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This syndicated post originally appeared at No Jitter - Recent posts by Zeus Kerravala.

If Cisco executes on what Chambers talked about, the company will be a much leaner, focused execution machine.

Cisco Live! kicked off on the morning of July 12 in Las Vegas. Obviously with all the controversy and speculation surrounding Cisco over the past year, all eyes were on the Chambers keynote to get some idea of what the “new Cisco” looks like. Overall, I thought Chambers did a good job of outlining the direction of Cisco but I did think there were some open questions that still lingered.

From an overall corporate standpoint, Chambers stated that the next generation of Cisco has three main corporate priorities. They are:

* Deepening customer relationships
* Faster innovation
* Simplified operations

These all make sense, but Chambers summed up what this means to Cisco nicely by saying that “the speed of decision is the number one thing I want to see improved”. This is a curious statement since the “boards and councils” model of running Cisco was supposed to be the thing that sped up decision making. From my conversations with Cisco leaders over the past year or so, it appears that the boards and councils approach ran its course and now it’s time for a change.

So that brings me to unfulfilled question #1–If the current management model isn’t creating fast enough decisions, what’s changing to speed up the process? This wasn’t clear to me at all when the keynote ended but I did have the opportunity to talk to Cisco COO Gary Moore afterwards, and I asked him the question. It appears that Cisco will be using a combination of top-down and boards and councils to drive next generation Cisco.

Cisco will maintain three councils: enterprise, service providers and emerging markets. Each council will be co-run by two people and these two will be accountable for the success of each. From what I understand, Cisco will amp up the level of accountability for the council leaders and other executives at Cisco. Will this speed up the decision-making? Only time will tell, but the bureaucracy that was caused by the old model will be gone, so it should have the desired effect.

The next area that Chambers discussed that left some open questions was around product strategy. He outlined the top 5 areas for Cisco:

* Leadership in the core. This was defined as routing, switching, services, security and mobility
* Collaboration
* Data center/virtualization and cloud
* Video
* Architectures

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Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.

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