Cisco’s John Chambers has been a leading IT thought provoker for a long time. It’s always worth listening to voices of successful experience and reason when it comes to looking forward in business and technology. So we note below a few of Mr. Chambers’ comments about what to expect in the not too distant future, culled from a recent interview by Scott Thrum, the Wall Street Journal’s senior deputy technology editor.
In the interview, Chambers notes two trends in particular to keep your eye on:
First, Chambers notes upon his return from the annual Davos Conference (World Economic Forum) “I guarantee you that the No. 1 thing on every CEO’s mind [there] is how to make your company a digital company.” And number two, he notes, is the Internet of Everything, that interconnected world of gadgets and Net of which this blog has written several times before.
Said Chambers of his peers at Davos (admittedly, these are business luminaries from many of the very largest of firms) they all seemed to concur: “I’m not moving fast enough. I have to become a digital company first, a physical company second.” If true, that’s a paradigm shift of the highest order for most companies today. It means fast innovation which means fast IT, and then it becomes about security.
For CIOs, Chambers notes, this means that “IT will be in vogue again. It will be centered all around these new concepts, and the role of the CIO can change dramatically.” Chambers believes that “a lot of companies won’t exist in a meaningful way in ten years unless they change dramatically.” Speaking of digitization and the IOT (Internet of Things), Chambers believes getting the market transitions right is the first order of business.
Secondly, he says, it’s important not to stay doing the same thing too long. Chambers claims it’s important to move into what he calls “market adjacencies” and then bring back what you’ve learned to your core capability. He notes GE as an example of a company that’s done this well.
Thirdly, he says, and this is a tough one, you must reinvent yourself as a CIO or a CEO for your company. That’s one where everyone struggles. And then of course, all this is exacerbated simply by the rapid pace of change. (Chambers claims that Cisco has changed more in the last 12 months that at any time in its history.)
Finally, he sees the role of the network changing dramatically. “Contrary to a lot of people’s views on big data, I think the majority of the data will actually be analyzed and acted upon at the edge of the network. And if you write your applications right, they can run in the cloud, they can run in your data center, they can run in the WAN (wide area network), they can run right all the way to the edge. It will transform business at a tremendous pace,” he opines.