On my recent recruiting trip to Stanford, I got an opportunity to listen to and meet with John Chambers (CEO, Cisco). He shared his views on the sustained market leadership position maintained by Cisco in several market segments (networking – routers, switching, voice, etc.) John attributed Cisco’s (almost) consistent market leadership to his team’s ability to catch market transitions, before they become obvious. In 2000, when Cisco was enjoying a solid market position in routers and switches, John had bet on the vision that voice, data and video will be delivered over the same platform and it paid off.
John believes that "networking" affords Moore’s law on steroids, as the speed(bandwidth) doubles every 12 months (as opposed to 18 months for microprocessors), for the same cost. Speaking about the next "big" transition – the concept of "Network as a platform" stands out. He envisions a network, which is aware of the type of applications that run on it – rather than the applications that need to be aware of the network. On a high level, he believes in that the next trends are going to be around "interactions" (information >> transactions >> interactions), and the fact that high bandwidth will be much cheaper in the near future, the scope of applications and their interactions should be impressive. John believes that video will have a big role to play in the next few years.
Speaking of R&D, he believes that corporations have consistently failed in creating breakthrough research contributions in the technology sector (citing Xerox PARC, IBM and Wang labs). In his opinion, the best way to foster research is through lobbying the government to give more research grants to academic institutions.
On a non-tech side, I found John as a prolific "connector". Whether he was giving a public lecture or talking in person, he made the other person feel his "equal". He entered the room in a business suit, but took off his coat, when he found that no one else was formally dressed.
I’ll write about my visit to the Google campus in the next post.
Let’s change the world!