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Cisco wants to be the foundation for digital transformation

At Cisco Live in Las Vegas, CEO Chuck Robbins sets out his vision for the future and moves to position the supplier at the heart of enterprise digitisation

Cisco kicked off its annual user conference by positioning itself as the foundation for digital transformation. At Cisco Live in Las Vegas, CEO Chuck Robbins outlined four pillars that will underpin digital transformation projects: analytics, security, collaboration and automation.

At the show’s opening keynote, Robbins said technology has shifted from the basement to the boardroom, and now plays a vital role in business strategy.

“A massive transition has occurred. Technology is fundamentally the strategy of every organisation. These technologies will fundamentally change everything about how we live, solve problems and achieve objectives. And we’re in the middle of that,” he said.

He also spelled out what companies need to do to start their digital transformation: “I believe that if you are going to really have an effect on the capability of what the technology can do, it has to start from the top. Whether it’s CEOs, prime ministers or city mayors, you have to have sponsorship. You have to have someone who can see what you see.

“We’ve talked over the past few years about IT budgets moving to the lines of business [LOB]. And while the LOBs are spending more money on technologies, for us to really be successful in the future, IT and the LOBs have to come together and be aligned.”

Digital-ready network

There has to be a strategy, Robbins added, with security and innovation the two most important aspects of a digital transformation.

“If you have that executive support, and a strategy laid out, and if you understand the security requirements and the need to move fast, and if you understand the business connection with the technology, then the first thing you do is build a foundation to deliver those services,” he said.

Read more about enterprise transformation

“If you don’t, then you won’t be ready to move when the business is,” Robbins warned. “The last thing you want to be is the IT group that isn’t keeping up with the needs of the business. There is a fundamental need to build a digital-ready network.”

At the heart of all this is a network that can provide analytics, automate the infrastructure based on what it needs, with security built in from the start. The final pillar of a digital-ready network is collaboration, said Robbins.

“If we’re going to get billions of things connected, perhaps we should first make sure our people are connected, to enable them to communicate more effectively. I think that’s fundamental. I believe collaboration will be at the heart of so much of what we do with smart cities and delivery of services,” he said.

Cisco’s view on Brexit

Robbins also outlined Cisco’s response to the UK’s potential exit from the European Union.

“We remain incredibly committed and optimistic about the UK, and our commitment is unwavering,” he said. “We don’t have a business that is highly dependent on work going on in the UK being leveraged in the European Union, unlike some industries such as auto manufacturing where they are servicing Europe out of the UK.

“The implications on Cisco directly are more likely to be connected to whatever macro-economic issues are created. We’ve been very active in the UK and don’t expect that to change.”   ....................

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