John Chambers, CEO of Cisco was talking about the next phase of the internet – collaboration. The market is in transition – social networking has changed personal communities and these technologies will also transform the future of work. Cisco’s approach is to focus on transitions – not competitors, but market transitions. In ’97 they focused on all in one IP-based networks. In 2000 it was networks of networks – any device on any network. In 2006 it was the idea of the network as a platform given the prevalence of computing power. The next wave he says is:
- Intelligent network-centric
- Everything as a service
- Innovation from emerging countries
- Community replacing personalization
- Content finds you
- Visual networking (though I think this is driven by his business wanting to sell video conferencing)
He believes that collaboration will drive productivity at the same kind of rates we saw in the 10 years between 1996 and 2006. He likes to use Cisco as an example – Telepresence to reduce travel while increasing customer contacts, using video to make a more engaging marketing presence online, using collaboration tools to allow a worldwide perspective on legal teams, wikis to bring ideas from all around the company to market etc. The use of blogs, video, shared bookmarks, wiki, social media all come together as employees collaborate. In Cisco’s mind, all of this revolves around video and telepresence because that it is key to getting engagement. Unified communication is not about just sharing hardware, it’s about using lots of different communication vehicles as part of an integrated collaboration environment.
John feels that change must start at the top, especially in the IT department. The CIO must align their objectives to those of the CEO and the company. It cannot be just about reducing cost. Instead, IT must help the company change its mindset by providing the infrastructure to support the collaboration. A much larger group is now engaged and collaborating in a number of different areas. John feels that this new approach let’s them tackle very many new projects even though no-one is dealing with very many. He spent some time re-iterating the role of innovation in driving new markets, new business models and the importance of collaborative technology, process and culture in this.
Now, does he back video so hard because it means lots more Cisco equipment is needed or will it really become central?