Cisco CEO Chambers: Why the Flip video camera matters to CIOs

Cisco chief says consumer technologies already being embraced by the enterprise

Cisco CEO John Chambers on how consumer-oriented technology like the Flip video camera is getting the attention of enterprise CIOs.

In this installment of IDG Enterprise's "CEO Interview Series," Cisco CEO John Chambers talks with IDGE Chief Content Officer John Gallant, Computerworld Editor-in-Chief Scot Finnie and InfoWorld.com Editor-in-Chief Eric Knorr about why Cisco has invested so heavily in consumer-oriented technology and why it matters to CIOs.

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Some IT executives may look at the things Cisco does in the consumer market and ask why? How does that benefit the enterprise buyer? Case in point, how does the acquisition of the company that makes the Flip video camera benefit me as an enterprise buyer?

Our ability to get market transitions right is pretty good. CIOs will probably give us very high credibility for that. If you look at the charts we did in '97, 2001, 2006 and 2009, almost everything we said that looked pretty visionary [at the time] actually worked.

So, from the CIO perspective, three thoughts. The first generation of the Internet was driven by business to the consumer, in terms of Internet productivity. Business got it first, with ordering online, doing customer support. The next generation of productivity is the consumer [technology] driving into business. We predicted this in 2000. It was on the charts. That's how it's occurring - what our kids did in social networking, Web 2.0, YouTube, Facebook, etc.

We are absolutely taking [that] straight into our own enterprise and architecting them together underneath a common collaboration architecture. We think that will drive productivity at well-run companies 5% to 10% a year for a decade. Now, you'd say, that's a nice general statement. But, when we've made those [statements] in the past, we've been right. The new creative ideas, as we thought, are coming from the consumer up. We just add discipline to it, organization structure, business models to it.

This is occurring much quicker than [anyone] thought. You ask the top leadership at Procter & Gamble what they use Flip for. They use it to submit ideas to the CEO. You ask what I use Flip for? My team pushed me, saying 'John, you've got to think about blogging.' I said no way. I can talk 200 words a minute. Why would I ever want to blog? Today, I will do probably four Flips to the whole company or to a specific audience.

We've led the video architecture in the home with our set top box architecture and we'll tie it to the Flip. We'll tie telepresence in the home off of the same high-definition TV.

All of a sudden what looks so remote to the consumer actually will change productivity models in the enterprise, will change virtualization models in the enterprise. You're going to use the same devices at work that you use at home. In fact, you'll be working a large percentage of your time based upon your own personal preference at whatever physical location you are. So, you combine those. And the CIO says, 'I get it.' Even though they might not have agreed with me three or four years ago.

They also agree you've got to support any device over any combination of networks, and if you're not the leader already in service provider, the leader already in enterprise, the leader already in the commercial marketplace and the leader already in the consumer, that's difficult to do. We are in all four categories. So, this vision of the four coming together, not being separate, looks pretty accurate. 

What do you see as the timeframe on the adoption of such consumer technologies in the enterprise?

It's in your leading accounts already, big time. Look at G.E. Look at what Jeff Immelt, the CEO is doing with Gary Reiner, world-class CIO. He's taking these concepts of collaboration, virtualization, and instead of bringing employees to where the work is, he's bringing the work to where the employees are. Completely transformed productivity, business models, taking advantage of your resources. I'm doing the exact same thing with my services. I can bring them from India, the U.S., in Europe, to wherever the opportunity is. A huge productivity gain, never mind the transportation costs or the hiring costs and bringing people up to speed. 

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