Hilton Romanski Embracing Disruption, Redefining Cisco’s Approach
Last week, I had the pleasure of addressing the most powerful and talented sales team in the IT industry at Cisco’s annual sales meeting, GSX. What I shared was straightforward — our customers are dealing with levels of disruption that they’ve never experienced before, and not just to their businesses, but to their entire industries. This disruption is largely driven by technology. Whether its artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, robotics—you name it—it’s all hitting our customers at once. In the midst of this unprecedented level of change, they are struggling with how to navigate through it. As we work through our own set of changes and show early successes underpinned by our strategy, customers are engaging us to help them along in the journey to the future that they imagine for themselves.
Our innovation strategy is multi-faceted and gives us unique tools with which to engage disruption. We build the best stuff – executed by our 26,000-strong team of incredibly talented engineers – and we deliver that better than anyone else. We buy and integrate amazing companies, helping us grow and enter new markets, implement new business models and attract top talent. Acquisitions such as Meraki, OpenDNS, AppDynamics and recently announced Duo, open the distance between us and our competitors, while bringing us closer to our customers in order to help them solve their most important business problems. We partner in unique and differentiated ways with world class technology leaders, such as Apple and Google Cloud. We co-develop with customers, partners and startups through our 10 Innovation Centers around the world. And, as has been the case for the last 25 years, we invest directly in the startup ecosystem through corporate investments.
On this last point, thousands of new companies are funded annually. In the US last year, $84 billion of venture capital was invested into new companies. Though this is a staggering sum, it pales in comparison to the $182 billion invested globally. That’s larger than the GDP of most countries on the planet! Cisco itself is prolific corporate investor, with over 120 companies in our portfolio, 45 VC funds across 27 countries, and total annual investments averaging $250 million . We focus on investing in companies aligned to our core domains, including Cohesity who is disrupting the $60 billion secondary storage market, as well as those that will change the future, such as Kespry, a complete drone-based solution for surveying outdoor environments (e.g. mines, oil and gas fields, and construction sites) safely and accurately—and at a lower cost—while pushing vast amounts of data to the edge of the network. Our investment activity gives us insight, visibility, access and knowledge that is truly unique in the industry.
Our approach positions Cisco in a way that no one else can touch. We engage disruption in order to capture it. By capturing that disruption, we are better positioned than ever, to help lead our customers on the journey to the future that they imagine for themselves.