Running head: CISCO: CHANGING THE WAY WE WORK, LIVE, PLAY AND LEARN 1. Cisco: Changing the Way We Work, Live, Play and Learn

Running head: CISCO: CHANGING THE WAY WE WORK, LIVE, PLAY AND LEARN Cisco: Changing the Way We Work, Live, Play and Learn Interviews with John Chambe...
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Running head: CISCO: CHANGING THE WAY WE WORK, LIVE, PLAY AND LEARN

Cisco: Changing the Way We Work, Live, Play and Learn Interviews with John Chambers and Adam Denenberg Alice Chow Northwestern University

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CISCO: CHANGING THE WAY WE WORK, LIVE, PLAY AND LEARN

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Cisco: Changing the Way We Work, Live, Play and Learn Interviews with John Chambers and Adam Denenberg

How has Cisco, the world’s largest provider of internet networking and communications equipment, changed the way we work, live, play and learn? Will Cisco continue to lead the overall technology industry in the 21st century? In an interview in 2008, Cisco’s CEO John Chambers shared his thoughts with Harvard Business Review editors B. Fryer and T. Stewart about the importance of identifying and capturing “market transitions”. His predictions back in the mid-1990s of free phone calls and more collaborations have all come to be true today. In my interview with Adam Denenberg, Director of IT with Wilmette Public School District, he commented on how teachers and students benefit from Cisco’s strategy of providing a unified communications with voice, video and data integration. This advancement in technology has certainly played a huge role in shaping our current educational approach. In Fryer’s and Stewart’s article (2008), John Chambers emphasized the importance of market transitions and capitalizing on them. A market transition as a “subtle but clear disruptive shift” occurs many years before the market actually grasps its significance and adapts to it. This shift provides new opportunity to take market share or move into new market adjacencies. It could be a process shift, like the shift to open source software. It could also be a business model shift from phone-based to webbased customer support. In the 1990s, Chambers took clues from customers who shifted away from proprietary networks toward Internet Protocol-based networks. He saw a tremendous market opportunity to build equipment that would support voice over IP (VoIP). His vision was way ahead of

CISCO: CHANGING THE WAY WE WORK, LIVE, PLAY AND LEARN

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the technology and well before anyone else’s prediction. Today, Cisco has become the major provider of VoIP not only to enterprises, but also to home users through its acquisitions of Scientific Atlanta and Linksys. Linksys partners with Skype, Microsoft and Yahoo to integrate VoIP services with wireless phones and other mobile devices. Scientific Atlanta, on the other hand, supplies VoIP/video equipment to cable service providers such as Time Warner, Cable vision and Rogers Communication. Two things that are uniquely Cisco: its focus on entering and expanding markets only when there are market transitions, and it’s 100% driven by customers, from routers, to switches, to voice, to video and to platform of all things. The other massive shift with Cisco is its internal and external collaborations. Chambers and his leadership team learned early on from companies like General Electric, Boeing, and General Motors not to compete with their customers but rather to collaborate with them. So today they have a very strong partnership with telecommunications carriers. Companies that partner with Cisco can offer cloud-based services based on Cisco’s virtualized Unified Computing System (UCS). In addition to collaborations, Cisco has acquired a variety of companies over the years, bringing new products and talents into the company. Internally, Chambers shifted his management style from command and control to collaboration and teamwork. For instance, major priorities at Cisco are managed not by top 5 to 10 executives but instead by cross-functional, collaborative councils and boards. In the past, new products were developed by a handful of Cisco’s engineers. Today Cisco’s “i-Prize” incentive encourages engineers from around the world to submit ideas for an emerging technology. Chambers summed it up by saying “these new collaborative behaviors and technologies are changing the way we approach every aspect of our business – acquisitions, sales, engineering, legal, communication, marketing, and other business functions – significantly accelerating innovation, productivity, and growth.”

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As the Director of IT at Wilmette Public School District, Adam Denenberg shared his thoughts with me regarding how technology has enriched student learning and fostered better parent/teacher communications. About two years ago, all the classrooms at our school district are equipped with smartboards. Lesson plans from laptops are projected onto the smart-boards with touch-screen capability for interactive learning. Skype, iChat, and Google video have facilitated teachers to conduct interviews with authors. With the technology, grandparents who live far away get to read to students in class. Denenberg projected that in the near future the administration will purchase additional iPads so students can use them both at school and at home. Currently, the schools use Cisco access points for all the buildings and Avaya for the phone system that can convert voicemail to e-mail. Denenberg saw an increase in the use of wireless hand held devices in the future. With iPads readily available for students, Denenberg commented that students can receive reverse learning and instruction by watching lectures or content driven media at home and do “homework” at school with more time for hands on activities and projects. This innovative learning approach made me think of the online networking class that I am currently taking at Northwestern Univ. where I can get access to the course content remotely and interact with other students from various parts of the country. On an even larger scale, Coursera has offered free online courses to those with internet access anywhere around the world. As Chambers has envisioned, technology is rapidly changing and will be continually changing the way we live, work, play and learn!

CISCO: CHANGING THE WAY WE WORK, LIVE, PLAY AND LEARN Reference Fryer, B., & Stewart, T. (2008) Cisco sees the Future – The HBR Interview with John Chambers. Harvard Business Review, 86(11), 72-79.

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