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Cisco CEO Touts Latest Collaboration Strategy

Cisco's new management approach will enable the company to tackle 28 key objectives this year instead of the one or two it could handle in the past, John Chambers says.

Cisco's new management strategy will enable the company to tackle 28 key objectives this year instead of the one or two it could handle in the past, CEO John Chambers said in a video interview Thursday.

Spreading out from its dominance in network routing and switching, Cisco in recent days has moved aggressively into data centers, where it's offering new server-based technology, and into home entertainment, where it purchased Pure Digital Technologies and its popular Flip Video camera.

In the interview, Chambers said the company has been moving from a "command and control" style in which direction tends to emanate in a top-down manner to a "collaboration and teamwork" approach. The collaborative approach is facilitated by teleconferencing technologies that enable Cisco to interact with peers, supply chain partners, and customers "as if they are in the same room even though they are halfway around the world," Chambers said. The new collaborative model makes it possible for Cisco to comfortably handle 4,000 leads a week, he added.

Chambers ticked off a series of challenges the company has confronted since the early 1990s and said there "has never been a more trying time then the present time." He noted that Cisco has not only survived the past "boom and bust cycles" but has emerged from each one stronger than when it entered each challenge. Cisco has a large cash war chest, and Chambers has indicated it will be used to make good strategic acquisitions -- its $590 million purchase last week of Pure Digital would be a good example.

While decrying the current global economic meltdown and criticizing unnamed business leaders for their "wrong" and sometimes "illegal" behavior, he indicated strong business leadership will be required during this trying period and said the results won't be visible for two or three years.

Chambers pointed out that Cisco came out of earlier difficult periods stronger than ever. "We always increased our market share," he said. "In many cases we became No. 1 in the product areas we moved into."

A good example of collaboration was presented last week when Cisco unveiled its ambitious drive into data centers in partnership with BMC Software, Citrix Systems, EMC, Intel, Microsoft, SAP, VMware, and others. In his interview, Chambers said collaboration represents "the future of leadership around the world" and he seemed to be addressing not just technology markets, but other spheres of commerce and even government as well.

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