17 Things CEO Chuck Robbins Said About Cloud, Cisco's Future Technology Bets And The Channel's Monster Infrastructure Modernization Opportunity

Chuck's Been Busy

It's only been eight months since Cisco's last channel conference, but the IT market has been moving pretty fast in that time, said CEO Chuck Robbins Tuesday during a keynote address at the 2016 Cisco Partner Summit in San Francisco.

"Since the last Partner Summit [in March] I've had one-on-one meetings with 300 customers and partners, and I have listened and talked and really understood what's happening in the marketplace, and I tell you, it's never been moving any faster than it is right now. Never," Robbins said.

In a 45-minute address to 2,200 Cisco solution providers, Robbins laid out the key trends he sees driving Cisco's future sales today and where channel partners should be placing their bets. Here are some of the key takeaways.

1. We're In The Midst of The Biggest Tech Transformation Of Our Lifetimes

"We live in a world where everything is going to be connected. It's happening. And for all of us in this room who have been working together for two decades, we've seen this movie before. We've connected disparate systems, we've connected disparate technologies, disparate protocols, and we've created greater value for our customers as a result of all of those connections and the value that we can create above it. And what's going to happen now is it's going to happen across every industry at once. Every industry is going to happen at the same time. So we're literally going to go through the biggest technology transformation that we've seen in our lifetime. I believe that."

2. No Job Will Be The Same After This

"We went through the advent of the internet. It changed the way we do e-commerce, it changed the way we did customer service at the time, it changed our connectivity and how we communicated. Oddly enough, it changed how we think about the word "friend." It changed everything, but that's nothing compared to what we're going to see over the next decade, because we're going to see it happen across every industry. Every job is going to change as a result of this technology transition, and all of us are going to make it happen. And if being the biggest transition isn't enough, know that it's also the fastest. It is moving faster than anything we've seen before."

3. Digital Transformation Will Impact A Big Piece Of The Global Economy

"As we look at what this is going to do from an impact perspective on the global economy, our friends at Accenture have said that by 2020, 25 percent of the world's economy will be as a result of these digital initiatives."

4. Cisco's Already Digitizing Six Major Countries, And Counting

"We have cities around the world that are competing for jobs, for citizens, for talent. Cisco has formal digitization agendas going in six major countries and about five more that we're working on right now at the absolute head of state, talking about how does technology fundamentally change GDP trajectory for a country, how does it create jobs? How does it drive innovation? How does it change health care? How does it drive education? How do I deal with a refugee crisis more effectively? How do I automate citizen services? How do I ease traffic congestion in cities? Everything's happening. And they're looking at this technology and what it can do with all of the classic things that business leaders and country and city leaders look for. Because yes, country leaders and city leaders look for new revenue streams. It's called taxes. They're looking at how technology changes everything."

5. Things Are Getting Connected Right Now

"In Q1 of this calendar year, Q1, there were more [net new] cars connected to the internet than mobile phones. That was Q1. We're in Q4 ... Fast forward to Q2, the total [Internet of Things] connections, machine-to-machine connections, were greater than phones and tablets combined. It's happening. We're connecting vending machines, we're connecting vehicles, we're connecting remote [point of sale] stations and terminals, we're connecting soda machines, we're connecting everything."

6. Today's Infrastructure Isn't Ready For Digital Transformation

"At the same time, and we know this probably better than anyone, and I mean we collectively, that 88 percent of the customers, according to Accenture and Pega, 88 percent of the customers do not have the right technology in place to actually accelerate their digital strategy."

7. Line of Business Is Driving IT Spending, But IT Departments Aren't Out Of The Picture

"When we talk to IT organizations inside of our customers, we talked about this whole notion a few years ago that all of the money was moving to line of business, and we know that didn't quite happen the way everyone said. And now what we see happening is we see the lines of business and we see the IT organizations understanding that they have to operate more cohesively because while the line of business wants to move faster, they also need to do it within the context of a broader IT security strategy. So the IT organizations are becoming more and more concerned that when the line of business decides they need to move because there's incredible business value behind the use of this technology, our infrastructure will not be ready."

8. The Channel's $7 Opportunity

"Gartner has suggested that for every $1 that our customers would like to spend on innovation, it will require $7 of modernization of their technology infrastructure. $7. That's our opportunity. That's our collective opportunity with our customers. As I think about how we bridge from that opportunity to our capabilities, leading to our customers achieving that incredible business benefit, which is ultimately all they care about, we have the collective portfolio between all of us in this room. We have unbelievable capabilities, and we have the most comprehensive ecosystem on the planet to help our customers navigate this perceived disruption."

9. It's Going To Be Fast, And You're Not Going To Like It

"This is going to force all of us to move at a pace that is uncomfortable. And we're going to have to make decisions sometimes when we have about 80 percent of the information that we'd like to have, and then we're going to have to adjust. And if you wait until you have every ounce of information that you need to make a decision because you're afraid to make a mistake, you will die. It is imperative upon all of us to move at greater speed than we ever have before. WE have to drive innovation at a pace that makes us all uncomfortable, and we have to embrace flexibility in how our customers want to buy our technology. Do they want to buy it as a service? Do they want to buy an integrated system? However it is they would like to consume the service to get them to the business value first is how we have to approach them."

