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John Chambers Essay in Forbes: “Guts and Glory”

April 27, 2007 - 1 Comment

I would be remiss if I didn’t bring the following essay by our CEO, John Chambers, to your attention. In a Forbes magazine special report on “Networks,” he talks about the future of technology and leads his essay with: “The last 15 years have brought us advances in communications technology far surpassing those made in the previous 5,000–making the next 15 an era that will be limited only by our imagination and our courage to execute.” Full article here. I can only surmise that Forbes entitled it “Guts and Glory” because Cisco makes the Guts of the network which enables the Glory or Telepresence, blogging, video sharing, communities, voice, video, data, mobility, etc. I found it interesting to read his thoughts on where he thinks the future of technology is going and thought you might too.Forbes Networks 2007.bmpOthers who contributed to this Forbes special section include: – Fred Smith of FedExJohn Doerr and Bill Joy of Kleiner PerkinsHoward Dean of the DNCRupert Murdoch of NewsCorpand 20-some other essays on Networks and their impact on medicine, charity, video and more.Really interesting special report and I encourage you to check it out.

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  1. Mr. Chamber's says that he believes we are entering an era that will be limited only by our imagination and our courage to execute.""In contrast, I believe that it will be limited by our inability to see beyond prior constructs. As an example, consider the device known as a Set Top Box (STB) -- and it's companions, the hand-held remote control and Electronic Program Guide (EPG).Scientific Atlanta engineers and designers seem to envision that when a new STB feature category is created, a corresponding set of new buttons must be squeezed onto the remote control. This legacy thinking results in the 30-50 button remotes that are common today.Consider the ""usability"" of the typical STB remote control from the perspective of the mainstream consumer, and you'll see why this construct is now obsolete.When all video content was aggregated into the ""channel"" construct, and the imagination could only conceive of a 100 channel programming universe, then the remote keypad and linear on-screen channel guide made sense.However, when you consider all of the new niche-oriented digital content that is coming to market today, then clearly the prior scenario seems woefully inadequate.My point: you must first free yourself from conventional wisdom, and then you can apply imagination and creativity. This doesn't imply that previous models are not useful, if applied differently.As an example, in a digital media world with an abundance of new content, consumers will only watch ONE channel -- it's the one that is mapped closely to their constantly evolving ""persona"" -- which is based upon their lifestyle and interests.Furthermore, instead of the remote control being designed around the needs of the STB and the service provider, it will be re-oriented to the needs of the individual user (person holding it). Then the execution of personalization attributes can be triggered by pressing the ""my channel"" button, which will in turn trigger the ""my program guide"" software that will present new content suggestions (based upon trends or patterns in my prior viewing habits).And lastly, my human network of friends and family members, combined with insights from their shared content recommendations, will help to guide my digital content discovery process. Now, imagine an STB/Remote/EPG combo that enabled this user experience.Therefore, I maintain that it's when you combine the best that technology offers us -- with the best that we humans can contribute -- that you are able to realize a truly remarkable innovation. Again, it's an incredible opportunity for Cisco to take consumer electronics in a new direction.Mr. Chambers, and company, are you willing to think differently, beyond the prior constructs?"