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Go digital or go home, and other thoughts from CISCO’s John Chambers

Go digital or go home, and other thoughts from CISCO’s John Chambers

John Chambers knows a thing or two about disruption and upheaval. As former CEO of Cisco Systems from 1995 to 2015, he led the company during tumultuous times—including the market drop in 2002 when the company lost more than $450 billion, as well as Cisco’s less than successful acquisition of the Flip video camera line in 2009. Yet Chambers, now Executive Chairman of the Board at Cisco Systems, maintains there is no success without disruption, particularly when it comes to the digitization of the world around us. In essence, go digital or go home.

“The world will go digital: It will transform health care, enable people to live longer, and be a huge disruption to society. Either you disrupt or you get left behind,” said Chambers in a campus talk as part of the MIT Sloan 2017 iLead series. Chamber cautions further that the U.S. could lose some of its economic power if it doesn’t beef up its digitization plan. “There’s no entitlement just because we led before.”

Recent research by McKinsey & Co. concurs, reporting that while 90% of companies say they are engaged in some form of digitization, only 16% say they are taking a bold stance. The study also shows that the window of opportunity to put the right digital strategy in place is still open, but not for long.

Hear more insights from Chambers in this recording of his talk with Hal Gregersen, MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer and Executive Director of the MIT Leadership Center.

If you’re ready to bring your organization up to speed, learn more about MIT Sloan’s Executive Education programs focused on digital transformation, including Revitalizing Your Digital Business Model, Platform Strategy: Building and Thriving in a Vibrant Ecosystem, and the new online, self-paced course, Internet of Things: Business Implications and Opportunities.


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