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Ex-Cisco CEO reflects, looks ahead on 25 years of Networkers

Jim Duffy | May 20, 2014
Chairman Emeritus John Morgridge knew company would be big, says evolution is key

What are Cisco's most pressing challenges today?
I think the most pressing challenge is and it's really not a question I should answer, you should ask MR. Chambers but the environment is in transition. How and what Cisco's role is going to be relative to the cloud and how that'll play out, I think that's an issue. But as I say, that's probably a Chambers question, not a Morgridge question.

You've been big on culture and how it helps to drive a company. How has that changed over 25 years, or has it?
It's changed for two reasons: one, the company is much bigger. And number two, the company is much more international. Both of those are factors in trying to maintain and continuing to evolve a positive culture. I noticed this week I can't remember the publication (an article) on the importance of culture in the long term success and profitability of the company. Certainly, the culture has evolved but has it remained strong to the degree that it, as it created the company to remain a very competitive entity, even as the foundational structure underneath in the industry has changed.

Did you foresee the Internet becoming what it is today? Or the application of it in things like social networking and the role it's played to date in things such as political upheaval?
I can't say that I did. I spent my whole career in the technology business and I was convinced of the importance, at a grand scale, of the development of global connectivity. I probably never thought of it in terms of the myriad devices that have become part of it. And the evolution and importance of things like videoconferencing, and the whole iPhone, tablet phenomenon. I knew very early on that we were going to be a big company because there was so much latent demand in building out the infrastructure. And I also believed in the later part of the company history that devices of all types, and the development of specialized devices and applications, would be a big part of what the environment looked like. I had no idea that social networking would be a prominent as it is today. And it's important to understand what that phenomenon is. If you text someone you get an immediate response; if you e-mail them, you probably never hear from them.

We're going to see a lot more use of video kind of capabilities. And there are a lot of lagging pursuits, or a lot of lagging industries that are just starting to embrace it. Healthcare being one. And the other is education. I think that'll play out over the next three to five years.  


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