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MIT Sloan Management Review: Can you tell me what you do at Cisco?
James Macaulay: My title is senior director with the Cisco Digitization Office [CDO]. I wear another hat, which is as a visiting scholar with a research institute we’ve established, the Global Center for Digital Business Transformation. We call it the DBT Center for short.
I’m working within Cisco to drive our company’s transformation, but the purpose of the research institute is to understand what’s next in digital business, to engage with a large number of customers and other stakeholders, and then to bring the insights from that engagement and that original research back into Cisco. This informs our own transformation journey and also cascades back to our employee base, our partner ecosystem, and our customers what the best practices and the next practices are.
Let’s start there. What’s next? What are the trends you see in the marketplace that are capturing your attention and your interest now?
Our focus, or the prism through which we are looking at digital business and the issue of transformation, really begins with digital disruption itself. We found that there is not a clear understanding for most organizations about what digital disruption actually is, how it occurs, why it happens, how disruptive competitors create the market changes that they do, and how they move so quickly.
We’re focused on the changes in competitive dynamics. We’re using the way that markets are changing as a point of departure for new research and engagement around transformation. We feel you really can’t be prescriptive about the transformation road map for any company, including Cisco, unless you really understand their customers and the challenges it’s facing and the competitive dynamics that are shaping, and that will shape, the decisions that go into that transformation road map downstream. Digital digitization is kind of a cross-cutting, or meta-trend, that we’re very focused on.
Have you identified a couple of hallmarks that you see as some of the key features with respect to the competitive dynamics that are being changed as a result of digital, or what are the vulnerabilities and struggles that companies face?
Our academic partner at the center is the International Institute for Management Development [IMD] in Switzerland. We are the coowners of this research institute, and resources from both Cisco and IMD work actively on these issues.