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Cisco's display of strength

November 1, 2007 | Chris Payatagool
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Cisco fell hard, went through a wrenching period of reinvention, and is now stronger than it has ever been, reports Fortune's Rik Kirkland in an important and in-depth look at Cisco and their strategy around Cisco 3.0 including some Telepresence nuggets: Verizon, AFLAC, McKesson, BT, and SAP are new customers and P&G is deploying 40 rooms!

(Fortune Magazine) -- Sipping Diet Coke in a suite at New York's Mandarin Oriental hotel after a day that began with a joint interview with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer conducted by PBS's Charlie Rose, followed by a quick march through a luncheon speech, some one-on-ones with the trade press, and a dozen customer meetings, John Chambers doesn't look or act the way you or I would - exhausted.

As the shadows lengthen over the Hudson River, Cisco's ever ebullient 58-year-old CEO is just getting warmed up. "This is the most excited I've been in ten years," he'd said earlier during his taping with Charlie and Steve. Now in his soft, 90-mph drawl he's explaining why: "I believe a new wave of innovation is coming that will make the first wave of the Internet seem small."

My, that does sound exciting. Example? "This will shock you," he says, leaning forward. "The other day I started the morning with my top staff in India. Then I went to Japan and a meeting with Fujitsu, then on to Cleveland, then London and a meeting with BT. The whole trip took only 3 1/2 hours, and I was far more effective in the calls."

The reason: Chambers was traveling, of course, over Cisco's latest gee-whiz product: telepresence, a high-def, life-sized, Internet-based communications system that is to traditional video-conferencing what the latest big-screen surround-sound plasma extravaganza would be to Grandma's black-and-white set with rabbit ears. "When I asked the team to design this," he recalls, "I said, 'Make it like Star Trek. You know, Beam me up, Scotty.'"

[via CNNMoney]

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