Skip to main content

B2B Tech Storytelling: Leading with Purposeful Narratives

I read the book “Connecting the Dots” by John Chambers from the perspective of an industry insider, having worked within the internet sector since the mid-90s, and also previously as an employee at Cisco Systems for six years.

I believe that Mr. Chambers was instrumental in helping to make ‘strategic communications’ an essential part of the company’s high-growth culture. Therefore, I’ll elaborate on a key topic, highlighted in Chapter Four of the book -- “Embrace Your Purpose, Not Your Products.”

Cisco is often referred to as a ‘bellwether’ stock, meaning it’s a leading indicator of the direction of the economy, or of a sector of the market, or the market as a whole. How did Cisco achieve that eminence with a remarkable internet-enabled worldview? It was partly via commercial storytelling.


"Together, we did play a critical role in changing how the world works, lives, learns, and plays." - John T. Chambers

Rise Above the Me-Too Vendor Noise

In an industry that’s typically technology-centric or product-centric, Cisco was able to establish and maintain a distinctive point of view that’s positioned higher up the value chain. The core marketing principle is not to focus on ‘what you make’ (products or services) but instead focus on ‘what you make possible’ (business outcomes) for your customers.

Moreover, rather than attempting to merely lead a ‘product category’ in an industry, you instead aspire to lead a ‘transformation movement’ that people can easily understand and relate to on an emotional level. Mr. Chambers echoes this universal approach in his market-leading narratives.

Two examples are the Cisco “Connected Life” narrative and the “Internet of Everything.” Both are visionary topics we applied as a way to communicate a somewhat unique perspective that engaged people across a broad spectrum of current socio-economic issues.

Furthermore, Cisco developed two internet market trend studies that have been adopted and quoted frequently by the global business media on an ongoing basis. The “Visual Networking Index” and the “Global Cloud Index” are insightful examples of the Cisco Playbook in action.

Be Courageous: Dare To Be Different

So, in summary, I believe this is an important lesson for leadership in a startup world.

To become a truly differentiated bellwether in your market sector, start by raising the bar of expectations for your leadership team. Envision a ‘movement’ that you can passionately lead in the marketplace -- as the recognized #1 or #2 influencer. Establish and nurture your compelling point of view with real meaning and substance that will inspire all the key stakeholders.

Above all, appoint a person(s) that can train and mentor your thought leader employees to become ‘commercial storytelling’ practitioners. Consider integrating design thinking and agile methodologies into your corporate culture. And lastly, be bold, be remarkable and then you’ll be influential (do upskill your own authentic internal influencers, don’t buy external influence).

Note, I've previously shared more insights about "Story-Driven B2B Marketing."

The Forerunner: back in 2010, we launched the "Connected Life Exchange." Here is an award review by AdAge in 2013 - "The blog's editorial focus is on how networks and technology are changing the world."

Resource: Thanks to Edelman and LinkedIn for their related study findings.

Resource: Thanks to Forrester Research for sharing survey findings on what technology buyers think about the materials they get from their technology suppliers.

Popular posts from this blog

Digital Transformation Spending Reaches $1.8 Trillion

Ongoing investment in business technology will remain on track, despite concerns about the global economic outlook which continues to evolve in 2022. Enterprise CIOs and CTOs are focused on operational profitability and digital business growth goals that are enabled by strategic IT initiatives. Global spending on the Digital Transformation (DX) of business practices, products, and organizations is forecast to reach $1.8 trillion in 2022 -- that's an increase of 17.6 percent over 2021, according to the latest market study by International Data Corporation (IDC). Many anticipated DX investments will sustain this pace of growth throughout the 2021-2025 forecast period, with a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.6 percent. Digital Transformation Global Market Development "IDC expects to see aggressive DX technology investment growth in 2022 following a minor slowdown during the pandemic period," said Craig Simpson, senior research manager at IDC . "As orga

Why Cloud-Native is The Future of IT Spending

The leading organizations that create a digital transformation plan will gain the most from their use of public cloud computing. However, some CIO and CTO leaders still struggle with how to build a modern cloud migration strategy. The worldwide cloud computing Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) market grew 41.4 percent in 2021, to a total of $90.9 billion -- that's up from $64.3 billion in 2020, according to the latest market study by Gartner. "The IaaS market continues to grow unabated as cloud-native becomes the primary architecture for modern workloads," said Sid Nag, vice president and analyst at Gartner . Cloud IaaS Market Development Cloud supports the scalability and composability that advanced technologies and applications require, while also enabling enterprise leaders to address emerging needs such as sovereignty, data integration, and enhanced customer experience. In 2021, the top five IaaS providers accounted for over 80 percent of the market. Amazon AWS conti

Private 5G Networks and Enterprise Wi-Fi Converge

The global enterprise wireless networking market is evolving. Driven by a desire to take advantage of the available 6 GHz communications spectrum, with greatly improved broadband throughput and latency rates, more organizations may choose to adopt Wi-Fi 6E technologies. According to the latest worldwide market study by ABI Research, shipments of Wi-Fi 6E access points and routers will rise from 1.5 million units in 2022 to 5.2 million units by 2024. Wireless spectrum expansion is just one facet of the commercial wireless network market transition, as the technology of Wi-Fi customer premise equipment will be upgraded once again with Wi-Fi 7 (IEEE 802.11be standard) devices. Enterprise Wireless Network Market Development "The adoption of Wi-Fi 7 access points will accelerate following the protocols standardization in 2024, and just two years later, most 6 GHz enabled access point shipments will be supporting Wi-Fi 7," said Andrew Spivey, industry analyst at ABI Research . Anot