10. Everything Has to Be Simple, Intelligent, Automated And Secure

"These are four things you can count on from us in every aspect of our relationship with you and our innovation as we move forward. First and foremost, you can be assured that everything has to be simpler. Everything. ... We have to be able to move faster together ... We have to leverage the intelligence that's available in this technology. Everything about analytics and what we can learn from the network. The network has seen everything for 20 years. We should unleash the power of that intelligence for our customers to know more about what's going on, automated. You're going to continue to see us drive more and more innovation around the automation and the ability to implement technology at a much more rapid pace with a higher degree of consistency. And then finally, secure. Everything has to be simple, intelligent, automated and secure."

11. Automate, Automate, Automate

"We have to deliver that automation in that core. We have to deliver the analytics out of the core and we have to do security at the network layer. We have to, and that's what you're going to see from our teams going forward. That's in the enterprise in the networking space, you're going to see that in the service provider space, so much focus on automation, and over the next several months you're going to see continued innovation from us that's really going to bring analytics, automation and security deep into the infrastructure for our customers."

12. Cloud Doesn't Just Mean Public Cloud

"There is a broad array of cloud-based solutions that our customers are trying to navigate. It's not just about the public cloud. The public cloud is a very important part of it ... but there are six or seven different elements relevant to cloud that our customers are trying to deal with, and all of that has to be done in the context of the security discussion. So as we look at our cloud strategy, we actually span all of these areas. Our intent, together with you, is to be the most trusted partner for our customers as they navigate their entire cloud strategy, and that's a multi-cloud strategy, it's a hybrid cloud strategy. Gartner, IDC, many of the analysts have said that 90-plus percent of cloud deployments will be hybrid."

13. Cisco Is Stepping Up Its Pace Of Innovation In Both Software And Hardware

"You're going to see us drive more innovation over the next year than you have in a long time. Our teams are so energized, they're so excited. I met with a few of them a couple of weeks ago and we looked at roadmaps and I said, you should pull that in. They chased me down here at the event and said, "We pulled it in. We're going to announce sooner." We're going to give you more in new innovation to help your customers than you've seen in a long time. We're going to give you a combination of software when the customer needs software. If software will solve the problem, let's solve it with software. If it's a high-performance problem where you need integrated systems and integrated hardware with high-performance ASICs because you're going to do wire-speed analytics and security at the packet layer, then let's build integrated systems with rich software and massively high-performance hardware. We'll do both."

14. Cisco's Getting Into Augmented Reality

"We already have teams that are working on the implications and how we should think about next-generation technologies like augmented reality ... Imagine a world where you pull together our collaboration portfolio, overlay augmented reality with an IoT solution, and just think for a moment about what your customer will be able to do. Low-power capabilities, artificial intelligence, machine learning, these are happening now. The artificial intelligence and machine learning that's going on in security, some of the work that I know is going on in collaboration around next-generation artificial intelligence and voice response capabilities ... there's tremendous innovation in the pipeline, and we can't deliver that without you."

15. Things Are Cool, But Don't Forget People Still Have To Connect Too

"Thing we think about our ability to drive these connections of things, we ought to make sure we're connecting our people effectively. So you're going to see us continue to drive a tremendous amount of innovation around connecting people. ... You're going to see us extend Spark so that it can be integrated into applications everywhere. In my view, every as-a-service application that has any level of interaction should have Spark and our collaboration portfolio integrated deeply into it, and that's what the team's going to do. You're going to see next-generation collaboration devices that are managed from the cloud. You're going to see artificial intelligence and machine learning coming with some new technology that leverages what we know inside the infrastructure, inside the network, and helps continue to drive automation and simplicity in this space, and you're going to see us bring together and converge messaging and meetings and all those technologies that many of you have asked us to bring together. You're going to see us do that over the next few months."

16. Chuck Is Still A Channel Guy

"My heart is in this room. I worked in the partner organization from 1999 until what I believe is today, because I don't think I ever left. We are committed. ... You should trust that we are going to deliver innovation across all the areas that I talked about today and that we're going to continue to invest in you being successful with cloud with your customers. One thing I know: Partnerships matter. No one can do this alone. We can't, you can't. So just like our customers are having to decide who they are going to bet on, we, much like many of our competitors, also have to decide who we are betting on. That's easy. Because we have history, we know each other. We're not perfect. We don't have to convince you of something we're going to do because we've done it for 20 years. We trust you, you trust us. Our customers trust both of us. Because of this history we have together and this trust, we've had tremendous success."

17. Cisco Is Committed To Winning With The Channel

"If you don' t take any other message away, I want you to know one thing. We have navigated every transition that we have faced together over the last two decades, and we are going to navigate the next one. I really believe that given the pace of change and the complexity in everything our customers are trying to deal with out there, there's never been a better time for you, and my commitment is we will do everything in our power for us to win together."