Cisco CEO: We’ll partner in ways we hadn’t thought of before

Chuck Robbins, CEO of Cisco

Chuck Robbins, CEO of Cisco

Over the last decade, the definition of both who Cisco partners with, and how it partners with them has changed dramatically — from the beginning of its push on smart and connected real estate, through to much broader “everything is connected to the network” Internet of Things discussion of today. But according to CEO Chuck Robbins, the company is not yet done on innovating on partnerships.

“We are partnering in ways we haven’t thought of in the past,” Robbins told attendees of the company’s recent Cisco Connect event in Toronto. “We’ve always worked with partners, but we’re going to crate new opportunities by exposing APIs in our products and throughout our portfolio, and giving our partners a chance to program on top of it.”

He also touched on the company’s increasing stance towards working more closely with other technology giants — touching specifically on partnerships with Apple on security and mobility, Microsoft around its Azure cloud stack, and its security partnerships with IBM.

Robbins made the comments as part of a wide-ranging presentation on the company’s position within the industry in changing times — a presentation that may provide a keynote for the chief executive’s comments to partners at its upcoming Partner Summit in Dallas. While Robbins’ keynote presented a rapidly changing market, with an explosion of devices connecting to the Internet, new business models, ever-expanding security threats and more factors driving significant disruption, one thing remains the same, in Cisco’s estimations. And that’s the primacy of the network.

“The network is the only part of the stack that touches everything in your environment,” he told attendees. “It is the common denominator. It is pervasive.”

The continued importance of the network, along with the fact that a majority of organizations have changed viewpoints to see themselves as a technology company, at least in part, means challenges, but also means job security, Robbins told partners and customers in attendance. The relationship is pretty simple.

“The more things we connect, the more opportunities and challenges we create,” he said. “But you have the opportunity, in whatever organization you’re in, to sit at the heart of the strategy, in terms of how you’re going to be successful in the future.”

Robbins’ presentation also touched on the company’s view of Canada, which is, in a word, flattering. In recent years, the company’s Canadian operations have been held up as a leader in its Americas organization and around the world, and Robbins said the country has a lot going with it, starting with “a stable leadership that believes in the power of technology” and an economy that’s performing both well, and consistently.

He also praised the nation for its diversity, noting that one in five Canadian residents were born elsewhere, and its “incredible talent – the most educated country int he world,” as well as it presence in the top five in terms of innovation-driven economies, and the top ten in terms of digital competitiveness around the world.

The company’s emphasis on, and appreciation of, the Canadian market is reflected in its Toronto headquarters doubling as its only North American innovation centre, Robbins said.

“We have one of our nine innovation centres in North America, and it’s here,” he said.

He also added his approval for the Caesar as a drink, earning him a lot of credibility with Canadians.