& cplSiteName &

Cisco Charts a New Future in IT

Craig Matsumoto
12/7/2012
50%
50%

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) thinks it's time to take over the IT sector.

The company is launching a new strategy to emphasize service and software, taking advantage of the fact that IT has become more about the network than about the computer. That transition has been apparent for years now, and Cisco thinks it's time to pounce, to complete the transition to an IT vendor as opposed to a communications vendor.

"Most of our sales in the future will be heavily integrated with services," CEO John Chambers said in announcing the strategy on Friday. "Services are going to go from 20 to 21 percent of our business to 25 and beyond that if we execute right."

The percentage numbers might not seem impressive, but they represent the start of a major shift in Cisco's business. Going beyond routers and network architectures, Cisco now wants to provide an "Internet of everything," comprising major projects, such as water delivery for cities or smart highways populated by networked cars.

A new marketing campaign, with the theme "Tomorrow starts here" launches on Monday to back up the new philosophy. The campaign will be big and relentless, Chambers promised, full of interactive ads and social media.

Running the numbers
More subtly, the services focus means accepting that Cisco is no longer a hot growth company.

"We comfortably believe our long-term growth is in the 5 to 7 percent range," Chambers said. "For the last 10 years, we've been in the high end of that range." (Put more cynically, it means Cisco fell short of the 12 to 17 percent growth it predicted not so long ago.)

What's important about that 5 to 7 percent is to get revenues to occur more smoothly, Chambers said. By shifting emphasis to services and software, the company hopes to develop a base of recurring revenues to do just that.

Services are already in position there, representing $10 billion per year in revenues. The services business has been growing at 10 percent per year for 12 years, with gross margins of 65 percent, Chambers said.

Cisco's software sales will have to change, however, Chambers said. Software will continue to be tightly integrated with Cisco's hardware and Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs), but Cisco will have to learn how to charge for it on a recurring basis, letting customers pay for it as they add capabilities or expand networks.

Chambers thinks Cisco has a shot at doubling its standalone software revenues to $12 billion per year in the next three to five years.

Then there's security. As kind of a sub-goal within the larger IT goal, Chambers has tasked Senior Vice President Chris Young with trying to turn Cisco into the industry's top security player, increasing market share to 50 percent from the current 32 percent. It's a risky attempt that might not work out, Chambers admitted out loud Friday. Chambers's endgame
So, what makes Cisco belive it can pull this off? In Friday's talk, Chambers set the stage by pointing out, as he often does, that Cisco has managed to overtake the competition in many other major market transitions, the most recent being the company's entry into data-center servers.

In the services area, Chambers is playing off what he's been touting as Cisco's strengths: an ability to think big, an affinity for creating interwoven architectures of hardware and software, and really close ties with governments and the largest enterprises.

It's hard not to draw parallels to IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), which transformed from a computer company into more of a consultancy. Chambers, of course, previously worked at IBM and at Wang Laboratories, two technology giants whose power eventually crumbled.

The new strategy, whether it works or not, is likely to become Chambers's legacy at Cisco. He has told the media he's expecting to retire within four years.

— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Featured Video
From The Founder
Light Reading founder Steve Saunders talks with VMware's Shekar Ayyar, who explains why cloud architectures are becoming more distributed, what that means for workloads, and why telcos can still be significant cloud services players.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
May 14-16, 2018, Austin Convention Center
May 14, 2018, Brazos Hall, Austin, Texas
September 24-26, 2018, Westin Westminster, Denver
October 9, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
October 23, 2018, Georgia World Congress Centre, Atlanta, GA
November 7-8, 2018, London, United Kingdom
November 8, 2018, The Montcalm by Marble Arch, London
November 15, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
December 4-6, 2018, Lisbon, Portugal
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
I'm Back for the Future of Communications
Phil Harvey, US News Editor, 4/20/2018
BDAC Blowback – Ex-Chair Arrested
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 4/17/2018
Verizon: Lack of Interoperability, Consistency Slows Automation
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 4/18/2018
AT&T Exec Dishes That He's Not So Hot on Rival-Partner Comcast
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 4/19/2018
Facebook Hearings Were the TIP of the Data Iceberg
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 4/20/2018
Animals with Phones
I Heard There Was a Dresscode... Click Here
Live Digital Audio

A CSP's digital transformation involves so much more than technology. Crucial – and often most challenging – is the cultural transformation that goes along with it. As Sigma's Chief Technology Officer, Catherine Michel has extensive experience with technology as she leads the company's entire product portfolio and strategy. But she's also no stranger to merging technology and culture, having taken a company — Tribold — from inception to acquisition (by Sigma in 2013), and she continues to advise service providers on how to drive their own transformations. This impressive female leader and vocal advocate for other women in the industry will join Women in Comms for a live radio show to discuss all things digital transformation, including the cultural transformation that goes along with it.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed