I bought this book because Vint Cerf says the Internet will go from 3.5M users today to 3.5B users in 10-15 years, and that means that businesses involved in Internet infrastructure–and especially multi-media multi-lingual narrowcasting–have a growth (or implosion) prospect on the order of 1000X.
The book tells a helpful story about CISCO’s growth in 12 years, and I for one found it both well-written and fascinating. I am especially impressed by the CISCO rules for successful acquisitions, by the CISCO distinctions between core competencies and outsourced manufacturing, and by the CISCO implementation of its enterprise information system and related web sales and service sites.
As for the future, I agree with John Chambers that telephone calls will be free in the future. Arthur Clarke said this 20 years ago. Chambers’ vision for a global multi-service (voice and data) offering that easily integrates wireless, fiber-optic, and other forms of transmission is inevitable, but CISCO is not necessarily pre-ordained as the dominant enterprise.
Corporate and national information strategies must have four components: connectivity, content, coordination of standards and investments, and communications/computing security. CISCO, as described by the book, has a superficial interest in encryption but does not really understand the urgency of establishing “deep encryption” that is embedded in all data (including data in storage) and unencumbered by the retarded US and European policies seeking to give their spies an easy back door to use.
CISCO also appears to be overlooking two major opportunities for future expansion: first, in leading a much broader coordination of standards such as transparent and stable Application Program Interfaces (API) that would permit the remote integration of applications and multi-media data; and second, in exploring all aspects of data classification, indexing, and visualization, both in terms of data access and automated filtering, and in terms of pattern analysis across the network.
There are so many over-hyped books on the Internet Revolution that I found this book to be a real pleasure. Whether for entertainment or for business lessons or for insights into the future, it is a solid 5.