creating a framework where any device that is in this framework and in the ecosystem can enable any application, right? So you may have a device, let's say from contact IO, that measures measures temperature. Now, in the old world, I'm sorry, so. So let me just say, in the old world, you'd have some proprietary technology stack, like this device, talk to this gateway, talk to this application, right. And if you're, you know, if you're it or your line of business, if you want to do asset tracking app, divide this stuff And then next month, I want to do occupancy, I gotta buy this stack, right. And as you add outcomes, you got to buy more and more stacks. So what we're doing in IoT services is we're saying, look, you have a layer, that's device, okay, you have a layer, that's middleware, you have a layer, that's application. So going back to contact, let's say, we have a contact i o beacon, it measures temperature, let's say measure humidity, right? any application can use this device, right. And in the middle, where we do that kind of connection between the app and the device, we have like security and privacy kind of frameworks, we can manage multiple types of vendors here. So So that's the second category is around, enabling this many to many architecture, you know, creating a solution that's lower total cost of ownership, easier to deploy, user scale, monitored, etc, etc. Alright, so that's the second piece run out to services. And then that third piece is around onboarding. So we call it next generation onboarding. You know, there, we've we've had a great like, worldcast class captive portal, the best captive portal out there. And you know, you go to a hotel, how do you get on, you get onto the captive portal.
Steve Statler 06:17
So this is the thing. So I so we go to connect to the Wi Fi. And before we get onto the Wi Fi, a page pops up? And that's coming from Cisco DNA spaces.
Lucas Hanson 06:29
Yeah, like us? Yeah. Just real quick. So we're doing other things around, making it easier to connect to the to the, to the network, right. So we have something called Open roaming, it's a new standard so that users can automatically onboard into a network, we work with carriers, so that you go from cellular to Wi Fi. And then we have an SDK that you can put in an application. So you know, if, let's say your, your retail brand, and you have an app that your customers are using, when they walk into the store, you automatically get on the network. So those are kind of the three, three buckets of value, or, you know, that first category. Any questions there, Steve, I know, I was not concise.
Steve Statler 07:15
I know it was very informative. I want to just understand or clarify. So this is optional, right? But it does cost something What are we talking here? Obviously, your customers range from? Like, we're about to expand our offices in San Diego, and I'm thinking is we should look at this because we need to start putting some structure in place. But really, it's still a startup? Is this something that's affordable for a startup? Or is it only for very large enterprises?
Lucas Hanson 07:50
I mean, it runs the runs the range? So is it affordable? I would say yes, I think there's a ton of value that we're delivering, right. And it really depends on the use cases that you're looking at. So if will wants to do like some space occupancy use cases they want to do? I mean, you all have expensive lab equipment, I'm sure some asset tracking, you know, it really depends on what you're trying to achieve. And the ROI, right of that, and coming back down to how much you're going to pay. And we do have like bundles, you know, we have different types of pricing, and all that stuff. So we usually get to a good spot with customers.
Steve Statler 08:35
And how is it? How is it structured? So I'm not gonna ask you for absolute amount, but is there like a horizontal bit? And then optional modules? Tell us a bit about Yeah.
