Chambers Prods CIOs: Add Business Value Now - InformationWeek
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5/22/2007
01:25 PM
Tom Smith
Tom Smith
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Chambers Prods CIOs: Add Business Value Now

John Chambers has some feedback and some advice for CIOs. Speaking in an Interop keynote address, the Cisco CEO says half of CIOs are viewed as adding value to their business while half are viewed as expense areas "and that's not good."

John Chambers has some feedback and some advice for CIOs. Speaking in an Interop keynote address, the Cisco CEO says half of CIOs are viewed as adding value to their business while half are viewed as expense areas "and that's not good."Chambers seems to have good visibility into the role of the CIO, given all the CEOs -- of Wal-Mart, GE, and other titans -- whose names he dropped. Using his own "handpicked" CIO of seven months as an example, Chambers says he struggled for the first three months while he looked for insights into how IT could support his business vision, and his CIO talked about IT programs and architectures. For those CIOs or aspiring CIOs in attendance, it carries some weight to hear from a CEO of Chambers' stature that they must speak his language, not the language of techies.

The need for CIOs to support business goals and move aggressively on business strategy is urgent, he notes, because the typical CEO is in place for only four to five years. Chambers himself has bucked that trend, having been at the helm of Cisco since the early '90s.

Separately, Chambers cited dramatic examples of how Cisco is benefiting from the use of its own technology. Its $7 billion purchase of Scientific Atlanta in 2005 took 45 days, while this year's $3 billion acquisition of WebEx took eight days; he said unified communications and collaboration tools made it possible to shorten the process by not requiring all relevant parties to be physically present at all times. The PR campaign around the deal was managed by a Cisco employee on a remote basis.

A demonstration of Cisco's unified communications technology reflected once again the Mac's growing momentum and cachet as a computing platform. Company employees who joined Chambers on stage made several quips about the superior functionality and usability of the Mac as part of their demonstration of software that ran across Mac and PC. Score another one for Apple.

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