Chambers: Networking Is Back - InformationWeek

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Chambers: Networking Is Back

Cisco's CEO said in his keynote speech at NetWorld+Interop that IT spending is on the upswing, and that Investments In IT are helping to improve productivity.

Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers gave a standing-room-only crowd at the NetWorld+Interop show the same good news he had delivered during the company's quarterly earnings call: IT spending is clearly on an uptick, as evidenced by Cisco's profitable showing.

Chambers also told the crowd, some of whom had lined up 45 minutes before his Wednesday evening keynote speech at the Las Vegas trade show, that "Clearly, something fundamental has changed over the last three months." CEOs, he added, seem to have "taken their foot off the [spending] brake.

"It's a pleasure for networking to be back," he added.

Chambers spent a good part of his hour-long speech talking about Cisco's different areas of technology focus--a list that includes security, IP telephony and wireless, and its core switch and router business. But he also emphasized the need to change business processes to take advantage of IT, a task he said was more important than just writing a check for more networking gear.

"You can spend a lot of money [on IT] and be disappointed," Chambers said, using Cisco's own experiences with E-learning tools as an example. Cisco didn't reap productivity rewards from the expensive rollout of E-learning technology, he said, until the company changed delivery methods to allow for more flexible learning on schedules that better fit employees' needs.

Companies need to change their business processes to take advantage of the productivity gains technology can deliver, he said. The network "is the enabler of business strategy. But if you don't change the underlying process, you will not get the benefits."

On the technology side, Chambers said that Cisco's IP telephony business showed a 25% growth in the last quarter, a sign that an overall move to IP-based telephony is a given. "It's more a question how quickly people move" to IP telephony, he said.

In a humorous demonstration near the end of the talk, a Cisco employee walked Chambers through the security systems for a fictional company, showing an integrated approach that linked security cameras, phones, loudspeakers, and PCs with software that could identify personnel, detect rogue wireless access points, and deliver instant messages over a single IP network.

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