Cisco's declared intention to further invest in key priority areas in its portfolio, such as security, IoT, collaboration, next generation data center and cloud, did not come as a great surprise to Forrester.

Last year, we evaluated Cisco’s efforts to transform itself  from a network business to a global provider of business technology (BT) — the technology, systems, and processes to win, serve, and retain customers — and a strategic partner to CIOs and CTOs. Cisco launched several programs to change its operational set-up, its business culture, its compensation incentives, and also its skillsets.  

Cisco’s vision and willingness to disrupt itself by moving away from selling networking boxes to selling architectures, solutions, and business outcomes is spot-on. Cisco shows clear efforts to transform its go-to-market approach away from its strong traditional focus on engineering and products. This shift is part of Cisco’s aim to become a true BT provider.

Compared to other networking vendors, Cisco is ahead of its peers in terms of developing and executing on initiatives to support the CIO’s BT agenda. However, Cisco’s goal of being a strategic provider means that its peer group no longers consists of  just network equipment suppliers.

Some of Cisco’s traditional customers still perceives Cisco as riding the wave of “certified network engineers.” While this perception remains an effective part of supporting Cisco’s main cash generating activities, it does not help to improve Cisco’s positioning or make it a partner for the CIO’s BT agenda. To close this gap, Cisco is transforming further toward providing services and solutions, strengthening its software capabilities, and ramping up its ecosystem of app developers.

For a more detailed analysis of Cisco as a BT partner for CIOs please see my blog and the related report: “Understanding Cisco's Role In Your BT Strategy”.