The four-man team from the network equipment specialist's Glasgow office swapped the lead several times with university teams, which have dominated the final in recent years.
The 14 finalists solved problems against the clock using Java or C/C++. Five of the finalists were teams from IT suppliers this year.
BCS deputy president John Ivinson, who presented the prizes, highlighted the serious side of the competition. "Teamwork, skill and determination to succeed are qualities which are valued highly in the world of systems and applications programming," he said. "The BCS Programming Competition offers a realistic platform for professionals, students and academics to compete on equal terms and demonstrate their skills in a public arena."
Cisco team member Gordon Rattray said, "We approached the problems as if they were real-life questions. We ensured we really understood the requirements, thought carefully about the solution before implementing it, and devised as many test cases as possible. Each of these factors gave us a very high first-time success rate for the questions, and that undoubtedly helped us win."
Programming Competition Committee chairman Graham Brookes added, "The basic strength of the competition is that teams seek to solve as many programming problems as possible in the time, using only one computer. This elicits not just programming skills but also human and resource management skills."
Competition chief judge Giles Chapman noted the growing strength of Java users in the competition. "Java was used for the second time this year, and, while teams using C and C++ still dominated the final, the Java teams gave a very strong showing," he said. "I suspect it won't be long before we have a winning team programming in Java."
The competition, which was sponsored by IT services company EDS, is supported by E-Competitions, the UK focus initiative for IT competitions and award schemes that support education and training at all levels, from primary school to the workplace. The organisation is led by the E-Skills National Training Organisation and the Department for Education and Skills and is backed by major IT companies and government agencies.
Microsoft, an E-Competitions sponsor, donated prizes to the winning team. The team members also each got a BCS shield and certificate.
Cisco Systems played out the final against IBM's Hursley Laboratory; McAfee; Socket Systems; a team combining staff from Zuken, Codemasters and Eurologic; London University's Imperial College; the Universities of East Anglia, Glasgow, Sheffield, Southampton, Sussex, Swansea and York; and St Helens College.