Lucas Hanson 08:47
So we have, we have three tiers, or three different subscriptions. So we have something called si. Si is, you know, this is the the tiered, it's usually the least expensive, or it is the least expensive to include in most of our bundles. This gives you insights into how people are moving within the space, right, a lot of the insights that you can glean from wireless, we have something called detect and locate that helps with like identifying where things are open roaming, including that and a few other things. The second kind of the tear in this, the subscriptions is extend. So we have you know, we deal with partners a little bit differently than other folks in the industry. We have some our partner framework has different elements like we have something called a fyros API. So it's a Streaming API. It's really built for IoT and a ton of events coming through it like it's built for scale, like literally, and you can get wireless events, you know, temperature events, occupancy events, a bunch of different stuff in the same fire hose. We monitor partner applications and the data stream so no joke. Generally, I think what happens is a partner gets an API. And then everybody kind of walks away. And you say, okay, the job's done, right? Like for DNA spaces, and we can talk about partnership and my calc, I think our team super passionate about it. But, you know, we want to help support the entire use case. And that means that, you know, we kind of, we are able to see that data flow from the customer premise all the way to the partner path, we monitor the partner application, that's something we work out with partners. So we know if it's working, if it's not working. And then we're able to actually notify customers, if something goes down, we're proactive about it, we triage with the partner. So it becomes a combined effort to support use cases. But anyway, access to kind of the fyros API, the partner ecosystem, it sits in that extend tier. And then the third one is called act. And this is where we're helping deliver outcomes, you know, to customers, either with native DNA spaces applications, through IoT. And so there's there's a ton that sits in act all the way from some of the onboarding things I mentioned, to asset location, to all of this kind of awesome IoT ecosystem we're building out.
Steve Statler 11:15
So you mentioned native apps, and you've talked about partners. I think that's why were some of the biggest questions lately to be from our listeners and viewers. A lot of them work for startups and larger companies that are in this space. And I think some of them may be a little scared when they hear that you are offering a lot of things that sound like things that they offer to a you competing with the startups or not.
Lucas Hanson 11:47
I look you asked me, I'm going to tell you absolutely not. So here's, Steve, we talked about this before. So you're I think you're smiling, because you know, I'm about to get on my soapbox. So let me just like put this out here. I think the first thing is, is that this IoT and location services market, like relative to what it can be, I think it's a small pie, right? And how I see my job. And like the team I work on, right? And DNA spaces, it's way more than just me, like, all the success is attributed to others. And I'm a minor part of that. I want that to be very cool.
Steve Statler 12:26
Just great as you're right. What, tell us a little bit briefly. Yeah. So from your hat to other people, but that's where you fit in? Yeah,
Lucas Hanson 12:36
so so I'm Product Manager. I have a few folks on my team. And what we're primarily responsible is the partner ecosystem. So our application partners, consumers of data, delivering use cases, our IoT device marketplace, essentially generators of the data, right. And then also IoT services as it sits inside kind of the DNA spaces platform. also work on other projects in terms of like, what's new on the roadmap, like what's coming up helping execute on these to get it to invalidate the concepts, right to get them to market readiness? And I do a few other things. It's my role in a nutshell.
Steve Statler 13:18
Very good. Thank you. So back to my provocative question, is Cisco declaring war on the all the partners in the space? No. I believe Yes.
Lucas Hanson 13:30
Okay, good. All right. So, any, okay, so the pie can be much bigger. Like, I think no one's gonna disagree with that. So let's come back to the question of why is it a small pie? Here's our thesis. It's a small pie. Because location services, IoT services, it's a hard problem, right? It's tough to scale it. Okay. In for our partners, it's tough to support it. This has been kind of repeatedly told to me different versions over the past two and a half years, two years. So what we want to do is spaces. We wanted to make it easier for our partners to play in, in the market, right? You want to reduce support costs, reduce cogs, more access to customers, you know, a better customer experience, all these different things. So if I'm measured on one thing from my boss, it's the success of our partners, right? Like, Lucas, how are our partners doing? I mean, I hear that every every week, right? So anyway, so coming back, so do we compete? No, we we do believe that this is not a zero sum game, the pie will grow. And we see it as our mission to enable partners both on the application side and on the device side to be successful. Now will they'll be like, will we negotiate? Will we talk will we find common ground of course, right? I think that you have a ton of companies out there who have been in this space for a very long time. And they, you know, they kind of play in the same space that we do. Now, to be honest, especially in IoT side, like being the middleware is a huge pain for people. I mean, this is what again, I've heard this quite a bit like nobody, like the margins on gateways are small, you know, their services are on cable poles, it's expensive. It's hard to scale. Like, there's a ton of problems there. That's the beauty of Cisco being in the space is like, our infrastructure is already in place. You don't have to do any cable poles, right? You don't have to do any of that we are we're already there. And so we naturally fit in. So yeah, so I mean, in my mind, you know, we want partners absolutely be successful. And we'll work with you everyday to do that. On the application side, or sorry, Steve, I am keeping. I keep talking. I'll pause.
