At a CiscoLive Europe keynote, a Cisco VP described a Maslow-like hierarchy of needs for network innovation and digital transformation. It serves as a prescriptive approach to shifting to a higher-level of digital enterprise.

Like with human behaviors starting at the most fundamental physiological needs like food, water and air up the scale through safety, love, and esteem to enable the pinnacle of self-actualization, Cisco’s hierarchy starts with layer 1’s basics of network security up to layer 6’s “DevOps for Your Brain.” This is where members of the organization are self-actualized by technology, allowing them to be more creative, collaborative and valuable. It’s not clear if Cisco’s hierarchy has been tested with dinner bells and drooling dogs, but it seems like a safe assumption.

Six Layers to Enable Network Innovation

Starting at the base of the pyramid, Layer 1 is Digital Defense. Without the right security in place to protect the company and customers, network innovation is useless. And it’s not just the network — this secure foundation must extend from the edge to data centers, cloud, IoT endpoints… Any vector that could incur a breach.

Layer 2 is close to our hearts at Uplogix: Automation. The idea of letting the machines run the machines to free up human time for higher-value activities is critical for network innovation enlightenment. For too long, the sense of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” has chained admins to inefficient way of managing their network. Today, tools like the Uplogix out-of-band platform and increasingly software defined networks move the burden of routine network management off of the human.

Layer 3, Cloud, rounds out the base of the pyramid as the foundation of digital transformation. Your organization needs to find the right cloud mix for your operation. With your Cloud strategy in place, you continue the climb up the pyramid.

Layer 4 is Data Insights. Now that your network is humming safely along with everything floating happily in the cloud, it’s time to achieve some awareness. “See” the data, analyze it, understand it and make it a competitive advantage. Cisco wants to help your organization monitor and track customer, employee and application transactions to better serve them with proactive IT infrastructure changes.

Layer 5 is a product plug for Cisco’s Spark product. Collaboration is the point. Whether you are using Spark or Slack, in the digital era, making good decisions with the right people quickly is what it’s all about.

Finally, Layer 6 is about disrupting the status quo, thinking differently using a DevOps for your Brain approach to constant innovation. When the technology is no longer an impediment to creativity or action your organization has reached the pinnacle of the hierarchy. All employees and customers are finding solutions faster and with less effort.