“We will continue to do acquisitions,” says Susie Wee, Cisco’s vice president and chief technology officer.
“We will continue to do acquisitions,” says Susie Wee, Cisco’s vice president and chief technology officer.

Cisco execs defend tech giant's approach of innovating through acquisitions

Tech July 09, 2017 14:44

By Kittipong Thavevong
The sunday Nation
Las Vegas, United States

3,754 Viewed

Executives at Cisco Systems have defended the US tech giant's strategy of innovating through acquisitions while maintaining that they are actually developing innovations through the company's army of many thousands of engineers.

Cisco people are innovating all the time, said Susie Wee, vice president and chief technology officer for networked experiences.

She said that thanks to the hundreds of Cisco engineers in many fields, the company has managed to constantly come up with new ideas that become workable innovations.

The executive admitted that We will continue to do acquisitionsî but that it was a policy of the companyís management to also focus on developing innovations of their own, and not merely buy start-ups with potential.

David Ward, Cisco's senior vice president, chief architect and chief technology officer of engineering, said that the company has no culture of advertising campaigns boasting its innovations, unlike some other tech firms. 

He admitted that Cisco might not be able to describe itself as the ìmost innovative company but that it has been a leader in multiple industry areas which he said was very difficult to achieve.

Wee and Ward were speaking at a panel discussion on The Great Debate: Develop or Acquire Innovation? held as part of the Cisco Live 2017 event at the Mandalay Bay Convention Centre in Las Vegas.

In fact, Cisco encourages its own start-ups internally and incubates new firms under its umbrella, says Kate OKeeffe, managing director of Cisco Hyper-innovation Living Labs, or CHILL. The unit encourages co-innovation and brings together teams from multiple non-competing customers and partners to develop solutions for a single common issue. 

Maciej Kranz, vice president for corporate strategic innovation, said that in addition to acquisitions, Cisco is growing through co-innovating with its customers and partnership with firms like Apple.

Executives who have joined Cisco after their businesses were bought by the firm pointed to the benefits and disadvantages of getting acquired and working at a giant tech firm.

Matt Cutler, director of product management who previously ran a start-up that was acquired by Cisco, said at the panel discussion that working with Cisco provided a ìmuch bigger and faster prospect than on your ownî. He added that all his frustrations as a start-up executive disappeared after joining the tech giant.

Macario Namie, head of the Internet of Things strategy whose previous company, Jasper, was acquired by Cisco last year, said that he now had a good chance of achieving success for what he believes is ìat an ordinary scaleî. 

However, he also pointed to a disadvantage ñ which he preferred to call a ìchallengeî ñ of working with a large firm like Cisco. He said it involved the slow decision-making process, a result of having to convince different levels of bosses when coming up with new ideas. It was time-consuming just getting a decision.