Innovation Hackfest: Showcasing the power of partnership

by Rob Lopez

21 January 2021

Colleagues discussing analytics report

Topics in this article

If you can bank on one thing in the technology industry, it’s that it continually surprises you with the speed at which it adapts to meet the challenges of the world.

Finding innovative ways to meet the challenges posed by the UN Sustainable Development Goals is something that we set as the goal for the NTT Cisco Hackfest at the end of last year.

This 48-hour virtual event, in partnership with Cisco, challenged teams to use the power of Cisco technology to help solve some of the world’s more intractable problems. However, working with Cisco to solve big problems is nothing new for us as an organization. For over 29 years that we’ve been partnering with Cisco, we’ve always tried to seize the opportunity to help our clients find innovative solutions to their biggest challenges.

One of the aspects of this partnership that continues to amaze me is how it continually adapts to meet the challenges our clients are facing at any given time. This ability to evolve is the result of the innovative attitudes of both organizations. Some of us remember what cutting edge technology looked like in 1992; we were just entering the Windows era, the internet was just starting to become the powerful force that it is today, and we were only starting to see the emergence of what would eventually become the smartphone revolution.

The solutions our clients require have changed considerably over the years, including fundamental changes in how we use networks and how we communicate. At the start of the partnership, voice communication was the reserve of the traditional telcos, while video conferencing was complex, expensive, and more of a showcase than an everyday reality. The way we built the network and communications solution was pretty rigid, costly, and dependent on specific technology certifications and access to closed systems.

Colleagues having a chat in a bright, sunny office

Our partnership with Cisco continually reinvents itself to meet the needs of our clients

Fast-forward to today, and video and audio are an integral part of how we communicate, as well as being part of your data fee. Technology integration is focused less on individual technology certifications but more on open API’s that enable a much more agile method of development and integration, aimed at positively impacting the way users consume services.

A partnership that continually reinvents the possible

It’s in this spirit of making a difference that the Hackfest showcases the innovative nature of the partnership between us and Cisco. It’s a partnership that already forms the heart of many of the co-innovation initiatives that we have with our clients. One where we leverage the depth of knowledge inside both organizations to not only solve today’s business challenges, but also to drive the innovation agenda for our clients.

Tackling the UN Sustainability Goals as part of the Hackfest allowed our people to bring this level of innovation and apply it to issues they feel passionate about; issues that align with our goals of using Tech for Good and finding innovative ways that technology solutions can contribute to a more sustainable future.

I’m proud to congratulate the winners of the NTT Cisco Hackfest. The ideas and solutions that the teams submitted show the depth of understanding that our people have of Cisco’s technology capabilities and how this knowledge can be focused as an engine for change in the world.

Solution category: The All-Hands team designed a real-time virtual assistant that provides simultaneous contextual translation from speech to sign language for hearing impaired people. Using Cisco Webex and a plugin to capture a speaker’s voice, in any language and translating to both text and sign language.

Ideas category: The Intelligent Forests team proposed a solution using a network of Cisco wireless sensors and camera traps, as well as bioacoustics technology and drones, AI, machine learning, and IOT to prevent deforestation and wildfires.

“Our partnership shares a strong resolve and commitment to leveraging our technology and innovation to make a difference in the world, and the Hackfest exemplifies this shared purpose” said Chris Panzeca, Senior Director Global Strategic Partner Sales, Cisco.

With our people working from their homes and our offices across the world, we’ve gained an even greater insight into the value of our people as our most important asset. This applies just as much to the amazing ideas that came from the NTT Cisco Hackfest as it does to the work they do every day, using the power of partnership to help our clients to do great things.

Rob Lopez

Rob Lopez

Executive Vice President, Intelligent Infrastructure, NTT Ltd.