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Giancarlo at VoiceCon

Watching it again, nine months later, a few random impressions:

* His keynote was heavy on Web 2.0/Consumerization of IT. He also made a point of suggesting new names for VoiceCon that emphasize "communications" rather than just "voice."

* The part about "Unique Personas Blending" hit home because right at this moment I'm blogging while making pancakes while SpongeBob plays in the background.

* A key message, "The Network as the Platform," is probably one you won't be hearing from Giancarlo in his new role.

* I think my general feeling at the time about the message that Cisco was stressing openness, mashups and the like was pretty much, "Sure, sure...." But the rest of 2007 pretty much showed that this is the way of the future. The classic example of this is Facebook. If you look at how Facebook transformed itself from a website to a web-based platform ("Facebook as the Internet," in Irwin Lazar's phrase), you can see the potential. It so happened that a week after Giancarlo's VoiceCon speech, Cisco announced its acquisition of WebEx. I don't think Cisco knew things were going to play out this way over the second half of 2007, but like any smart technology company, they saw emerging trends, talked the talked and kept their options open.

We're moving away from a paradigm where Cisco can hope to own the desktop interface of the future, the way they own the telephone interface today. In a way, it's terrible timing for Cisco--just as they climb to the top of the market, the market starts to look like it's moving to a new model, one that favors other powerful vendors (i.e., Microsoft and IBM). Relatively few enterprises are going to use a Cisco UC client instead of Outlook or Notes.

On the other hand, maybe they're not going to be using Outlook or Notes, but some Web-based application, which puts Cisco back in the driver's seat. In the meantime, what people are buying and installing right now is IP-PBXs and IP telephones. Which is also very good for Cisco.