Cisco’s giant customer conference, Cisco Live, began Monday in San Diego and was the last time outgoing CEO John Chambers would impart his vision in a keynote speech.
And was it ever a speech, filled with fire-and-brimstone predictions.
The upshot: Chambers, Cisco’s CEO of 20 years, says more than one-third of businesses today will not survive the next 10 years. The only ones that will survive will turn their companies into digital, techie versions of themselves, and many of will fail trying.
“Forty percent of businesses in this room, unfortunately, will not exist in a meaningful way in 10 years,” he told the 25,000 attendees, adding that 70% of companies would “attempt” to go digital but only 30% of those would succeed.
“If I’m not making you sweat, I should be,” he said.
“It will become a digital world that will change our life, our health, our education, our business models at the pace of a technology company change,” Chambers said. He warned companies that they could not “miss a market transition or a business model” or “underestimate your competitor of the future — not your competitor of the past.”
“Either we disrupt or we get disrupted,” he said.
Startups want to upturn every existing business, including taxis (Uber), hotels (Airbnb), and banking, Chambers said.
He quoted JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon’s annual letter to shareholders, in which Dimon warned that “Silicon Valley is coming.” Dimon meant that startups were creating new banking apps for everything from loans to payments.