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Partnerships, not technology, key to success

21 Jan 15

In order to still exist in 10 years, companies need to partner up and embrace change, says John Chambers, Cisco Systems CEO.

“In the high-tech industry, our competitors from 15-20 years ago, none of them exist. And from 10-15 years ago, great companies, Alcatel, Lucent, Nortel, Ericsson, are a shadow of where they were before. And the same thing will happen to Cisco if we don’t constantly change and innovate," said Chambers at the 2015 CES International.

Chambers says he's started meeting with venture capitalists and startup companies every month to talk about new trends and techniques used, and is working to bring Cisco into the future by thinking in advance.

At CES International Chambers talked about how various trends, such as the Internet of Everything, is rapidly changing the IT industry. He says the Internet of Everything is accelerating the digitisation of entertainment, companies, government and cities.

“The speed of change is one of the key messages of today’s world,” says Chambers. “Even the most powerful company in the world knows they have to move dramatically or risk getting left behind.”

He says having the latest technology isn’t the only important part of staying ahead of the game. Instead it’s about companies becoming more wiling to be agile, more willing to partner and work together, and to build systems and process that respond to the changes that are taking place, he says.

On the importance of having key partnerships, Chambers says, “To move somewhere as a company is hard enough, but to achieve something good with another compay requires even more commitments. But with the speed in the market today, you have to rely on other partners to get anywhere.”

In order to capitalise on the changing IT landscape, Chambers says business and Cisco partners are focusing on the digitisation of sensors, monitors, data collection for energy, healthcare, entertainment habits, education and more.

He says companies used to make strategic devicisions five to seven years out but now long-term planning is three years, and Cisco is working with businesses and partners to shift to this new way of thinking.

“Cisco has changed more in the past year, as we position ourselves for the future, than we have any five years before this,” he says. “Over the past six months, we have reorganised the entire company - almost 70% of our engineers are now doing something different for us.”

Chambers says Cisco now focuses on selling outcomes as opposed to selling boxes. He says as a company you need to disrupt your industry, disrupt yourself, or become a victim of change.

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