Cisco Live Keynote – John Chambers

End of an Era and the Rise of the Digital Age
Reflections on John Chambers' final keynote address as the CEO of Cisco during their 2015 conference.

For many of us who have made IT the center of our professional careers, CiscoLive is one of the biggest annual industry events you can attend in our industry. Cisco’s main event consistently delivers huge crowds, quality attendees, top vendors, and compelling informational sessions.

Having attended many CiscoLive keynotes myself, there is another constant you can always count on: a dynamic keynote presentation from their stalwart CEO and Chairman, John Chambers. But, this year is different.

This was to be John Chambers’ final keynote as CEO before handing the reigns to Cisco veteran Chuck Robbins. After a colorful and loud opening by the up and coming pop sensation OK GO, Mr. Chambers took the front stage one more time to share his insight into recent IT trends and to shed light on Cisco’s future strategy.

The keynote presentation had a core theme around FastIT and the Rise of the Digital Age. As with past keynotes, Mr. Chambers reflected on a changing market with many disruptions and transitions. blog-201506-2015-06-09-ciscolive-day1blog
With the pace of change increasing every quarter, successful companies (and countries) will be required to quickly adapt to become more digital or face being disrupted by faster more agile competitors. Given Cisco’s broad portfolio and experience, the keynote focused on their Digital strategy differentiators: architectures and intelligent networks, compute-network-storage, ACI (SDN, SLN, NFV), security, IoT/IoE, cloud/Intercloud, unique processes and finally, a shift in focus towards outcomes.

As with most of his CLUS keynote presentations, John credited Cisco’s market share success on being able to adapt quicker than their competitors by investing in market transitions along with changing their culture and focusing on “Exponential Thinking.” Yet this year’s presentation had a different tone and a sense of urgency. He emphasized that we are at an inflection point regardless of your industry. If you don’t reinvent yourself in today’s economy, you will not exist in 10 years.

Cisco believes that their focus on architecture is the basis for enabling the IT transition to a digital business. They also believe that focusing on acceleration, simplicity, operational rigor and culture will keep them in their leadership position. Given their massive product portfolio and partner ecosystem, you can’t count Cisco out from staying at the top of their industry.

By managing the transition from the information age to the digital age will define the winning companies and countries in the years to come. John Chambers has a proven track record of success over the last 20 years so we should pause and take heed on his parting comments: disrupt or be-disrupted.

Did you attend the welcome Keynote on Monday, June 8? Tell us what you thought of it in the comments below!  

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