As the digital economy gains momentum, CIOs will have to reassess and evolve their technology vendor portfolio. CIOs need to evaluate if their main technology vendors support the required new business practices and focus on crucial technologies.

Cisco has made massive investments in its portfolio and go-to-market strategies that help to sustain its role as a preferred vendor to most of its clients. We believe, however, that Cisco still has some distance to travel to transform its skillsets and business culture to become a truly strategic technology provider. The recent leadership transition offers Cisco the opportunity to redouble its efforts to strengthen its digital and customer experience skills, flatten its corporate hierarchies, and build a strong digital ecosystem of software and services partners. Our main observations when scrutinizing Cisco as a vendor in the emerging digital ecosystem are that:

  • Cisco is on the path to becoming a partner of the CIO's technology agenda.Cisco has launched programs to change its operational setup, its business culture, its compensation incentives, and its skillsets. Its willingness to disrupt itself positions Cisco well to eventually transform from a network business into a global BT provider.
  • A gap remains between top management's vision and Cisco's go-to-market pitch.Cisco's vision to transform from selling networking boxes to selling architectures, solutions, and business outcomes is spot-on. However, we still perceive a go-to-market approach focused on engineering and products. This disconnect remains a challenge to becoming a strategic technology provider.
  • Cisco must ramp up its ecosystem of app developers.Feedback from the app developer community suggests that most app developers still don't care much about Cisco. Cisco's undeveloped ecosystem for app developers is a real challenge for Cisco's intention to become a strategic technology provider.

In the report Understanding Cisco's Role In Your Business Technology Strategy, we analyze to what extent Cisco will or will not be a leading contributor to the business technology (BT) agenda. We highlight the steps that Cisco has undertaken toward transforming itself into a provider of BT solutions. But we also investigate the challenges Cisco must overcome to attain its goal of becoming a strategic business partner.