4 June 2013, Boston, MA—“Today, tomorrow, together” was the theme of an inspiring message from Cisco’s CEO John Chambers delivered during the opening presentation this morning at the Cisco Partner Summit 2013 in Boston, Mass. According to Chambers, Cisco, today the dominant player in the networking industry, is positioning itself to become the world’s #1 IT company. An audacious goal, but one that the company may well achieve.
Here’s why I think they have a shot at it. Their message of steadiness and partnering comes through clearly. Chambers’ command of the industry dynamics, including the gut-wrenching changes that are swirling through the marketplace, is masterful—he knows how volatile things are, yet can still articulate a direction and boldly take his company where no one else dares to go. He speaks about the primacy of the customer–with the insight of someone who does spend time with customers—not just in discussion around pleasantries but in the hard conversations about the changes customers are managing and how well (or poorly) their technology vendors are supporting them.
This morning, Chambers gave us his view of the future, especially the breadth of the opportunity, with great dexterity. In his view, the current change is greater and it’s happening faster than in any previous industry transition. Chambers is looking on this disruption with enthusiasm and his experience gives credibility to his ambitions and expectations. He has led Cisco through many transitions, such as the commitment to IP protocol, entering the service provider business and becoming a pioneering leader in IP telephony. He also thinks the current transition is a golden opportunity for the partner network.
Under the current leadership, Cisco is an organization with a clear vision, strategy and goals backed up with a strong value message. If the customer is primary, then the solution providers who work directly with the customers to explain and deliver the new technologies as business solutions should also rank very high in the world of technology. Sure enough, Cisco has been consistent in their commitment to their channel business model. They continue to provide fresh, focused messages around vision and execution and at the same time challenge everyone in the tech industry to stop fixating on technology and focus on business outcomes.
Presenters this morning included Bruce Klein, Senior VP, Worldwide Partner Organization and Edison Peres, Senior VP, Worldwide Channels. Klein is new to the role having been in it less than a year. He focused his remarks on the larger ecosystem that we participate in. Peres’ vision is of a renewed channel with a continuing and even more central role in delivering business solutions. The channel will only play this role if they can adapt to the new requirements customers are placing on them. Peres called the role ‘Hybrid IT’ an apt name for a partner offering that incorporates many of the characteristics that distinguish the more successful solution providers today–shifting the mix to more professional services, incorporating different customer consumption models, managed services and cloud.
This is an ambitious goal and one for which channel partners will be richly awarded if they can deliver.