This week Facebook announced that it had created a new kind of computer networking switch, threatening the market control, and profit margins, of companies like Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Arista Networks. One of my colleagues commented on this event on LinkedIn, stating that this is the “wrong time to be the Cisco Rep on Facebook.” My initial reaction was agreement and then I began to think about the necessary conversations that need to take place as Cisco & others navigate this challenging circumstance. The obvious question is “why”? Some of you may respond w/, “are you really that stupid.. Isn’t it obvious.. Facebook spends a small fortune buying, maintaining and refreshing these devices – annually. Their technologists are world class and very capable of developing compelling products to support their infrastructure – so why not!”
Well, for starters, several manufacturers already produce capable devices at a far lower price point than Cisco – so my assumption is that the objective is not just cost.. this may be stating the obvious but why wouldn’t Facebook’s switching suppliers have an understanding of their vision and the gaps existing in their current portfolio? Hindsight is 20/20 so this is probably not fair; however, the conversation is upon us.
Here’s my point – Why has Facebook entered the switch business? What is their objective? What impact have they estimated as a return? When do they plan to reach that outcome? The answers are not obvious and on top of that, different stakeholders will have different motivation. This is the Reps JOB!: To identify the business imperative for Facebook and whether this initiative is congruent. This is where the opportunity lives and it will take a series of tough conversations to surface the truth to capitalize on the announcement.
Click here to read the New York Times article referenced in this post.
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