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Shipping Tech to Protect Healthcare Heroes


It all started on March 22 after Cisco pledged $225 million to the global COVID-19 pandemic relief effort.

Employees in San Jose struck up an idea to offer DX80 video conferencing display units — located in recently emptied San Jose offices during shelter-in-place restrictions — to healthcare workers on the frontline in the battle against the pandemic.

The machines could be used for patient check-ins and telehealth consultations at some of the leading healthcare facilities located in hard-hit areas across the U.S.

But the team faced some challenges to pull this off quickly. The equipment needed to be carefully removed, thoroughly cleaned, properly tested, and safely packaged for shipping.

Cisco also needed to connect with hospitals and healthcare providers to identify the right end users — those with the greatest need — all while keeping those involved in the donation effort safe.

Preparing the San Jose units for shipping
Preparing the San Jose units for shipping

Getting from Point A to B

The logistics to get the machines to the hospitals were daunting. Just ask Bailey Szeto, VP, IT.

It’s a lot more complicated than just going to the office, picking up the units, and delivering them to hospitals.

“We had to figure out exactly which offices had the highest density of units to take, how to safely collect them, clean them, reset them, test them, and carefully box them up,” Bailey explains.

The teams also had to make sure the units were safe, check that they were in top working condition, and figure out the best ways to get them to the receiving organizations — as quickly as possible. None of this would be easy.

Cross-Functional Team Effort

To accomplish these goals required a team effort from several Cisco groups — each working in unison, collaborating at breakneck speed.

These teams include:

  • IT — Provided vital product information, including serial numbers, to know exactly where each unit is located.
  • Workplace Resources — Performed a lot of heavy lifting (both literally and figuratively) in terms of getting the units out of the offices and effectively acquiring boxes and packing materials.
  • Remarketing and Demo Loan Services — Leveraged longtime warehousing partner, Teleplan, to ready the equipment for repackaging by cleaning and refreshing.
  • Customer Partner Services — Created sales orders at $0 for the end recipients. This is important so that the transfer of support contracts from Cisco IT to the customer can be updated if any future support is needed.
  • Legal — Drafted legal documents that are included in each box to explain that the equipment is a “for keeps” donation.
  • Corporate Affairs — Provided a centralized process for managing the donations process.
  • Sales — Worked closely with customers to identify the ones in most critical need of the equipment.

The Result

On March 27, just five days after Chuck’s announcement, the first shipment of 10 Webex DX80 video conferencing displays was delivered to U.S. hospitals.

The next day, we shipped 110 more. Over the next week, another 220 units would make their way to hospitals across the United States, with many being sent to the most impacted areas around New York City.

Finally, the teams involved could see the result of their work. In total, Cisco is working to provide nearly 500 video conferencing units to hospitals and healthcare providers in the U.S.

“It’s been inspiring to see how excited and energized our employees are about this donation effort — you can feel a level of commitment that’s personal,” says Norm DePeau, VP, Customer Service. “This has provided an opportunity to make an impact in the fight against the virus.”

“When asked, our teams mobilized within hours. We saw a need and knew time was of the essence. And our teams just got it done.”

Adds Christian Bigsby, VP, Operations, Workplace Resources: “The technology that we are bringing to these frontline healthcare workers has never been more relevant or impactful. When you can offer the people, who are putting themselves at risk, a piece of technology that can help them fight the battle more safely, it is incredibly powerful and overwhelming.”

The team in Amsterdam ready to ship.
The team in Amsterdam ready to ship.

Being a global company means our commitment doesn’t stop at U.S. borders.

Cisco’s Europe and Asia-based teams use the same approach to donate equipment located in Cisco offices to hospitals in some of the heavily affected areas in Spain, Italy, France, the U.K., Japan, and Australia, to name a few. In total, up to 1,000 units will be given to healthcare providers globally.

“We’ve shown that we understand the logistics of doing all this quickly and efficiently,” Bailey says. “We can now work on replicating the same processes around the world.”

Connect everything. Innovate everywhere. Benefit everyone.

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