Most technology companies like to hire talent fresh out of college. In fact, some even poach college students; however, this is not the case at Cisco. Currently, the average employee at Cisco is around age 40. Now, however, the technology mogul looks set to shift their hiring practices and pursue recent grads as opposed to seasoned industry veterans. This shift in hiring concentration comes as a result of the companies focusing on software and services. While these changes may seem drastic, Cisco has seemingly laid out some solid logic.
As new technologies are developed and released more and more regularly, many users expect these new innovations to be highly user friendly. As such, companies are tasked with creating newly advanced technologies that are comprehensive without sacrificing usability. In order to meet these demands, Cisco has turned to procuring a younger workforce. “Millennials are particularly good at user experience and collaboration,” stated Lance Perry, VP at Cisco involved with talent for IT. Aside from a natural talent, millennials are being pursued for their expectations. Simply put, younger employees/users are able to better respond to user demands—particularly user interface. In being on the user-end of the spectrum, millennials are better conditioned with the user-friendly mentality—i.e. they expect the same intuitive user experience other users want and expect. As such, these employees are ideally suited to deliver products that answer this call.
Another strength Cisco is looking to cultivate from a younger workforce is familiarity. While recent grads may not have the industry experience like older employees do, they have been around computer all their lives. As such, they are more in tune with what consumers/users are looking for. Cisco CIO Rebecca Jacoby states, “In IT, user experience is not the first thing we think about,” “IT tends to think about risk management five times more often as user experience.” That being said, its clear the company believes themselves to be out of touch with their customers. Jacoby again states, “Customers [will] leave because they don’t like the way your website works.”
With all this in mind, user experience is clearly very important to Cisco. Currently Cisco fits employees with their full range of services—i.e. WebEx, IWE (Integrated Workforce Experience, and Telepresence—which enables full connection with the global workforce. While employees have been able to utilize this, millennials may find more practical ways to utilize usage. Again familiarity goes a long way—i.e. in using the services and software employees will have a better sense of what to work on and how to improve in augmenting collaboration and user experience.
It’s clear that Cisco thinks they’ve stumbled on a gap between their customers and staff. It’s also clear that they’re willing to make drastic changes to bridge this gap. That being said, the company looks set on expectations as opposed to expertise, and enthusiasm over experience. While this a commendable and bold direction, only time will tell if it will pay off.
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