Security, business innovation 'critical': Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins

Security, innovation, executive sponsorship, alignment between IT and business, and IoT strategies are necessary for digital transformation, with the Cisco CEO also providing an update on its partnership with Apple.

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins has outlined the networking giant's strategy for digital transformation, calling cloud-based security at the network layer and business innovation based in technology "critical", along with its own partnerships and acquisitions.

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According to Robbins, what's required for companies, governments, and the enterprise to take part in digital transformation are executive sponsorship; speed, agility, and innovation; IT and line-of-business alignment; pervasive security; and an Internet of Things (IoT) strategy.

"I fundamentally believe that if you are going to really have an effect on the capability of what this technology can do beyond what we do today, it has to start at the top," Robbins said during his keynote speech at Cisco Live Las Vegas on Monday morning.

"Whether we're in a city with a mayor, we're in countries with prime ministers, or in companies like Cisco with CEOs, you have to have sponsorship. You have to have someone who can see what you see, see what's possible, and to see what opportunity might exist.

"We also have been talking for the last few years about IT budgets moving to the lines of business, and I think that while the lines of business may be spending more money on technology, for us to really be successful in the future, IT and the line of business have to come together. We have to be aligned ... there has to be a strategy. What does this technology do? What does it change? How does it change how I think about my business, my business model? Does it change my company from selling a product to selling it as a service?"

Robbins stressed that the most important facets of technology are security and innovation.

"The two things that I think are going to be most important: Number one is security ... and then moving fast in innovating over and over," the chief executive added.

"Regardless, I'm not talking about technology innovation -- business model innovation, challenging the status quo, disrupting yourselves, that's what's going to be required for us to be successful.

"And all of this is going to be driven by technology."

One key element of Cisco's strategy is collaboration, Robbins explained, with acquisitions being "core to our overall innovation story". Cisco has $2.1 billion invested in startups around the world, and it has acquired 190 companies.

Speaking via video link during the keynote, Apple CEO Tim Cook provided an update on what Cisco and Apple have been working towards through their partnership announced last year.

"Last September, we announced a breakthrough partnership with Cisco to make iOS devices work better than any other mobile operating system connected with Cisco technologies. We've been hard at work since that announcement, and I'm very excited to tell you about the new features we're about to deliver for customers of both Apple and Cisco," Cook said.

"Just a few weeks ago, at our Worldwide Developer Conference, we unveiled iOS 10, the biggest iOS update ever. It's packed with great features for business.

"First, we're making iOS devices work better than any other mobile platform on Cisco networks. Together, we've made it simple to configure, and give your employees the best network performance possible. And were delivering a fast lane for business-critical apps, so you can make sure the apps that pop out of your business automatically get top priority on your network. The result is an even better user experience, improved reliability, and better performance for the apps that matter the most.

"Second, with iOS 10, we're also making it easier to make and receive voice and video calls over IP. Now the Cisco Spark app will integrate with iPhone for a first-class calling experience. It's a seamless integration of enterprise collaboration services on the world's best mobile device."

Robbins pointed towards three of Cisco's recent acquisitions -- Jasper, CliQr, and Lancope -- as also being "critically important".

Jasper, a cloud-based IoT platform, has 31 million connected devices, with 1 million more being added per month. CliQr provides tools to simplify and automate apps in private cloud orchestration, and is a critical part of Cisco's orchestration strategy going forward; and Lancope's Stealthwatch learning networks and capabilities about threat information are being integrated into Cisco's network security offerings.

Disclosure: Corinne Reichert travelled to Cisco Live in Las Vegas as a guest of Cisco.

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