Enterprise 2.0

Interop '07: Cisco's John Chambers sees Web 2.0 driving major productivity gains


Interop is primarily about IT infrastructure. That usually means hardware: routers, access points, storage arrays, security appliances, IP phones, mobile phones, and all the other gear that it takes to connect an organization and its people. Since Cisco has reigned as the king of IT infrastructure for over a decade, it makes sense that Cisco CEO John Chambers is a regular keynote speaker at Interop. In fact, he's usually the keynote speaker.

This year, however, Chambers threw the audience a curve ball in the opening keynote as he talked only fleetingly about infrastructure, hardware, or networking. Instead, he drilled into his audacious vision of how Web 2.0 will revolutionize business and drive the next great wave of productivity gains.

"Web 2.0 to me is very simple," said Chambers. "It's just the tools to provide collaboration."

John Chambers at Interop 2007

Cisco's example

Chambers explained how Web 2.0 mashups and collaboration tools have allowed Cisco to move much faster than ever before. He gave the example of two similar Cisco acquisitions.

In November 2005, Cisco's acquisition of Scientific Atlanta took 45 days to close (a relatively quick transaction at the time). In February 2007, Cisco's acquisition of WebEx took just eight days to close. Chambers credits the increased speed to collaboration tools that have changed and flattened business processes and made them more efficient than ever.

Learning from consumers

While Chambers touted the fact that Cisco is embracing these tools internally and building the infrastructure for the rest of the business world to do the same, he admitted that many of these tools have their origin in the Internet-based social networking applications that have gained immense popularity among consumers, especially children and teens. Some of them are now bringing those experiences and expectations into the workplace.

"What kids started with social networking will move into business," Chambers said.

The implications for IT are obvious. "It's been a way that people kind of communicated in spite of the IT department," he said. "Now the IT department has to lead."

Productivity gains

Chambers asserted that the next great wave of productivity gains will come from unleashing the forces of collaboration with tools such as unified communications, social networking, Web services, telepresence, video conferencing, and seamlessly moving between communications systems.

He predicted that these tools could drive 3%-5% productivity gains over the next five years, which would bring back the gains from the late 1990's when the rise of the Internet drove strong gains. This new wave would also reverse the stagnant productivity numbers of the past several years.

Web 2.0 productivity

Naturally, Chambers believes that Cisco is best situated to help companies achieve these gains because of the broad fleet of platforms and partners that it has built and integrated. "You have to approach it architecturally, not with individual products," he said.

Other sources Your take

Can Web 2.0 collaboration tools re-ignite the productivity gains of the late 1990's? Join the discussion.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

11 comments
EddyConway
EddyConway

Why does Tech Republic urge us to read propaganda from this from shills such as Jason Hiner? I once worked for John Chambers. Company acquisitions by Cisco have been far from smooth, contrary to the writing of Jason Hiner. Nothing was offered by Cisco at InterOp but Microsoft-style posturing, marketing, and propaganda. Tech Republic is wasting the time of its readers by using shills such as Jason Hiner to present Cisco propaganda.

Tig2
Tig2

Jason is here to keep us thinking past the bull crap and focused on reality. Jason put the question forward to try to keep people thinking... and responding based on what they think. Jason is no shill. Cisco may be. I just think that they (Cisco) are cr@p. But that is just me. Jason makes me think. Your mileage may vary. Jason urged you to become informed- stay informed. I think that is a good thing.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

you summed up exactly what I aim for with these types of reports - keep IT pros informed about what's being talked about by the big guns in the industry and ask them to think critically about how it potentially affects them. Thanks Tigger :-)

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

While news sites simply regurgitate the Chambers keynote ... on TechRepublic we ask the question of whether his ideas make sense or if it's just hot air. Chambers didn't just talk theory. He gave examples of how Cisco implementing some of this internally and prsented the results. And when did I ever say Cisco acquisitions have been "smooth"? Although Cisco is better at it than most companies, acquisitions are always messy and complicated. I've never portrayed it as smooth, although it's undeniable that Cisco has a large portfolio of assets to leverage in building a next generation network platform. So when did you work with Chambers? What was your experience? I'd be interested to hear about it.

apotheon
apotheon

I think EddyConway mistook the messenger (you) for the message.

gwcrouch
gwcrouch

Analysts have shown IT to have driven a 14% gain in overall productivity, the best since the start of the industrial revolution. Web 2.0 is a communications enabler. This is what people want to do. Business does need to break out of the secured infrastructure first, and be confident in securing their data, this will enable Web 2.0 to succeed.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

At Interop 2007 yesterday, John Chambers made some pretty bold predictions about Web 2.0 and collaboration tools leading to big productivity gains over the next five years: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/hiner/?p=482 How do you think these tools will affect your organization? Are your users using any of the tools already?

hillman.d
hillman.d

I think Cisco's John Chambers is partially right. The collaboration problem has to be approached from a system-wide view. However, I don't know if entrusting all the power to an infrastructure company will do the trick. We have to give power back to the users to use data as they see fit, instead of having them jump over hoops to make things work. The reason why Google Maps, MySpace, etc work is because users are given the power to grab information from multiple sources, format and display it the way they want to. I work for a local city government and we are already using things like Google Map mashups to get Geographical Information Systems (GIS) project data out to the public through their Blackberrys, etc. Our contractors also love it because they can leverage all the other tools, like Excel, Access, etc. to give us information without doing a whole lot of typing and conversion work. We simply give them Excel templates and they give us the data in XML. We also use Adobe Connect to collaborate and share data seamlessly using Flash, Powerpoint, etc. The tools are already there and they are already helping.

apotheon
apotheon

He might be right about his thesis/hypothesis. On the other hand, his attempt to get on the "Web 2.0" buzzword gravy train is pretty transparent, and his attempts to spin it so that people who get "Web 2.0" fever will go to Cisco for their "solutions" is pretty gruesome to behold.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

He wants to define it as "collaboration" and show that he's got the platform tools to make it happen. However, it's going to take more than buying WebEx and integrating it into Cisco's unified communications tools. Companies like Avaya are already doing much cooler stuff than Cisco in the collaboration space. For example, using GPS tied to school buses in Florida to automatically send phone-based alerts to parents before the bus reaches the bus stop so that they can meet their kids.

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]Companies like Avaya are already doing much cooler stuff than Cisco in the collaboration space. For example, using GPS tied to school buses in Florida to automatically send phone-based alerts to parents before the bus reaches the bus stop so that they can meet their kids.[/i]" That's excellent, and shows an innovative spirit in an attempt to solve problems people didn't even know they had. Even that isn't "Web 2.0", though -- and only fits the definition of "Web 2.0" that Cisco's CEO is trying to push. Yeah, I agree -- he's just trying to redefine "Web 2.0" so that he can use the buzzword to the benefit of his company's market share. Unfortunately for him, I don't think it's going to work out that way.