As stated on its website, Cisco Systems, Inc. is the worldwide leader in networking for the Internet. Cisco hardware, software, and service offerings are used to create Internet solutions that allow individuals, companies, and countries to increase productivity, improve customer satisfaction and strengthen competitive advantage. The Cisco name has become synonymous with the Internet, as well as with the productivity improvements that Internet business solutions provide. Cisco Systems vision statement claims that their vision "is to change the way people work, live, play and learn." Source from website < http://newsroom.cisco.com/dlls/company_overview.html>)
Stanford University Computer Scientists Sandy Lerner and Leonard Bosack founded Cisco Systems. There was a genuine need for large scale computer networks based on industry standard technologies and while in college, they found that the inefficiencies of the current infrastructure led to great technical hitches in being compatible with the numerous mail clients. This inspiration served as a spark that set their ideas in motion and when they left the campus, they were ready to embark upon the operation.
Surprisingly, its stupendous growth was the harbinger of its problems. Cisco grew rapidly and to cater to the company and product information distribution, launched an official website in 1991. It had a 50% share of the networking market and struggled to keep up with the calls it was receiving. By 1992, its market share was 85% and the customer service requests and training programs were severely straining its existing systems that were not built for these volumes. By 1993, Cisco boasted a growth of an astounding 270% growth, but its IT department was sorely lacking to cope with a half billion-dollar company growing by 50% each year. Unable to sustain, its customer service was not up to the standards desired and Cisco was losing its ratings. Its IT budget was a paltry 0.75% of sales that was way below industry standards.
CIO Pete Slovik and Senior Executive, Doug Allred, brought a revolutionary concept that entailed that the IT spending was linked to the business units that in turn necessitated close alignment to the company goals. The managers of the business units would be required to independently take decisions about the investment required to reach the company targets and the level of customer satisfaction.
Cisco's internal network would play a strategic role in providing the connectivity needed for the business units to build applications creatively and therefore this would require a thorough revamp of its internal infrastructure. Because it was a major decision that would cost millions, cash-strapped Cisco deliberated over the decision. Small technical difficulties kept occurring and in 1994, Cisco's systems broke down unable to cope and Cisco was forced to close down for two days.
The board went ahead and approved the proposal for a $15 million Oracle ERP system. This would entail a 2.5 percent of the 1993 revenues, thrice the IT budget of the previous year. The total cost of completing the ERP was $100million. It is not an overstatement to say that the Oracle ERP system became the backbone of the Cisco E-Business. It unified all of the Unix Servers and became a source of centralized information.