Cisco chief executive’s mantra: Simplify computer networks

Over more than three decades, Cisco Systems became a Silicon Valley giant partly because of one facet of its business: technological complexity.

Managing Cisco’s many varieties of networking equipment, which help computers exchange data, became such a convoluted process over time that customers who learned to do so became loath to try competing products.

But that pattern can’t go on, according to CEO Chuck Robbins, who took over the San Jose company in 2015. At Cisco’s annual technology conference in Orlando last month, he declared that technical shifts are affecting how all companies used the internet, forcing Cisco to rewrite its product playbook.