Steve Statler 16:02
No, that's great. So I saw your central set a lot of things. But one of the key things that I absolutely support and agree with is IoT, as a category has really underperformed, and we shouldn't be thinking about market share, we should be asking ourselves, why is this market which is about connecting everything in the digital wealth, with everything in the physical health? You know, it should be ginormous, and it's really pretty small. And I think you put your finger on the problem, which is infrastructure infrastructure is really hard. And fortunately, you guys have a massive market share. I don't know whether you're allowed to or know what the market share you have is between catalyst and Meraki, but it's pretty ginormous, isn't it? It's massive. Its massive. Yeah. So if we can leverage that and ride that we can scale faster. And that's the thing that everyone cares about. I think
Lucas Hanson 17:01
I agree. And, and we want to, we don't, you know, we talked about these proprietary stacks. Like, look, we will have applications that do some things, but we're never going to go super deep in the vertical, like, we may have an app that shows you where this thing is on a map, right. But we're not going to create an app, let's say in healthcare that has, you know, EHR integrations, that meets Jayco standards that, look, there are other people out there that spend every day of their life trying to solve these problems for a specific user type, they are best positioned to solve the problem, we're best position to enable them.
Steve Statler 17:45
So it's really clear how a device company like contact IO fits in because you guys don't make those little beacons that they make. And they have some very specialized hardware that goes beyond what the access point can do. And we we had a chief revenue officer on this actually the episode that's just gone out before this one. And he certainly made a very good case for what you just described from his side of it. The thing that's less clear to me is where the middleware players fit in. And I think you can have you made a very good case for the vertical application. So Cisco is not going to have something that's focused on either drug trials or, or adherence monitoring, or things like that. How does a company like point to labs fit in? Because they're fairly horizontal, as I understand it, but you seem to have them on the platform as well?
Lucas Hanson 18:52
Yeah. And with pointer, I mean, I think we have a great I don't know if you've had like a guy on the on the podcast, but we've got a great relationship there, too. So now, if we look at pointer, for example, they, so let's, this is really where we can do some cool stuff. So with pointer, what we're doing is and not just pointer like, we were beginning with pointer, you know, but any navigation company has access to this, we've created a, an API for, you know, a location anchor API, essentially. And in this API, a customer or I'm sorry, a partner can pull in, you know, location of the beacon UID major minor transmission levels and some other things. So we can work with a company like poyner, right? And we can reduce the amount of services that they have to set the customer up, because we can programmatically get them that information, which they may typically have to send somebody on site to do right around the fingerprinting. So you know, this is this is, I think a great example of where we worked with a company. And we were able to kind of figure out how to add value to them kind of through the middleware.
Steve Statler 20:08
Very good. And how do what about discovery of those applications that are sitting on your platform? Do you see yourselves as an app store? How do I figure out whether a given partner works? works with DNA spaces? And what's what does that relationship look like?
Lucas Hanson 20:32
Yeah, great question. So we do have an app, we DNA spaces App Center, you can go through there and see the app, I think we had about 45 apps in there, maybe around 50, we do have a product manager who's laser focused on like, app partner success, making sure that they get in the App Center that they're successful after they're in there. And it's a it's a similar to any other apps, you're gonna see description, screenshots, these are the use cases that the app partner does. And something that's also kind of cool about it is, again, unlike other folks, other folks in the industry, you can actually activate the app directly through the cloud, right? So you don't have to get into an appliance. You don't have to send somebody on site. You know, it all happens. Click Click, click, the app is activated data center for
Steve Statler 21:25
you. Okay, another area for people that have followed Cisco, which a lot of people have, how does all this relate to C MX? What was CMS and CMS relate to this?
