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Chambers: The Network is The Power of Us

LAS VEGAS -- For Cisco CEO and President John Chambers, social networking isn't just for kids. It's for business and it's the collaborative model that will propel productivity.

At last year's Interop, Chambers shared his vision of the network as the platform. At this year's Interop kickoff, he expanded the vision to version 2.0, or Web 2.0 to be more precise.

"The second phase of the Internet is how collaboration and Web 2.0 tools will forever change business," Chambers said as he marched around the packed room.

John Chambers
John Chambers
Source: Cisco

Chambers isn't just jumping on the mass media social networking bandwagon, either. He argued argued that Time Magazine got it wrong when they declared "You" to be the person of the year.

"They got it wrong and are looking to the past," Chambers said. "It's not about you. It's about 'us,' and collaboration is the way it's going to be expressed."

The "us" that Chamber referred to was also a coy reference to Cisco. Chamber reminded the audience that 15 years ago, Cisco said that the network would change every aspect of our lives, and where intelligence is everyone on the network. He noted that at COMDEX in 1997 he called for complete convergence. Now he's called for complete Web 2.0, and he's moving Cisco as fast as he can toward that goal.

"I believe that you should be able to use any device anywhere over any network, and the network is the platform," Chambers said.

The first wave of the Internet and the network was all about transaction and not interactions. The new Internet 2.0 is all about collaboration of many to many that is enabled by the network.

It's not just talk for Cisco, either.

"A lot of ideas you see with social networks we are doing now," Chambers said. "We're changing our business structure."

As a case in point Chambers described how Cisco's new collaborative model helps him acquire companies.

In March, Cisco acquired WebEx in a deal that took only eight days to close. According to Chambers, a Web 2.0 approach made it easier to close the deal faster. The same was the case with the company's 2005 purchase of Scientific Atlanta, which took 45 days to close.

Cisco is also using Web 2.0 approaches to get its products to market faster. The I-Zone Cisco wiki has thousands of ideas posted which then get whittled down to 250 feasible ideas, down 12 that get a business plan and ultimately three ideas that translate to new product and business units.

Chambers also showed off Cisco's unified communicator as a case in point for Web 2.0-type collaboration, which was mashed up with Google Maps to show that a person was available to do a demo in the building.

"It's about the power of us. It is our world and our ability to collaborate that will determine the future of companies."