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Cisco CEO: Give Enterprises a Map

Cisco must give decision-makers a long term view of how networks will evolve in order to help them boost corporate productivity, CEO John Chambers said.

That's the message Chambers took from meetings with executives at dozens of U.S. companies -- including the Big 3 automakers -- as he looks to divine future network needs.

"[The customers] are willing to pay a premium for this," Chambers said during a keynote kicking off the company's annual analyst meeting in San Jose, Calif., where analysts were also expected to query the company about low-priced competitors in Asian markets.

Chambers wants to draft product and systems roadmaps that offer insights on where they are headed one to three years out, as well as how they will work with other components of the network and IT infrastructure.

"It's nice to talk about [a specific technology being] a $1 billion market opportunity, or a $2 billion opportunity," he said.

But you also have to be realistic and tell customers how the products and systems tie together, Chambers added.

Proving that a company can boost its productivity by 1 percent or more will more than offset pricing differences with other vendors, Chambers said.

That also means that Cisco's sales team must know their prospects, and where they are technologically, compared to competitors. Chambers gave examples of integrated networks and technologies, such as Radio Frequency Identification , improving efficiency for hospitals and large retailers.

Chambers' remarks focused mainly on "re-igniting" enterprise customers. Other Cisco executives were slated to discuss the high-end router market, where Cisco has had some uneven quarters as of late.

On a larger scale, Chambers said he's seeing a slight increase in confidence in the economy but it's unclear whether it's a short-term gain or a longer trend.

Also at the meeting, Cisco CFO Dennis Powell said the company expects to meet analysts' expectations for 13 percent growth this fiscal year, which ends next July. He also expects 12 percent to 15 percent annual revenue growth through fiscal 2008.

Paul Shread contributed to this report.