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Internet Phase II: Collaboration


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
  • Partnerships
  • 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?


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Dave Dixon May 20, 2008, 5:01 pm

    Hi James. Sounds like a good conference. Your comment about alignment between the CIO and CEO/corporate struck me. One of our recent case studies had exactly this issue, where the objective used in an analysis of server upgrade strategies was clearly IT-oriented (basically get the most gear for the least money). A full shareholder analysis gave a somewhat different answer, amongst other things accounting for effects on revenue rather than focusing strictly on price/performance. The difference in shareholder value was about $510M, so the issue of properly aligning IT’s goals is not insignificant.

  • Dave Wright May 22, 2008, 4:38 pm

    “CIO must align their objectives to those of the CEO and the company.” Well, duh. That sentence has been around for decades, just put the era-appropriate job titles in.

    Every other part of a company  has always been    expected to align with the company’s objectives: marketing, sales, production, whatever. How did IT ever get into this position that everyone views as mis-aligned? And given that, how has any CIO worth the title not fixed this if it was a problem?

    I know the topic was collaboration, all well and good. No one is an island, and we have had  cross-functional, multi-location teams for ages now. Did Chambers really get to how all his technology made or saved money? Saving travel costs is a no-brainer, what else has he got?

    (If my various comments this week make me seem a little testy, it may be just that despite all the bells and whistles, I am still waiting for something really new, somthing even beyond “transformational”…ah well, must be patient.)

    • James Taylor May 23, 2008, 8:09 am

      The other thing, besides costs savings, that Chambers emphasized was that the new approach allowed many more projects to be handled by the company – more “big things”. Instead of only focusing on 2-3 they are able to take on dozens thanks to the more collaborative, more integrated groups.