Cisco chief executive John Chambers outlined how Cisco has pulled away from competitors Juniper and HP in the past year during a bullish opening keynote at this week's Cisco Partner Summit.
The networking chief told partners assembled in San Diego this morning that he felt competition is less tough than it was a year ago as Cisco's ability to evolve and track market trends has seen it best its rivals. The vendor's move towards architectures, rather than siloed products, has been a key differentiator, he explained.
"Our peers have stayed focused on individual products for way too long," said Chambers.
He claimed that average products and services are no longer viable, while above average wares will no longer be acceptable in three to five years. Rivals, such as Juniper and HP, offering customers "just good-enough [solutions] at 30 per cent off" are losing ground to Cisco, he asserted.
"[In the last year] Juniper got themselves spread too thin and we got them; first in service provider, then in the enterprise," he said.
Chambers pointed to the ever-changing make-up of the Fortune 500 as evidence of businesses' need to constantly evolve. Some 87 per cent of the firms that made up the list when he took charge of Cisco in 1995 are now no longer on there, he said.
"The average company used to stay on there for 75 years; today that is 15 years, and that is on its way to single digits," he added.
Chambers asked partners to make sure they had the right personnel to ensure they could keep up with the changing landscape and flourish.
"There will be a war for talent [that can] bring expertise into your customer environments. I am talking about transformation at a [great] speed," he said. "The hardest thing is to convince [customers]: ‘this is why you have to buy today, this is why Cisco and its partners are the only choice you can make'."
The simple life
The Cisco chief also pledged today that the vendor will continue to try and make itself easier to do business with. Last year Gary Moore was appointed as chief operating officer to try and streamline an operational and executional model that Chambers admitted was bloated.
Moore told VARs that, over the last year, initiatives he has implemented have allowed partners to turn opportunities to orders 35 per cent faster. The order-booking process has been made 50 per cent faster, he claimed.
"We know how important it is for partners to make money and, when we have barriers like we have had, it slows you down," said Moore. "We [have been] focused on the low-hanging fruit level. We will then focus on the rest of [the business]."
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