Lucas Hanson 21:40
Great question. So just think of like, so I mentioned the acquisition of July systems. So when July systems was acquired, they brought with it a ton of things. One of it being like a very mature, very robust location, location, cloud, it had been around, I think, for maybe 1011 years, maybe maybe longer, right, one of the first cloud services on AWS. So ton of experience there now cdmx, on premise, you know, appliance is a hardware, this capability was subsumed by dna spaces, you can think about that way. So DNA spaces is in the you can call it an evolution. So CMS is still part of the DNA spaces offering. The majority of the capability and kind of the future is in DNA space, it's going to proper through what we call like, the connector. Yeah, but CMS is still there. And you just think of spaces is an evolution of that,
Steve Statler 22:42
then? Well, first of all, an observation and then a final question about where DNA spaces is going. As, as industry observers, we kind of look at these things. And it's clear that Cisco is not going away as one of the few companies, you can say it's got a very secure feature future. But I think when ever anyone from the outside looks at a new program like this, they have to decide well, is this you know, how long is this going to be around for and even though Cisco is not going to disappear? Maybe CMYK spaces, right. But I was convinced that this is hitch stay big when I spoke to one of your sales, guys, because I got a very clear impression that this is strategically important. And actually your sales forces comped on it. So there's a lot of things that Cisco sells that, that maybe are kind of seen as more discretionary in your sales team's portfolio. But it seems like there's a major emphasis on that. So I'm interested in anything you want to say to amplify that in terms of the future of DNA spaces, and you know, what we should look for in terms of where it's where it's headed?
Lucas Hanson 23:58
Yeah, that's great. Thanks. Thanks for the opportunity. So no, one thing that we want to do is increase the we want to be able to, you know, first and foremost, like our core competency, Location Services continue that continue to enhance that. Recently, the IoT services portion, right, to continue to from like a device side, expand that ecosystem, expand our partner ecosystem, these are all very important things to us. We are also, you know, starting to expand the the technology from an IoT perspective, and the different sources of data. So for instance, depending on when this podcast drops, in May, we'll be releasing a gateway for the switch. So that will now be able to work with wired POV devices, other kind of wired IoT sensors, even like video. So we'll bring that functionality into spaces. And then, you know, I would look for next next fiscal year or, you know, the second half of this calendar year for us to be continued to doing more in the IoT space, right. More different types of technologies, different use cases that will meet. And all this is a partnership with device vendors with application partners, right? It's not just, it's not just us, we, you know, we work with the ecosystem to make it better. Right. And so we're here to stay. Okay, see, so, we'll be around.
Steve Statler 25:38
I believe that, and I'm sure you'll have lots of interesting partners joining the program. And it sounds like some pretty cool functionality as well. Lucas, thanks very much for spending time with us. I have really enjoyed the conversation, I hope that people will continue to listen, we took some time out one on one to talk a bit about your background and how you got to where you get to got to so Lucas, thanks again. Thanks so much. Thank you. And thank you, all of the viewers, listeners, subscribers, we really appreciate it, please do. Tell your friends rank us on your favorite source of discovering podcasts. I want to thank Nelson Hernandez who edits this show, Jessie Hazelrigg, who is our producer. And I also want to thank Starbucks who are not a sponsor, but they do provide a job for my son who's on the on the spectrum is 21 years old. And before Starbucks came along, he didn't have a job. And now he just loves working at Starbucks. So I'm going to say thank you to Starbucks. Thanks, again, to all of you for tuning in. I'd love to hear about three songs that are meaningful to you. As opposed to forget the Mars thing we used to ask people about the trip to Mars. So you can either disregard that change of context or consider it, but let's start our discussion off with talking about music. Lucas, what what's three songs that are meaningful to you?
