NEW YORK (AP) — Cisco Systems Inc. isn't content to be the world's largest maker of computer networking gear. It says it wants to become the "No. 1" supplier of information technology to big businesses by broadening its offerings of services and software.
But when Cisco says "No. 1 IT company," it doesn't mean that it's going to be the biggest-selling company. That goal is out of reach, as IBM Corp.'s revenue is twice that of Cisco.
Rather, Cisco CEO John Chambers says he wants the company to loom largest in the minds of its customers and to be the one setting the pace in the industry. Being No. 1, he says, means having the best customer satisfaction and the best profit margins for products.
The strategy statement, articulated Friday at a presentation for Wall Street analysts, follows some lean years that have seen Cisco retrench from even broader goals, which included trying to establish itself as a consumer brand and buying a maker of camcorders. The new direction will be supported by a global advertising campaign with the slogan "Tomorrow starts here." The ad campaign starts Monday.
"The play sounds a lot like the IBM story," Raymond James analyst Simon Leopold said. After the maker of mainframe computers struggled in the 1980s with the rise of cheap microprocessors and rapid changes in the industry, IBM successfully transformed itself into a company that combined consulting services, software and hardware.
For Cisco, the new playbook comes as Chambers, who is 63 and one of the longest-serving CEOs in Silicon Valley, is nearing retirement and looking to hand over to a successor in two to four years. There are two chief candidates, who appeared with Chambers on Friday: Rob Lloyd, the head of sales and product development, and Gary Moore, the chief operating officer.
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