John Chambers has asserted that Cisco must establish itself as the world's leading IT company as "brutal consolidation" eliminates the majority of the market incumbents.
Speaking on day one of Cisco's Worldwide Partner Summit in Boston, Chambers (pictured) gave a bullish opening keynote in which he claimed that Cisco has never lost a major battle to a rival. He also pledged to rev up the vendor's acquisition engine as it seeks to capitalise on what it believes is the next big trend in IT: the internet of everything. This trend brings with it $14.4tn in global sales opportunities in the next decade, claimed Chambers.
"We have made 15 major acquisitions [in the last year], mostly in software, mobility and cloud," he said. "We are going to put our foot down and be even more aggressive in terms of acquisitions."
The networking chief claimed that the history of the IT industry is littered with companies who claimed they would best Cisco in a particular area and failed to make good on that pledge.
"Far too often a competitor makes a statement and the market accepts it; but we have never lost a major battle in one of our core competencies," Chambers told attendees. "Of our competitors from 15-20 years ago, none of them are here today. From 10 years only Juniper still exists, and we are going to get them.
"From those of five years ago, companies like Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson are a shadow of what they used to be. A few years ago we were all worried about HP, Huawei and Avaya but we have left them behind as well."
The face of the major vendor landscape will begin to change even more quickly, with a period of "brutal consolidation" predicted by the Cisco leader. Key to his firm's success will be its becoming not just the world's leading communications manufacturer, but the foremost IT firm full stop.
"Out of the top five IT companies [currently] on Gartner's list, three will not be there in five years," said Chambers. "This is an industry that will consolidate - it will be musical chairs."
Despite its market leadership in most of its core markets, Cisco's head honcho told partners that they must help the vendor do a better job of satisfying customers.
"We are leading with [customer satisfaction] numbers of 3.6 or 3.8 [out of five] - no-one in the market is delighting their customers," he explained. "It is about how do we help them hit their business goals with a rapidly decreasing capex model, where appropriate."
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