Since taking over as CEO, I have spent a lot of my time listening. I’ve met with customers, partners, government leaders, investors, and Cisco’s employees.   Each conversation yielded new insights and fueled my continued optimism about our future. What I have learned has not only helped solidify my thinking, but has enabled our entire leadership team to move quickly to define our differentiated strategy to lead the digital future.

Today, it’s a given that every customer is using technology to enable their business. But some customers view technology as a real differentiator for their business, and the most progressive define their strategy in the context of what technology makes possible.  In doing so, they drive competitive differentiation and, in many cases, define new business models.

On a visit to our Customer Experience Center in San Jose last week, one of our financial services customers told me he defined his organization as an outstanding technology company that secondarily happens to be very good at banking. This customer, like many others, has recognized the role that technology can play in enabling phenomenal customer experiences. In his case, the reach of financial expertise and the ability to securely deliver differentiated services is only limited by the reach of his private network and the Internet. Based on this understanding, he wants Cisco to be his partner in this digital transformation.

The strong belief in technology’s transformative power isn’t just restricted to business leaders. It extends to governments as well.  India’s Prime Minster Narendra Modi is laser-focused on leveraging technology to improve the lives of India’s citizens, and he recognizes his partnership with Cisco as critical in moving his Digital India agenda forward and creating a fully connected society, a knowledge economy, and unlocking the power of India on a global scale.

Our opportunity is clear: Cisco can be the most strategic partner to cities, countries and all of our customers on this digital journey.  Frankly, every organization recognizes the transformative power that technology can provide, but our research shows that only 25 percent of companies and governments say they have a plan to execute on that opportunity. These organizations that have a plan need our help to deliver the ultimate benefits. The remaining 75 percent need our help in clearly defining the opportunity that exists for each one of them.

The critical timeframe to deliver on the transformation cycle is compressing and we all must move faster than ever before. Those who were viewed as disrupters yesterday could be disrupted tomorrow. The organizations that understand and take advantage of the tremendous opportunity will be the winners in the future.

Today, at our Global Editors Conference in San Jose, I shared the framework of our technology strategy for how Cisco aims to partner with organizations driving digital transformations.

With this framework, we’re outlining how our technology portfolio, investments, and strategic partnerships will deliver the business process and model innovation, new user experiences, and operational agility our customers need to lead in a digital world.

chuck's GEC blog

You’ll hear us discuss our execution on this framework going forward, but here is quick summary:

  • We will continue to drive our physical and virtual infrastructure leadership: converging technologies, delivering new architectures, and driving technical innovations in emerging spaces.
  • We will deliver the next generation of intelligent micro-services and orchestration to maximize the efficiency of infrastructure across campus, data center, cloud, WAN and digital “things”, with containers and cluster management, proprietary and open-source technologies
  • We will bring new levels of automation, abstraction, programmability and intelligence to infrastructure, and we will double down on infrastructure analytics to deliver the insights that no-one else can by analyzing relevant data in motion at the edge, as well as within the data center.
  • We will deliver security everywhere. With data being our customers’ most strategic asset, security is our critical differentiator. We’ve said for a long time that a stitched-together framework of dozens of security providers won’t work – yet today, the average customer has more than 50 security vendors. We can provide the integrated security architectures required to address threats across distributed, mobile, and cloud-based enterprises.
  • We will continue to expand our cloud capabilities around hybrid cloud solutions and software defined infrastructure services built on DevOps and continuous delivery best practices. And we will partner strategically to deliver business relevant insights from data gathered at smart endpoints through critical applications.
  • Just as Cisco built the fabric of the first Internet, you can expect us to lead in connecting as many as a trillion physical and virtual ‘things’ (sensors, actuators and their networks) in this next phase of the Internet. We will enable intelligent and secure IoT data platforms with machine learning, and create an unprecedented ecosystem for next generation IoT apps and solutions.
  • In addition, building on our strength in collaboration, we’ll deliver unbeatable scale and differentiation by partnering with the best, as we recently did with Apple to reimagine the future of work in the enterprise.
  • We are also deepening our commitment to developer communities. The hundreds of thousands of developers who have joined Cisco DevNet in the last year already see the incredible value in building innovative, network-enabled solutions. They recognize only Cisco can give them access to the data and analytics they need.
  • Finally, we will continue to find and shape innovation, wherever it is, by engaging with start-ups, partners and customers to experiment, co-develop and lead new market transitions. Through Cisco Investments, we have direct investments in 100 start-ups and access to hundreds more through our network of venture partnerships. Through our Innovation Centers, we have developed dozens of new solutions with input from over 2,500 customer, and 1,000 start-up engagements. In pursuing our strategy, we will accelerate these activities—and more—to drive innovation everywhere.

When I took this role, I outlined my goal to articulate a technology strategy to drive our business strategy and opportunity going forward. We’ve moved quickly, yet deliberately, as we defined the strategic framework that will make Cisco the most strategic digital partner for all of our customers around the world.  I told our teams this past week that I have never been more optimistic about our opportunity. I truly believe that the next decade will be even better than the last two for Cisco.


Chuck Robbins

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Cisco Systems, Inc.