Lucas Hanson 27:21
That Yeah, that's a great question, Steve. Okay, the first one is the the general by dispatch. So when I was in, so I went to West Point. And when I was in college there, one of one of my colleagues, you know, a fellow cadet had passed away, at the end of a, I think, is at the end of like, a marathon or a really long run. Right at the end of it. And, you know, we so we got in the bus, we went to the funeral. I'm sorry, you know, again, I apologize to make this sad. But you know, during the funeral, they played that song. And that's just like, that's just the song that you know, and that was in the military. And, you know, it really resonates and it has meaning. And even like, the message I, you know, kind of resonates with me, bringing it back to like, what's important in life, almost, you know, and how you, and I'm not saying like, the band dispatches, like, leadership, like a thought leader, and leadership and management, but just kind of like even in the lyrics a little bit. You know, that selflessness, and, and that attitude. So that's one song to
Steve Statler 28:43
choice. Fantastic. Thank you for that. Yeah.
Lucas Hanson 28:47
Let's see, the second one is float on by Modest Mouse. So this is another one that helps me put stuff in perspective in I don't know, sometime again, during I guess, college was a fairly formative time in my life, where you just put that that song on and you can just again, come back to kind of what's clear and what's important and, and honestly even know, I deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, obviously been in stressful situations since then. And that's just always something that you put on and you kind of like, it's, it's okay. Like, there's other things, you know, there's other things in life. So that's that one.
Steve Statler 29:30
I have. I've always thought that that military experience must be such an incredible foundation for people that are in working in high tech because I think, you know, working in high tech, everyone's running a million miles an hour. It's pretty stressful. But then I think because I work with a lot of people in Israel, where pretty much well everyone that I work with has been in the military and I and you know, when we're working in a time crunch or There's a lot of competing things. I think about that. And then I think about my colleagues who have literally driven tanks over landmines, and I think, wow, this is just nothing compared to that. This is just nothing.
Lucas Hanson 30:14
I think. I think that's a great point. It's a good point, Steve, I think like, there's two pieces to that, right? Think like, item number one, it's, you can always be like, well, at least no one's shooting at me. Right? Like, at least I'm not in Iraq, or wherever you're, you're at, like, check the box there, right, it could be worse. And, and 99.99% of the time, no one's gonna, there's gonna be no loss of life, no loss of limb, right, you may lose a bunch of money, you may lose. A customer may be unhappy, but you can recover, everything's recoverable, that just the second piece here is like, and you're, you know, I know the business you're in, right? Where there's some things that you're doing that supports, it supports the livelihood of people, you know, in the same thing and spaces, some of the use cases that we support, you know, like, give them protection, for example, or employee safety, like those are serious. So the other side of this is like, you have a perspective on very serious things. And you can bring that intensity. And I think like rigor to the situations and help the word in articulate that to the people who may have not been in these situations
Steve Statler 31:32
before. Amazing. So, first two choices down, what was the third one that you had in mind?
Lucas Hanson 31:38
So the third song, it's a, it's the over the rainbow, over over the rainbow. The artist, he's a Hawaiian artist. I forget his name. But so we played this song at my wedding with my wife, which we had and why it's while stationed Hawaiian. And then, you know, we had it again, my dad and my father recently passed away. And, you know, we also played it then, because he spent a lot of time in Hawaii, and he really enjoyed it. So I think those are kind of three like super meaningful songs. You know, otherwise, I got a very eclectic taste. Really, I like pretty much everything. Yeah,
Steve Statler 32:23
I feel the same way. I probably have a bit of a shallow spot with regard to country music, but pretty much everything else, although I love it. And there's a few other bluegrass things that are I guess, that's related relative of country music. Excellent. So how did you get? Well, first of all, how did you end up in the in the in the military? Let's see you were in there for a while, like, six years or something like that? How did you end up there?
Lucas Hanson 32:54
Yeah, so this is just my personality. So junior senior year of high school, we had a recruiter from West Point Comm. And they've kind of put everything out in front of me. And it was, it was cool, right. And, and, and essentially, in my mind, it was this is the rational that it was like, This is the hardest thing I could do at the time. And that's just kind of my personality is I will generally, out of the options. One of the things I weighed on is like the complexity of the challenge of it, right. And so that's why I ended up going to West Point in the first place. And then, you know, being at West Point, and just being with like, kind of those caliber of individuals who had a similar kind of mindset and drive, I really enjoyed my time there, you know, obviously made some great, you know, long lifelong relationships. And that kind of propelled me into the military for six years.
