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Monday, May 14, 2012

Cisco and Shifting Paradigms

The two gentlemen were already in the elevator when I got in. The third floor button was lit up so I stepped back and relaxed. One of them said "you want the third floor?" I said yes. He remarked "that's amazing." I said "Not really, there was a 25% chance (the hotel had four floors) I'd be on the third floor." Now for you game theorists and math majors you'll know that my percentage was way off and that the probability of events like this is never very intuitive. The first floor should never have counted because no one uses the elevator. So assuming that, we are now one in three or a 33% chance.  But how many folks on the second floor take the elevator? So, what appeared to me to be easy math was actually a significant miscalculation.

How many of these calculations do we do every day? If the paradigm we live in is transparent, hopefully few. Having the sense to know we need to look at things differently started in that elevator ride and continued during my visit in the Dallas area. We are simply not going to build networks the same way we have done in the past. Talking to some content and cable providers there, it seems that the networks being built by these guys are showing us it can be done differently today and that new paradigms are, indeed, possible. Look around and see how many networking companies are still in the market today, have strong portfolios, and have not fallen into the traps of yesteryear. Very few. Those companies that have continued to shift and adjust, fallen and gotten up, and jumped back to work are still here today. Cisco is one of those companies. And, although I rarely comment on stock value, Cisco is likely worth much more than the probability assigned it today. As paradigms shifted, so have they.  

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