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VoiceCon: IP communications drives business transformation at Cisco, CEO says

Mar 07, 20063 mins
Cisco SystemsCollaboration SoftwareNetworking

Cisco CEO John Chambers used his keynote at the VoiceCon show in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday to explain the benefits his company sees in its own IP telephony and unified communications network, and urged his business customers to follow his company’s lead — and quick.

Chambers said IP telephony technology will be the key productivity driver for business across all vertical industries over the next 10 years. His message coincided with the vendor’s launch of its SIP-based CallManager IP PBX and presence application platform — which ties end users together with voice, video, instant messaging and presence location capabilities.

“The No. 1 issue [driving convergence] will be about collaboration,” Chambers said. “Collaboration is about unified communications and how to communicate with people in ways that they are most comfortable with.”

Cisco uses its own collaboration and VoIP gear. Chambers said he plans to cut travel expenses for the company next year by as much as 20%. The driver for this will be more online collaboration through IP voice and video applications.

“That’s what I’m gong to do – enforce a rethinking of how we’re going to do communication and tele-presence,” Chambers said. “I’m dramatically more productive when I’m not spending 22 hours on an airplane like I am this week.”

Chambers said that Cisco’s unified infrastructure, along with a realignment of its business processes, were looked upon favorably by the bond rating firms that recently scrutinized Cisco’s $7 billion acquisition of Scientific-Atlanta, which was the first debt-financed buyout by Cisco.

“We borrowed money for the first time the other day,” Chambers said. “It was a unique experience for us… The financial people analyze your ability to pay them back and look at your risk. I told them about how we were changing our organization structure – not physically, but virtually – and the part that unified communications plays in that. It shocked me these were bean counters… but they understood that unified communications was a sustainable differentiator that will enable us to take on competitors.”

Chambers said network professionals will have to anticipate the communication demands of corporate executives before developing a strategy for VoIP, unified communications and video. This requires organizations to look at switching, routing and security infrastructure that can provide a high-quality application experience without leaving an organization open to the new threats that VoIP and convergence could introduce.

“By that time it becomes obvious what to do,” Chambers said. “By the time executives asks for it, it’s too late if [you] haven’t built that infrastructure already to support it.”