Steve Statler 34:03
And from from West Point to Iraq, to Cisco. And Cisco is obviously an incredibly important company, a lot of power and position and pretty ubiquitous, dominated segment. And you're working on DNA spaces, which I think in itself is very important in this area that we focus on, which is the convergence of physical and digital. I like to ask our guests how they got their job, because I think a lot of us who kind of observe the industry, you know, it's it's, it's fascinating to understand how people get to where they got to, how did you get from West Point to Iraq to being this key member of the DNA spaces team?
Lucas Hanson 34:58
Yeah. I'll try to tell this As concisely as I can, but I think there's some kind of cool, cool parts of the story. So, in 2012, I transitioned out of the military, right. And I got a role with Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco. And in my younger mind, great location, you know, good salary, you know, aligns with my skill set. You know, fast forward, I go to San Francisco, and you know, the dollar doesn't go so far there. It goes even less for now. So anyway, I worked in, I worked in Kaiser for a couple years, learn quite a bit. And honestly, like the great team there that we worked with, and we're doing really, I think, fantastic things, it was in clinical technology. From there, I went to business school, so University of San Francisco, and really my, my goal coming out of business school that I thought was, you know, hey, go join a startup, do something that's small. fortuitously, much during that, you know, first and second year, I had a friend that had gone to we deployed together in Iraq. And I was like, telling the story, because it it really kind of like, brings to light the power of a network, and, you know, who you know, and why it's why all this stuff is important. And, and so, you know, he had gone to Cisco to interview for an internship, he gone to a few other companies as well, he ended up taking another offer. And he said, Hey, Lucas, I have this, the hiring managers asked me if I know anybody, right? Now, about a week or two previous to that I got, and I listened to some speaker and the speaker, she said, you know, be able to tell people what you want to do. Like, it can be a 60 70% 80% solution, but tell people how they can help you. And so that's, you know, I had that conversation with my buddy was like, This is what I want to do. So when the hiring manager asked them, Do you know anybody, he's just like, I know the guy. Right? Because I had been articulate about what I wanted to do. And by happenstance, you know, I, when I interviewed, I got the internship. And then that kind of transferred into a full time role at Cisco. And in 2016, I started there, and I started job rotation program. So it's for MBA grads coming out and wanting to be, you know, become a product manager. I started in a strategy role. And, and this is like, you know, ex McKinsey x, BCG Bain strategy. And, and for me, that was super formative, because I wasn't great with slides. I have a lot of like execution experience, and executing really good at that. But you know, hadn't had a lot of development around strategy. And really the rigor associated with strategy. I mean, it's not just, you know, you know, the porters and it's not frameworks, it's actually getting in the weeds and doing hard work. And so I did that for about a year and a half. And then I went into a position in enterprise routing, where I worked on edge compute, and some of the virtualization.
Steve Statler 38:22
But just I'm gonna hit the pause button here, because I'm interested in the strategy role. So it sounds like you joined a bunch of management consultants who are part of Cisco, what what are they doing in Cisco? What, what's the role of that team?
Lucas Hanson 38:38
Yeah, so I mean, Cisco has the, you know, in every function, super, super smart people. Right. And I think that there's, you know, there is, you'll probably find this in a lot of large companies, you'll have people who come from these backgrounds that can help, you know, structure problems, well help, you know, research whose problems well help communicate them well. Back to the business, right. And so that, you know, the business has a good understanding of the market of opportunities. Everything that comes with the strategy kind of roll, right. So it was a is a great team. And, you know, I don't know where everybody is today. It was a few years ago, but uh, it was, it was really good.
Steve Statler 39:27
Very good. I interrupted you how you went from that, and what's the last step?
