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Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers said the reason Cisco has outlasted so many of its former networking peers and now finds itself well-positioned to become the world's premier IT company is because it's been able to see market transitions more quickly and reinvent itself when necessary.
More than 53,000 active partners bank on Cisco, said Chambers, because Cisco is the best opportunity to boost their top and bottom lines. And now that Cisco is a more streamlined organization, he added, it's easier to do business with and is better able to serve the channel, which touches 80 percent of Cisco's $46 billion in annual revenue.
"When you partner with Cisco, you partner with a company that doesn't lose," Chambers told CRN in an exclusive interview from the company's San Jose, Calif., headquarters this month. "When we need to reinvent ourselves, we do."
Last year, Cisco mounted a massive, companywide restructuring that eliminated more than 15,000 jobs, removed $1 billion in operating expenses a quarter earlier than expected, moved executives around, pared down Cisco’s cumbersome internal system of councils and boards and streamlined other processes that Cisco observers said stymied decision-making.
Cisco also promised partners and customers that it would focus on its most important priorities, including core networking, data center, collaboration, video and business architectures vs. the "30 to 50 adjacencies" it had previously been touting. Since then, Cisco earnings have stabilized, Cisco adjusted its previously lofty growth targets to a more realistic 2 percent to 4 percent, and the company is gearing up for what Chambers said, if done right, will be a non-event CEO succession.
Cisco took its medicine, Chambers said, and it's come out of the chute looking much better -- and a far better bet for channel partners -- than most of its tier-one vendor peers.
"We have never varied off of consistency," he said. "Even though we were challenged, we see those challenges one, two, three, sometimes four quarters ahead of everyone else. Oracle, IBM, Juniper, HP, Dell. What is their year-over-year growth? Negative 2, negative 3, negative 4, negative 5, negative 8 percent. And remember two quarters ago when Intel said we don't see the problems in enterprise spending and the global environment that Cisco's seeing? Four months later, they miss a quarter by $1 billion. There may be no reward for being transparent, but that's who we are as a company."