2 min read

Cisco CEO wants to be fast and all-digital

Chuck Robbins, CEO of Cisco Systems

SAN JOSE, CALIF. – Five months have passed since Cisco Systems announced that Chuck Robbins would be its new CEO ending the 20-year reign of John Chambers.

In that short amount of time Robbins has introduced a strategy based on speed.

He told a group of International editors at the Cisco Global Editors Conference that if Cisco executives indicate they need 18 months to complete a project he demands it to be done in nine months. “I don’t know if nine months is the right amount of time; it certainly feels good to say that, but the objective is that we need to be a much faster company. We are going to be simpler, clearer and work a lot faster because we have to get the customers the benefits of the technology faster,” Robbins said.

Another major area of focus for Robbins is the digital economy and working towards Cisco becoming a leader in the new digital era.

One of Robbins first moves as CEO was to hire the networking giant’s first ever Chief Digital Officer in Kevin Bandy.

Part of Robbins vision is to get Cisco on the same path of customer’s digital journey. “Basically we need to take our own advice and be the No. 1 example of a digital B2B company. This is our commitment,” he said.

And there is evidence that the digital economy is here today with more than 500 billion connected things. IP mobile traffic is approximately 40 per cent on machine-to-machine.

“When you connect 500 billion things its going to be massively distributed and therefore it needs a smart networking infrastructure for it,” he said.

Supporting that vision is a recently announced partnership with GE to help them digitize 100 factories with the aim being reducing the downtime in manufacturing and improving overall quality of the products.

At the Global Editors Conference Cisco announced another customer partnership with robotics manufacturer Fanuc America. Jointly the two along with channel partners plan to digitize the manufacturing floor. Fanuc robots have been able to capture data but Fanuc customers had no way to analyse it for preventative maintenance or improved performance. So when the robots go down the cost to repair them are an astronomical $16,000 per minute.

Robbins is working on instilling an approach that is based on delivering outcomes and continuous innovation, while being on the same page with customers.

“Very seldom are we asked technology questions but they are asking very specific business questions such as how do I run my business in the digital age,” he said.

Cisco’s value proposition is being reimagined under Robbins. Another area of focus is on industry specific utilization and relevance.

What will these new directions mean to the channel?

Robbins said that the digital transition is no different that any other market transition Cisco has been a part of.

“Every transition we have done with partners there have been partners who were ahead of us and some who moved with us at the same pace. Some were lagging behind and some never made the transition. Several partners have a robust (digital) business around difficult industries like mining and doing a wonderful job even teaching us. Digital can be a very competitive differentiator and we are committed to this jointly with partners,” Robbins said.

Bandy added that the market should expect to see partners rise up because of the digital era as well as some new partners coming in. “This is the new reality,” he said.