Lucas Hanson 39:33
Okay, so the last step, and this is, again, it's like being clear with what you want, right? So in the program I was in every year you rotate into a new job and, and you have an idea of what you want to do for your own growth for the company, what interests you and obviously like the company, Cisco, in this case, has a set of positions. So going into my third year, you know, I had a very clear kind of idea of what I wanted to do. And it was, I want to do something where I can deliver value quickly, right, I can iterate quickly on customer feedback and get that back. Typically, you'll find this in products that are like cloud delivered, right? It's just the nature of the cloud. And I wanted to do something new, something from zero to one. And I had this mentor, and she's a friend as well. But you know, she, she helped out with the program. I told her this. And she's like, I know, the perfect person for you. And so at the same time, Cisco was going through an acquisition with July systems. And this team eventually kind of became DNA spaces. So the founder of July systems are just ready. You know, my mentor, she had a call with him that day or the day, the next day, and she said, Lucas, just take my slot. Just take my slot, you can talk to rejection, and, and generous. Yeah, very generous. And so I spoke with them. We had a chat. And I think like, you know, obviously, I'm the team today. So he liked it, or he needed a warm body, one of the two. And this is kind of fortuitous. Right. And it's it is because I think part of it was you have a network. Again, I don't come from a background. My my, my bachelor's degree is in philosophy. I have a philosophy, Bachelors of Science from West Point. I mean, come on, like, maybe not the best decision looking back, but I did it. But But you know, it's kind of clear with what I wanted. And people helped me. And this is kind of how I got into the role and just been moving forward and, you know, executing sense. Yeah.
Steve Statler 41:49
So a couple of questions. I want to come back to the philosophy thing in a second. But you mentioned you had a mentor, is this part of is that like a formal role at Cisco? Or did you just decide that this person was going to be your mentor? What was the deal there?
Lucas Hanson 42:05
No, I so Cisco, I do believe they have a formal mentorship program. button this case, you know, I, like I had gone through some challenging times before, just from my own self development. And this lady had, she had helped me quite quite a bit in kind of during the course of that we developed the, you know, a mentor mentee relationship. And it just, it just happened, I think, and it turned out well,
Steve Statler 42:34
very good. And this philosophy idea, I noticed that in your bio, and I think she met a few people in the technology business who've got that philosophy background. And I think it's very relevant. I mean, in technology, we're dealing with a lot of abstract concepts. It requires acuity of mind. And it seems like philosophy is the purest channel of study where you hone those mental skills. And at the end of the day, what we do is all about using your mind, so I don't see any contradiction at all there. I'm just interested in how you feel like your time studying philosophy has has helped you or has it not, maybe it's been, was it maybe it was completely recreational?
Lucas Hanson 43:27
No, I mean, at the time, it wasn't recreational, I thought I would need it one day for a job. But now I'd say that, I think, clear thinking, right. So there's a few super powers, I think other than, like, clear, structured thinking is one of them. And this really, you know, obviously, in college and going through philosophy, there's a lot of logic, there's a lot of like, how do you construct an argument, that sound you know how to use, there's a lot of this, I really kind of came to light whenever I went to that strategy role. Because you have to clearly think about the problems and structure those problems, you know, in an organized fashion. And then in the toughest thing, I think in technology sometimes, because you're right, we're dealing with like, abstract concepts in very ambiguous situations. I think in our market, it's even a bit more ambiguous, because while the technology has been here for a long time, I still think the market is fairly, you know, there's a there's a long ways that can go there's so much potential. So being able to take an ambiguous situation, sort that structure it clearly Think about it, and then create, like a plan to execute on it. I mean, that's, I'm not great at it. But I think that's something that, you know, is valuable as a skill set in whether the philosophy degree was part of it or, or not. I mean, it's certainly I don't know, it probably held
Steve Statler 45:02
I'm guessing it is very good. Well Lucas, thanks so much. I really enjoyed this, this conversation. Appreciate it. Thanks