Smith CIO Forum Unites IT Leaders & Researchers
Attendees from the CIO Forum and InForum,
a concurrently held event for MBA students,
heard about the transforming power technology
can have on business processes in a keynote
speech by John Morgridge, chairman of Cisco
Dean Howard Frank, in introducing Morgridge,
noted that Cisco took complex, expensive technology
and turned it into low-cost, easy-to-roll-out
technology. Morgridge reflected on the journey
to get to that point.
“Cisco Systems was initially a one-product
company,” said Morgridge. “It was a major step
to get our engineers to go downscale, to take
away features in order to drive down the cost.”
Once they did, Cisco had two products—a large
router and a small router. From this modest
beginning, Cisco has grown to become a giant
in the industry, with almost 35,000 employees
and a run-rate of $22 billion.
Morgridge is an enthusiastic evangelist for
the benefits of online technologies. Cisco takes
pride in using all the equipment they sell,
right down to the recent addition of 55,000
IP phones. Cisco is not only a top provider
of Internet technology but also an example of
how those technologies can provide a significant
competitive advantage to companies.
Cisco first made a major investment in customer
support, not, Morgridge said, in marketing.
Online tech support made Cisco’s customers happy
while saving money for the company: customers
no longer had to endure lengthy waits on the
phone for human assistance, and Cisco was able
to reduce the manpower needed for effective
customer support. Self-service tech support
also ensured that the quality of service was
the same worldwide, no matter when or from where
a customer called. Now 90% of Cisco product
orders are done online as well, resulting in
cost reductions, time savings and improved accuracy.
Today Cisco also manages its supply chain
online, going so far as to make its suppliers
meet a certain network standard before it can
sell to Cisco. Having employee information online,
from regulations to benefits, saves time and
money as well.
Cisco also profits from the mobility of online
technologies. Installing high-speed Internet
access in employees’ homes, for example, has
led to an increase in productivity, putting
Cisco employees just moments away from their
virtual desks at any time of the day or night.
“With these online systems, we’ve convinced
our employees to work 24/7,” said Morgridge.
“That makes me smile.”
Richard T.C. LeFave, senior vice president
and chief information officer for Nextel Communications
in Reston, Virginia, also addressed participants
at the CIO Forum. LeFave is responsible for
the strategic deployment of information technology
(IT) resources throughout Nextel and talked
about the future of mobility.