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New Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins heads into "hyper-connected" mode

John Gallant | July 27, 2015
Robbins takes over at Cisco for John Chambers this Monday, promoting a hyper-connected architecture in the face of competition from white box makers and SDN proponents.

Those areas I think are clear cut. The teams are actually doing the right things so this isn't me saying they're moving too slow. These are just areas that we have to continue to accelerate. As I think about our customer segments, we've got reasonably good architectural alignment with most of our service providers, as an example, and we're moving faster now on delivering virtualized managed services. It's a general response when we see market transitions occurring. You're going to see us assess those transitions, embrace those transitions and then accelerate them for our customers.

You also talked about simplification. What is the simplification that is required? How will the process of getting things done at Cisco change under you?

We need to think about it across everything we do. How we articulate our value proposition externally to our customers, how we talk about the value of the technology to the business. I think that as long as we are trying to move with speed, then the simpler the messaging, the greater our ability to move. It's a general desire to take complexity out because as we think about moving faster, complexity is our enemy. It's that simple.

Who do you view as the key competitors for Cisco? Your largest market share competitor in traditional networking is still pretty small. But who do you worry about?

I love a competitor that tries to build a better product because we do really well against those. John has talked over the last four or five years about this emerging threat from white-box. That's still a competitive threat but if you think about the objectives of the IT organization towards driving more business value inside the organization, they need technology that works together architecturally faster. The whole notion of disaggregating software and hardware just for the sake of 10-15% [savings] on the upfront CAPEX cost, honestly, most customers don't see the value in that. They're trying to move quickly to get technology in so that they can begin to achieve the business benefit from it. It's not about saving 10% on that old systems integration work that we used to do. That's one area that I think we're well positioned on.

As we look ahead, I think that the biggest competition will come from market transitions and, increasingly, many of the market transitions are business-model oriented. Our biggest risk is not paying attention to those and, where they make sense for our customers, embracing them quickly and moving forward with them.

When you think about the goal of helping customers with digital transformation, are you competing conceptually and from a breadth-of-solution perspective with IBM, EMC, HP Enterprise? Who is it? There's got to be somebody you point the team to and say "go kill these guys."


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