Cisco: Collaboration Is Key to Business

By Stan Gibson  |  Posted 2009-09-29 Print this article Print

The ultimate goal of Cisco’s IT organization is to enable business growth and capabilities that range from faster time to market to identity management.

Rebecca Jacoby, CIO and senior vice president of Cisco Systems, has the ear of company chairman and CEO John Chambers—and vice versa—so much so that she describes the relationship this way: “to anticipate what John wants before he does and have the architecture in place to implement it.”

That’s a tall order, but at Cisco, IT stands tall within the organization, even as the company moves to an unusual committee-based management structure. IT is represented on all 60 committees on the new organization chart, which should help tie Jacoby’s top two initiatives— virtualization and collaboration—to the company’s strategic business goals of asserting leadership across an ever-growing roster of businesses.

What’s more, virtualization and collaboration paid big dividends during the past year of economic peril. Virtualization enabled Cisco to tap into more compute power while holding the line on new equipment, and collaboration technology enabled the company to slice off huge chunks of its travel budget while launching a new management strategy that’s based on the large number of new committees.

According to Jacoby, it would not be possible to successfully implement either virtualization or collaboration technologies without a rigorous architectural approach to IT management that focuses relentlessly on business results, not technology. As she puts it, “I’m the CIO. We’re responsible for delivering systems, not technology.”

Stan Gibson is Executive Editor of eWEEK. In addition to taking part in Ziff Davis eSeminars and taking charge of special editorial projects, his columns and editorials appear regularly in both the print and online editions of eWEEK. He is chairman of eWEEK's Editorial Board, which received the 1999 Jesse H. Neal Award of the American Business Press. In ten years at eWEEK, Gibson has served eWEEK (formerly PC Week) as Executive Editor/eBiz Strategies, Deputy News Editor, Networking Editor, Assignment Editor and Department Editor. His Webcast program, 'Take Down,' appeared on Zcast.tv. He has appeared on many radio and television programs including TechTV, CNBC, PBS, WBZ-Boston, WEVD New York and New England Cable News. Gibson has appeared as keynoter at many conferences, including CAMP Expo, Society for Information Management, and the Technology Managers Forum. A 19-year veteran covering information technology, he was previously News Editor at Communications Week and was Software Editor and Systems Editor at Computerworld.

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