Menon says sustainability is also an important issue that needs to be addressed. The ICT industry is known to generate around 2-3% of the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions worldwide, which is equivalent to the aviation industry.. To meet this challenge, the next generation of the Internet must be sustainable by design. The first focus is on simplifying Internet infrastructure at a single network layer, which will simplify the network, reduce costs, and achieve sustainability benefits by reducing energy consumption by 30-40%, according to Menon.
That’s part of the solution, and Menon stressed the importance of industrial collaboration to address critical environmental challenges – from resource consumption to e-waste and emissions – and to create a more sustainable model for the future of the Internet. Looking ahead, Menon believes that Cisco has the potential to be a catalyst for transformation and the responsibility to bring everyone together.
Menon also plays an important role as a member of the Cisco Corporation’s board of directors, as he deals with similar challenges. “At Cisco, we address 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 issues such as creating new technology that will liberalize or open up markets where there are currently closed systems.”
It is still the early stages of what will become the Internet of the future, which will require major investments in transforming legacy infrastructure, simplifying networks, and building new digital service delivery capabilities.
“These kinds of transitions take about 10 years, and we’re at the beginning of that journey,” Menon says. The supply chain challenges many companies have faced due to the pandemic have not held back Menon and Cisco’s progress. Instead, he says, it inspired them to find new ways to bring products and services to market faster. “Because the supply chain and manufacturing are so closely integrated, this has forced us to re-engineer, reinvent, and be more flexible again.”
Menon’s team also focuses on integrating and anticipating new technology trends, such as Web 3.0 and the metaverse. “Web 3.0 principles are embedded in our design for new Internet technologies for the future,” Menon says, pointing to blockchain as a key technology in many of Cisco’s offerings and solutions. He adds that the metaverse will require massive computing power, new applications, networking and cybersecurity, and fulfilling the promises of the metaverse will mean partnering closely with hyperscalers and cloud service providers.
But for Menon, reimagining the internet for future generations isn’t just about technology. It is about setting clear principles for who we want to be as a global community and an opportunity to address existing inequalities.
“The current model of the Internet needs to be rethought,” concludes Menon. “We need to address key issues from the past and invest in more equitable and inclusive technology, smart public policy, and human-centred design to take the Internet of the future to a new, higher path of success.”
Michael KearnsAnd Principal in the Brunswick office in Singapore, he has served for more than 25 years as a journalist and editor-in-chief, including as CNBC International’s Vice President of International Digital and Strategic Partnerships. Cecily Orting He is a partner in Brunswick also located in Singapore.
Illustration: Melinda Beck