Menon says sustainability is also a critical issue that needs to be addressed. It is known that the ICT industry generates about 2-3% of the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions worldwide, equivalent to the aviation industry. To meet this challenge, the next generation of the Internet must be sustainable by design. One goal is to rationalize the Internet infrastructure into a single network layer, which will simplify the network, reduce costs and create sustainability benefits by reducing energy consumption by 30-40%, according to Menon.
This is part of the solution, and Menon stresses the importance of industry collaboration to address significant environmental challenges, from resource consumption to e-waste and emissions, and create a more sustainable model for the future of the Internet. Looking to the future, Menon believes Cisco has the potential to serve as a catalyst for transformation and the responsibility to engage everyone.
Menon also serves an important role as a board member of the Cisco Foundation, addressing similar challenges. “At the Cisco Foundation, we address economic empowerment, critical human needs and education, and have made a renewed and greater commitment to climate and sustainability,” he says. “We also finance social entrepreneurs who are tackling systemic issues such as creating new technologies that will liberalize or open up markets where there are currently closed systems.”
They are still in the early stages of what will become the Internet of the future, which will require major investments in transforming legacy infrastructure, optimizing networks, and building new capabilities to deliver digital services.
“These kinds of transformations take about 10 years, and we’re at the very beginning of that journey,” Menon says. The supply chain challenges that many companies have faced due to the pandemic have not held back the progress of Menon and Cisco. Instead, he says he inspired them to find new ways to get products and services to market faster. “Because the supply chain and manufacturing are so tightly integrated, it has forced us to re-engineer and re-innovate and be agile again.”
Menon’s team is also involved in incorporating and anticipating new technological trends, such as Web 3.0 and the metaverse. “Web 3.0 principles are embedded in our design of new technologies for the Internet for the future,” Menon says, pointing to blockchain as a key technology in many of Cisco’s offerings and solutions. The metaverse, he adds, will require massive computing power, new applications, networking and cybersecurity, and delivering on the promises of the metaverse will mean partnering closely with hyperscalers and cloud service providers.
But for Menon, reinventing the Internet for future generations isn’t just about technology. It is about establishing clear principles for what we want to be as a global community and an opportunity to redress existing inequalities.
“The current model of the Internet needs a rethink,” concludes Menon. “We need to address major issues from the past and invest in more equitable and inclusive technology, smart public policy, and human-centered design to lead the internet for the future onto a new, higher success trajectory.”
Michael Kears, Director of Brunswick’s Singapore office, he has served more than 25 years as a journalist and editorial leader, including serving as Vice President, Digital and International Strategic Partnerships at CNBC International. Cecilia Oerting is an associate at Brunswick, also located in Singapore.
Illustration: Melinda Beck