Cisco CEO: 'Back to basics'

It was a packed auditorium that greeted John Chambers, chief executive of Cisco Systems, as he delivered his keynote address to the company's Networkers conference in Brisbane on Wednesday.

Chambers' message was simple: the Internet Economy is about customers, productivity and cash. And to be successful in these areas, Chambers says enterprises are going to have to "get back to basics".

It has been four years since Chambers was last in Australia. Taking the opportunity provided by Networkers, Chambers assured its customers that Cisco has committed to listen, share and deliver more than ever before.

Chambers' speech followed three days of high-level discussions with 2000 Australian government and business leaders, including Commonwealth Bank chief David Murray. Murray lambasted the US IT industry last week at the World Conference of Information Technology in Adelaide, saying it had "single-handedly wrecked the world economy over the last couple of years".

Chambers' conclusion at Networkers is that even IT critics "get it" when it comes to understanding the potential productivity gains which network and application infrastructure offer.

Cisco itself was frequently used as an example in Chambers' address in terms of the company's productivity gains and cost savings derived from the use of Web-based applications.

It was with some vindication that Chambers described the company's controversial structural change nine months ago, in which it began concentrating on 11 technology areas, rather than four horizontal markets. Chambers described the move as a "massive upheaval", but one that has extended the company's lead in the sector. Chambers said that Cisco's market capitalisation was two-and-a-half times the size of all of Cisco's competitors combined.

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