Kathy Ditto is the senior director for U.S. public sector marketing at Cisco.
The more than 20-year marketing vet joined Cisco in 2006 and is in charge of shaping how Cisco messages and advertises its products and solutions.
Ditto was collaboration solutions manager for Cisco’s public sector before elevating to her current position and also worked at Nortel Networks, Williams Communications Solutions, Enterasys Networks and Sprint Nextel Communications before going to Cisco.
In her interview with ExecutiveBiz, Ditto discusses mobility as an important aspect of Cisco’s growth, the many roles she’s held in business and Cisco’s overarching marketing strategy.
ExecutiveBiz: Briefly describe your position at Cisco?
Kathy Ditto: I was recently promoted to Senior Director for U.S. Public Sector Marketing at Cisco. My team is responsible for marketing to our federal, state and local government, and education customers within the United States. We work closely with our corporate marketing team, our public sector sales team and other marketing organizations within Cisco to make sure that we are sharing our products and solutions as they relate specifically to those vertical markets within public sector.
ExecutiveBiz: In what ways does that differ from your previous position?
Ditto: I moved from my Federal only responsibilities to all of Public Sector, giving me ownership beyond just the federal marketing team, which is now one of the entities that reports to me. In my new role I oversee various function areas including industry marketing, area marketing in support of the sales team, architecture or product marketing, and also marketing communications.
ExecutiveBiz: We’ve seen a heightened amount of competition, specifically in the federal contracting industry, throughout the last several years. In what way has this impacted Cisco’s marketing strategy?
Ditto: Our primary focus is to make sure that our marketing programs are meeting the needs of the customer whether federal, state and local government, or education. We’re very focused on customer pain points, as well as their missions and requirements. There are a lot of government legislated mandates that our customers need to comply with, and it is my job to ensure that we externally communicate that our solutions address those needs. Not just the budget implications and the challenges that are happening today, but also from a mandate and requirement standpoint.
ExecutiveBiz: Would you say that the changing market has maybe affected or changed Cisco’s overall marketing strategy?
Ditto: There hasn’t been a drastic change in our marketing strategy. I’ve been with Cisco for six years, and it’s really been more of an evolution. We’ve always been focused on the customer. What we’re trying to do now is find new and different and more influential ways to reach our customers, and more targeted ways to address their needs. This is the case whether from a budget standpoint and how they need to better save to invest, or around requirements or what’s happening from just an overall industry perspective.
ExecutiveBiz: What can we expect in terms of new services and technologies Cisco is working to deploy in the near future?
Ditto: One of the key growth areas for Cisco right now, from our public sector perspective, is definitely mobility, including video and TelePresence. They aren’t necessarily new, but there are some new and different ways to use these products. The challenges that government has today, and even from an entire public sector standpoint, is the ability to securely connect and collaborate, for that next generation workforce and/or workspace.
A lot of the solutions that we’re taking to market now address those needs and requirements, such as bring your own device (BYOD) and telework concerns and requirements. Also, Cloud –whether public, private or hybrid– and the ways that our customers would prefer to use the Cloud.
ExecutiveBiz: How has your past experience, including Nortel Networks and Williams Communications Solutions, helped you transition into your current executive role?
Ditto: A real advantage for me, definitely not by design but by happenstance, is that I’ve had the opportunity throughout my career – at different companies and then different positions within those companies – to work in almost all functional areas of the business. I’ve been an engineer. I’ve been a sales person. I’ve been a marketer at different levels, including industry product, services and field marketing. I’ve worked in finance. Really, the only areas I haven’t worked in are legal and contracts.
So, I’ve had the opportunity to see how the entire business works and how the different functions really relate to each other. That’s helped me in understanding the business process, whether it’s here at Cisco from a corporate standpoint or even within our customers. I’ve had a better perspective of the overall business operating procedures, which has helped me connect the dots. That’s been invaluable.