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Chambers 2.0

LAS VEGAS -- Interop -- John Chambers is here to tell you that Web 2.0 won't just improve your social life; it could help improve your productivity too.

Replaying themes he's used in various speeches lately, the Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) CEO used his bully pulpit at the Interop show in Las Vegas today to talk about why he considers Web 2.0 the "next wave" in the evolution of the Internet and how it will drive massive productivity increases in the wider world as well.

"I intend to be controversial," he told the crowd at the show. Chambers predicts that, like the initial flourishing of the internet, this nouveau vague of Web collaboration tools could increase overall productivity by as much as 5 percent. Key elements would include better business collaboration as well as integration between work and home life.

"It will be, in my opinion, a replay of the first Internet wave, except it will be bigger, faster, and more fun," Chambers said.

This time, however, businesses will not be in the driving seat, at least initially. "The consumer will drive the next wave," through applications such as social networking and location services, he said.

These are already beginning to trickle down to the workplace, Chambers noted, with more collaborative business structures being enabled by Web 2.0 tools.

This will mean managers having to unlearn "top-down command structure" thinking, Chambers reckons. "It’s a people problem," he told the crowd, noting that Cisco has already experienced how a more decentralized management structure can be confusing for some.

As is typical, Chambers didn't dwell too long on what Cisco will actually have to do, technology-wise, to enable "the next wave of collaboration." Cisco, he says, is "moving as fast as we can" towards Web 2.0.

For the company, this will involve things like allowing delivery of "any content to any device over any network." And enabling more sophisticated user interfaces for a variety of applications: Business people won't do it with their thumbs but with "point and click" and video, he said.

The company will also have to address the issue of linking people and devices to the best network available at any one time. "It will be a fixed and mobile world. Mobile won't replace fixed," Chambers says. "We clearly intend to lead as the network becomes the platform, make no mistake."

Still the CEO now believes that Web 2.0 does have a major driving application. "For the first time in my 17 years in the industry, I said there's a killer app, and it is video," Chambers told the audience. "Video helps promote... not 50 percent network growth, but 200-300 percent network growth."

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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