I’ve learned a lot from Uncle John (Chambers) over the years. For example, How to charge a lot and not give too much to the customer (a critical factor in running a successful business and one of the hardest lessons for me).
In my view, its also been clear that Chambers hasn’t been committed to the Cisco for several years and the business has suffered from a lack of leadership. But investors didn’t want him to leave and so he stayed on longer than he wanted to or should have. I see a lack of decision making on products that are long past their lifetime and causing overall brand damage such as the Catalyst 6500/6800 product line 1. We saw the disruption caused by ACI/Insieme team pillaging staff and products from the WGBU and DCBU to meet their own goals with little guidance or control from executives.
Recent acquisitions like App Dynamics, Springpath have been questioned by investors for their high prices. I’m told that Cisco has a standard attack strategy for acquisitions where it sniffs around a market for a while, then has a chat before putting a once-only, take-it-today-or-its-over offer on the table 2
Cisco is a fine business with loyal customers and a chain of resellers that will sell whatever Cisco ships.
So here is hoping that Chuck Robbins can get control of the organisation which is very much in transition from the old to the new. I’m very hopeful following the rationalisation of the enterprise and security business under a single executive. The SD-Access strategy is a good sign that Cisco knows where it should go but the we know their execution has been weak for the last few years.
I don’t expect much to change, Chuck has been at Cisco for 20+years and investors aren’t expecting change or disruption just a steady stream of dividends and I expect Cisco will continue on much the same path.
Thanks Uncle John. Its been a good couple of decades for all of us and its time for everyone to move on.
This means us, too.
- Yes, I know Cisco has a hugely profitable long tail here. I hear they still selling more than a billion dollars of this product but customers are resisting modernisation. Cisco cannot move to a software defined future when customers continue to deploy 20–year old products that have serious operational and reliability problems dragging on their reputation. ↩
- Very Cisco-style. Lots of faux–aggression & cliff-edge posturing thats just like closing a sale where you can ‘crunch’ the customer for the order. Yes its childish but thats how many businesses operate. ↩