Chambers Rallies Cisco Partners Following Long Year Of Restructuring


Heading into 2012, Chambers said, the most important market transitions are addressed by end-to-end strategic partnerships focused on business transformation. He made frequent allusions to Cisco's restructuring and how it's making Cisco easier with which to do business.

"We must change -- not transition, but change," he said. "We got fat, we added a lot of layers, and when you get fat in a corporation, you know what happens."

Companies that are average don't make it, Chambers said, and companies that are above average as competitors only ride that for three to five years. There's always a new technology, new competitor and new strategy to understand, said Chambers, noting that 87 percent of the Fortune 500 companies that were on the list when Chambers became Cisco's CEO in 1995 are no longer there.

Cisco survived its restructuring largely unscathed, Chambers said.

"We did not lose share or spend in any major enterprise or service provider [account] in the world," he declared.

Cisco trimmed $1 billion operating expenses and re-aligned 23,000 employees, Chambers said. Gary Moore, Cisco's chief operating officer, added that thanks to Cisco's restructuring efforts, sales quotes are now turning 35 percent faster and overall order bookings are now 50 percent faster than before.

Among other briefly-touched-on topics, Chambers also called out the software-defined networking (SDN) trend -- a technology area in which Cisco is rumored to be working on new products -- but didn't expound much beyond that it was an important new focus for Cisco.

Overall, Chambers said Cisco will also continue to invest in its cloud strategy and how it addresses solution providers as part of its year-old Cisco Cloud Partner Program.

"Cloud is the most network-centric technology ever," he said.

Keith Goodwin, senior vice president, worldwide partner organization, and other executives detailed additional changes Cisco plans to make this year.

Wendy Bahr, senior vice president, global and transformational partner organization, said from the stage that Cisco will launch a VXI Accelerator Framework that organizes various sales and marketing tools, co-branding resources and incentives into what Bahr called "an open and nonproprietary solution set built on Cisco architectures." VXI, or Virtualization Experience Infrastructure, is Cisco's platform for virtual desktop.

Edison Peres, senior vice president, worldwide channels, added that Cisco is also changing the way it designs value-based partner programs and will now incorporate the criteria investors use when evaluating solution providers they want to acquire.

Many investors are taking long looks at major companies in the Cisco channel, Peres noted, and they look primarily at operating profit, growth potential, sustainability and business risk when eyeing potential targets. Cisco will fine-tune its channel programs to reflect a lot of those priorities, Peres explained.

NEXT: Cisco Partners Weigh In On Chambers Message