John Chambers

AGE: 53

WHAT HE'S DOING NOW: CEO of Cisco Systems Inc.

What's been the biggest technology influence on your life? I think the availability of broadband Internet access has been critical in providing major productivity gains for people, companies and countries in ways we historically did not believe were even possible. Networks bring people together to an extent we never imagined, and I believe networks will continue to drive new waves of technology advances.

The U.S. is currently the only G-7 nation that does not have a national broadband access strategy. We need to make broadband access a priority, to put a man on the moon if you will, in order to create a level playing field for future generations to be able to reap the educational benefits Internet applications can provide, and in order for the U.S. to continue to compete on a global basis.

What's the next technology or networking advance likely to change the business landscape? Our day-to-day lives? One of the areas I believe will have the greatest impact on both businesses and people, in terms of productivity and profitability increases, as well as educational opportunities, is e-learning. Last year alone, Cisco achieved more than $130 million in productivity savings through use of e-learning across our organization and with our partners. E-learning will have a dramatic impact on training, communications and operational performance for businesses, which we believe has a direct correlation to improved profitability and growth.

In terms of people, I truly believe that education and the Internet are the two great equalizers in life. Together, they will provide future generations of workers greater opportunities. E-learning will play a big part in providing global access to educational opportunities over networks that were previously not possible, ultimately creating a greater standard of living.

How will IT leadership change in the next 10 years? Which companies will be the big winners in the next decade? Cisco's vision, which we have already started to execute on, is that the company CEO and CIO must form a true working partnership to achieve the productivity, profitability and visionary goals companies need in order to survive -- and thrive -- in the future. It is crucial for the CEO and CIO to work together to align technology goals to the company strategy, not just for greater internal company success, but to stay ahead of the competition, to be innovators within their own industries, and to ensure global access to information. Companies who employ this ideal and continue to focus on using networking technology to achieve greater productivity and profitability will be the true winners in the decades to come.

What kind of role will computers and networks play in business 10 years from now? I think as you see the adoption of e-learning applications pervade our schools and businesses, our computers and the network will become an even greater central focus. Internet business applications will continue to advance the productivity of companies, providing them with even greater profitability and time savings. And e-learning solutions will broaden the opportunities available to students, ultimately providing better future opportunities.

How will we interact with technology in the future? Technology, by its nature, evolves over time, and I think you'll see people interacting with technology at a much greater rate in their daily lives, using the Cisco Internet Home as an example. The average person will use the network for everyday tasks, such as remotely controlling home appliances and systems, and for entertainment purposes, such as downloading favorite movies, concerts, etc., over the network, right to your television. But the success of these types of everyday applications, which will ultimately save users time and money, depends on the ability to drive broadband Internet access to every American.

What technology will have the greatest impact? The technology that will ultimately have a true impact, in my opinion, is the Human Genome Project. The ability to map the human genome, which is really the genetic blueprint for all humans, will have an enormous global impact, both now and for future generations, especially in terms of disease treatment and prevention.


Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

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