John Chambers, Cisco’s chairman and CEO, shared his thoughts on the potential role technology can play in the economic future of developing countries, during the closing keynote for the Technology In Emerging Countries program that was part of International CES.
Chambers, who is lauded for his and Cisco’s work to improve the situation of people in various developing countries through a variety of large-scale philanthropic efforts, said that he thinks technology has the potential to provide an equal playing field for developed and developing companies going forward.
During his speech, he highlighted the various elements he considers to be “pillars of national competitiveness.” He said education, infrastructure, innovation and the ability to identify market transitions, a supportive government and collaboration are all key parts of what makes it possible for certain countries to grow faster than others and, in turn, to prosper.
Chambers said that leadership in technology is important for a number of reasons. In particular, he said it drives economic growth, job creation and productivity. He also said it had the potential to affect healthcare as well as an area’s standard of living and global competitiveness.
The key is for interested parties to focus on ideas that provide both “scale and sustainability.” He said that, despite what many may think, “execution always beats innovation,” and having a “disciplined approach” to executing ideas both in the short and long term would be the best path to success. “The best of the world would do both,” he added.
Chambers used his own company as an example of an entity that had successfully approached the market. He stressed “speed and sustainability” and explained Cisco had over the past decade found a way to pinpoint market transitions and to strategize a way to tap into those transitions with differentiated products that would help it to maintain its lead in the long term. His company’s move to cater to the consumer market, which began in 2000, was his prime example.
“It is the ability to catch these transitions [in the future] that will determine which country or company will break away [from the rest],” said Chambers.