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I would not change commitment to India, says Cisco Chairman John Chambers

The Economics Times:  January 02, 2015

John Chambers, chairman and chief executive officer of Cisco Systems, is at a critical moment in his long career in Cisco. He is on the verge of retirement, but Cisco has been going through a turbulent period in the last few years. From an Indian point of view, his strataegy in the country had not gone according to plan.

Chambers has bet on a few new businesses, and nothing is more critical than the Internet of Things. On the sidelines of a conference at San Jose, Chambers met a small group of Asian and Latin American journalists. Eidted excerpts.

How will the Internet of Things change people's lives?

The Internet of Things will change not just a country or company, but will change every person's life. Almost 15 years ago, we said there would be 7-10 internet devices in every person's body. You will be able to connect from every location. You could bring the best education, healthcare, diagnosis and treatment plans anywhere in the world.

One of the major hurdles for the Internet of Things is privacy. What are your views?

The answer might surprise you, as I am closer to the European view than the American view of data privacy to individuals. There is a certain amount of healthcare data that I have no problem sharing. There are other kinds of data that I want my doctor and other key people to know. I don't have a problem with tracking what I am buying as a consumer. I believe in working with the government to achieve very legitimate concerns as citizens and as countries. We can do with privacy beyond taking the rules of the road, and use a more sophisticated way to decide what is being shared.

Can government oversight impact the future of Internet of Things?

Absolutely. And there is a fine line. I think governments have certain legitimate requirements in terms of commitments to citizens, requirements of privacy and so on. However, the tough part is that when governments start to regulate based on the mentality of the old world.

How do you see trends in advance?

It is a combination of things. I came out of West Virginia, and both my parents were doctors. My mother taught me the Emotional Quotient and my dad, whowas also a good business person, taught me to think five or ten or 15 years out. And you are also a product of your mistakes as much as your successes. I saw what happened to IBM when they didn't see what was occurring. We knew the issues, but the company just didn't want to listen.

You have made big investments in India. If you had a chance to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

I would not change my commitment at all to India. I would not change at all my doubling down now. I would probably have been more interactive with the government, and it took a new leadership for that to occur. I pushed pretty hard, but I wish I had pushed harder for the transition to occur from a hardware company to a software company.

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.