Can Cisco Be Cool Again?
For anyone following the networking sectoressentially a bunch of companies making commodity boxes and mergers of also-ran plodding giants such as Lucent and Alcatela little excitement would be welcome. The big question is whether Cisco can be cool again. Can Cisco, which for a fleeting moment during the dot-com boom was the most valuable company in the world, regain the mantle as a tech darling?
Indeed, Cisco is trying to thread the needle between being viewed as an innovator and a safe bet for customers. It also wants to be seen as more than a networking company. But if Ciscos vision is remotely right, the company could be on to something. Beyond headlines about new routers, marketing-speak and a new logo to be viewed as a consumer brand, and partnerships with the likes of SAP and Microsoft, Cisco is plotting the future.
"We have to have the ability to capture market transitions before they become obvious," says Chambers. "Once they are obvious, its too late."
Among the developments to ponder:
Its biggest bet: Video will become important enough to enterprises that CIOs will invest heavily in networks to offer employees "tele-presence." According to Chambers, employees will be able to say, "Beam me up, Scotty, and put me in a video meeting in London and then Atlanta." Think YouTube for the enterprise.
Of course, the subtext is clear here: Cisco will have to transcend networking if its going to continue to grow. Its clear Cisco wants to build the network thats going to follow you around no matter what you do or where you go. If it accomplishes that goal, it could regain the cool factoror at least make a lot of money trying.
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