ESI Team

How AI Fuels the Future of Work

June 28, 2023
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On the 25th episode of Enterprise Software Innovators, hosts Evan Reiser (Abnormal Security) and Saam Motamedi (Greylock Partners) talk with Paul Chapman, VP of Business Strategy at Cisco. Cisco is a leading global networking equipment, software, and services provider. In addition to Cisco, Paul's experience spans various industries and leading companies, including HP Enterprise and Box. In this conversation, Paul shares his perspective on AI, how technology will transform the future of work, and hard-fought lessons on innovation that have stuck with him throughout his career.

Like many forward-thinking technology executives, Paul is energized by the latest step changes in AI and its positive impacts on the future of work. Despite the challenges of the early pandemic, a new remote work paradigm has emerged, with AI technology playing a critical role in enabling streamlined and high-quality collaboration tools. Paul describes how AI enables suboptimal network connections not to be a hindrance: "We're able to take things now like a high definition video that cannot be sent over a low latency, low bandwidth network, we're able to use neural networks to take this downgraded video and with AI, replace the pixels that are missing and regenerate a higher quality video than the original one was recorded in." As these technologies continue to evolve, teams from across the globe can interact and collaborate with increasing ease. 

Three years removed from the pandemic, it's clear that with the rise of remote work and more flexibility around hybrid roles, companies looking to keep some employees in the office must reimagine these spaces. As we've heard from previous ESI guests, the future of commercial real estate relies on technological advancements, and Paul recognizes that the advent of 'smart buildings' will undoubtedly play an essential role in making the office what he calls 'a magnet and not a mandate.' From a technology perspective, Paul shares the next generation of buildings is harnessing various technology to make office workers more comfortable and, in turn, more productive: "...the amount of sensors and intelligence we can now get from buildings in terms of how they're being used, [helps us] make decisions around how we think about sustainability and occupancy. [For example], we can adjust the thermal temperature based upon [sensing] the number of people in a room. All these things now are programmable into buildings." 

In his current role at Cisco and prior CIO roles at HP Enterprise and Box, Paul has had a front-row seat to driving innovation and using technology to "take the work out of work." While at Box, he recalls implementing a new 2FA process that saved employees many hours of password resetting while creating a more frictionless experience. Since Box's clients are large companies with reams of sensitive data, security is always a top priority. As Paul describes it, "The problem is that when you go to reset your password, you have to typically enter an IT help desk ticket or go into some portal. We automated the two-factor authentication such that if we picked up that somebody had logged themselves out, we would send them a push to say, 'Did you lock yourself out? Do you want us to reset your password?' That one simple example saved hundreds of hours every year."  It's an important lesson all CIOs can relate to. Sometimes the best innovations aren't from the shiny new toys and most bleeding-edge tech. Instead, simple uses of existing technology and improved processes can often have an outsized impact.

Listen to Paul's episode here and read the transcript here.