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New Cisco CEO outlines post-Chambers vision

In a question and answer session with his predecessor, incoming Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins has outlined his vision for Cisco in the post-John Chambers era.

Incoming Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins has pledged to not let the company's customers and vendors down as he takes the helm of the networking giant.

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Chuck Robbins (Image: Cisco)

After 20 years in the top job, Cisco CEO John Chambers announced in May that he would end his tenure in July, with Chuck Robbins, Cisco's SVP of worldwide field operations, taking the helm effective July 26.

After a gruelling 16-month recruitment process, Chambers is glowing with praise for Robbins. in a fireside chat at Cisco Live in San Diego on Monday.

Robbins said the lengthy process was "an incredible opportunity" to meet board members and gave him time to think about what he wanted for the job, and his newly-appointed leadership team.

He said that the strategy developed by Chambers "was working" but said that under his leadership Cisco would focus on what customers will be seeking in three years' time, rather than just on the solid revenue generators such as the company's enterprise and public sector businesses.

"I think it was in my second interview, [the board] said 'We want to know how you will be different from John'," he said.

"I think about what we really need to do. If we really think about it, all of us what we have ahead of us over the next decade, considering the last two decades of what we've seen, the next two decades are going to provide us greater opportunities together than we've ever seen."

Robbins said the company needed to prioritise its activities, and simplify its offering.

"What we do is very complex, we have to simplify it because we need to clearly articulate it and we at Cisco need to clearly articulate internal, and external exactly what it is we need to do and help you and our team to move more quickly together."

He said Chambers said any major decision Robbins would have to live with as CEO. Robbins said that his focus would be on making the networking giant move quickly to adapt.

"I think it is so important for us to create a culture of moving quickly, a culture of transparency, and a culture of authenticity, so we need to move pretty quickly once we know where we need to be," he said.

"We want to send a message that we have to move fast on all fronts."

He said Cisco needed an intrinsic understanding of the business of its customers, and said prioritisation of services would be the company's biggest challenge in the next three years.

"We're going to continue to reinvent our company and our organisation, and our processes to enable us to move more quickly with all of you," he said.

"I think if I look three years, four years, five years, I believe our opportunity is bigger than what we've seen so far. So what I like to believe is in three to five years, we're on the way to [customers] believing that we're the one partner that can help you drive your digital strategy."

Josh Taylor travelled to San Diego as a guest of Cisco.

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