James Governor's Monkchips

Cisco as a “consumer” company

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You guys know I hate the “consumer electronics” term. But I like companies that understand the boundaries between enterprise and consumer are breaking down. its good that Cisco sees the disruption, but it doesn’t seem to have fully understood that we’re all creators now.

Dan Scheinman is SVP and GM, Cisco Media Solutions Group. He said Cisco’s opportunity is in the consumer disruption. He talked to Cisco’s delivery network and endpoint delivery business (Scientific Atlanta).

He said “all media will be digital”, and “Cisco can create a world where content comes to you”, positioning the “consumerisation of IT” as the big fourth wave, after mainframe-mini, client-server, web. Evidently Dan has been talking to Gartner.

Cisco has made some clear moves in this space, notably acquisitions which have led to it running online communities such as National Hockey League and NASCAR.

“The National Hockey League- a community for men. then they discovered 35% of the audience was woman. So they went to Christie Brinkly, a “successful” supermodel as a blog, but there were pictures of her at an islander goal. now 15% of the people at NHL.com know Christie, and she has an audience there.

NASCAR – “community button”. top 50 web properties.

i asked Dan about Cisco’s understanding of “consumer” – given my take that we’re all creators now – anyone that has a flickr, picasa, myspace or facebook account, in my book, is creating something, not consuming it. He is evidently working from the numbers that show in most networks there are a few content creators, with more commenters, and some passive consumers. But to say there will be “very few creators” just seems plain wrong to me, and to Chris Anderson of Long Tail economic theory: The Ants Have Megaphones.

If Cisco thinks it can just work with Big Media companies, rather than fostering community-created content, its missing a huge part of the future. IBM makes the same mistake. Its about the shackles of success. Technology companies have no choice but to compete with media companies, and vice-versa.

Dan is willing to criticise Big Media, talking about the fact that media companies had spent the last ten years suing their customers, but it would be good to see Cisco really double down on disruption.

All that said, these arguments are based on a formal pitch and one question in the group Q&A. But it does seem for now Dan is underestimating your creativity, and desire to make and share things. An update may be necessary going forward.


disclosure: IBM and Cisco are clients.

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