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"With the power of the Internet, impossible is within our grasp"

It is a new decade with great expectations. But I think these expectations may be pretty conservative, because these expectations are based on incremental improvements, small steps at a time.

John Chambers | Print Edition: April 18, 2010

It is a new decade with great expectations. But I think these expectations may be pretty conservative, because these expectations are based on incremental improvements, small steps at a time. In terms of globalisation, I think it is a force that is inevitable; it is going to move with a new speed, we had called it the new normal. I think India is very uniquely positioned to lead in that market if we have the courage to do it together.

I am talking about how you raise productivity, not at 1 or 2 per cent a year that the economists would say is the maximum you can drive it, but much like it occurred between 1997 and 2004 with the fast pace of the Internet, that's 3 to 5 per cent. How do you take this strategy and economic policies so that it will be the new normal, not the exception? How do you connect to these communities with urbanisation in the future when 500 million people in the next five years are to be relocated to the cities? How do you take your virtual cities and not only create the education and healthcare infrastructure there but the jobs to go with it?

With the power of the Internet, it is within our grasp to do what everybody would say would be impossible. For a dollar per month per student, enable every student in India to have a competitive education. Not by doing what developed countries have done. Skip a generation, deliver it virtually, get people trained to manage the class with video. How do you deliver this remotely to every citizen for perhaps one dollar per student? How do you get the doctor with specialty in brain tumours, or specialty in cancers, and how do you automatically bring the patients straight to them and how do you capture the data in the video?

Two years ago, we went to Duke University and we showed what telepresence could do. A year later, they said, "We are going to be virtual university. We are going to enable our students with this technology, we are going to completely change the way we interface." During the professor's lectures the formatting follows the camera around, so you could have two locations or 300 (and one of the locations is in India.) We have already done this and if you want to see it, come to Bangalore and watch what we are doing. I'd say let's set an unreasonable goal of one dollar per month for education. But if you don't build up your national broadband, it won't work.

The future of this country, I would argue, is about how effective your broadband infrastructure is. Do you build up the best highways in the world for the future of all your citizens? And do you catch this transition around video? When I walk out of this meeting today, I will give a summary to my entire team right here in India on the commitments that I made; we have to play it back in high definition response time, log it into the network, send it by e-mail anywhere in the world, transmit that to any screen anywhere. Think about what I just said. That is how businesses will be run, it is how we are going to communicate with our families, give directions, it's how you are going to push the common issues in terms of common interest to the groups that are needed.

A lot of it will revolve around devices, first on physical capability and then the virtual capability. New business or organisational structures don't model the education system on the past 40 years, but on the next 40. You have to create the highways for them to do that.

John Chambers, Chairman & CEO, CISCO

(Based on Chambers' speech at the Conclave. Exclusive interview with Chambers will appear in our next issue)

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