New Cisco CEO's Message? Faster, Faster, Faster

Chuck Robbins gives some insight into his leadership style and the massive opportunity that the Internet of Things represents to Cisco.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Oct 7, 2015
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Named the new CEO of Cisco on May 4, Chuck Robbins officially took over the role from outgoing CEO John Chambers on July 27. While Chambers was a fast-moving executive, Robbins wants to be even faster.

At the Cisco Global Editors conference this week, Robbins provided some very candid statements about the direction he will be taking Cisco.

"Every customer knows that technology enables their strategy," Robbins said. "No customer says that they think technology is not necessary."

The potential for the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) era is another truism that Robbins doesn't think any company can or will ignore. Robbins figures that when 500 billion devices all get connected, there will be a need for massively distributed intelligence, as well as hardware.

"We're going to need a bigger router, Pankaj," Robbins said to Cisco EVP and Chief Development Officer Pankaj Patel.

The IoT era will also force a paradigm shift in how organizations think about security.

"We don't have a castle anymore, we can't put a moat around it," Robbins said.

From a Software Defined Networking (SDN) perspective, Robbins didn't mince his words either.

"Everything we build will be programmable," Robbins said. As Chambers often reiterated time and again, Cisco is all about capturing market transitions, and the same will be true in the Robbins era, at an ever faster pace.

New Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins leadership style"I believe we have to move faster, faster, faster, faster," Robbins said. "Somebody says we'll have something in 30 days, I say three weeks."

Robbins said one executive came to him and said a new effort would take 18 months to complete. Robbins said to do it in nine.

"I don't even know, but it just feels good to just go faster," Robbins said.

Part of going faster is about simplifying things and being more clear. The dichotomy is that the world is complex, and Cisco is in the business of solving complex problems for its customers.

"I joke with our teams that here at Cisco, for a long time we used to equate your intellectual capacity with the complexity of your powerpoint slides," Robbins said. "No more."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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