Cisco Systems, Inc.: Collaborating on New Product Introduction

12055 words 49 pages
DATE: 06/05/09

On November 13, 2007, more than 100 employees of Cisco Systems, Inc. assembled in classic
Cisco fashion: they dialed in from multiple locations around the world for an important meeting.
The purpose of the gathering was to get the green light from senior management to manufacture a new high-end router that would make the giant networking company more competitive in an age of surging Internet traffic.1
The project’s code name, Viking, said it all. The router for broadband service providers would break ground in power and speed, reminiscent of the Norse warriors and explorers of Europe during the eighth to eleventh centuries. The meeting
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But Foxconn had never made such a complex product for Cisco. Could
Foxconn handle the technical complexity while producing the router from Day One in China?
Could Cisco find ways to engage closely with Foxconn and mitigate the risks? Finally, Viking would test Cisco’s well-honed new product introduction, or NPI, expertise. The project would require tremendous global collaboration among far-flung teams within Cisco, and close coordination with Foxconn’s manufacturing site half a world away from Cisco’s San Jose headquarters and labs.
Company Background
Cisco was a classic Silicon Valley story of success, rising from geeky start-up to world-class corporation. The company was founded in 1984 by Len Bosack and Sandy Lerner, a husbandwife duo of Stanford University computer specialists who experimented with networking different buildings on campus. Their work led to the creation of the “multi-protocol” router that enabled disparate computer networks to talk to each other, in much the same way as different telephone networks were linked. 2,3
The company became the leader in selling networking gear to corporations; it quickly expanded into sales to telecommunications and broadband service providers and, later, to consumers. In the 1990s, Cisco emerged as a leader in networking technology for the Internet age, respected for both its technology and management practices. At the helm was John T. Chambers, who


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