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

Big Data Analytics Revenue to Reach $215.7 Billion

Across the globe, more leaders seek actionable insight from the customer data they've stored in huge data lakes. Worldwide spending on big data and business analytics (BDA) solutions is forecast to reach $215.7 billion in 2021 -- that's an increase of 10.1 percent over 2020, according to the latest worldwide market study by International Data Corporation (IDC). Moreover, BDA technology investment will likely gain momentum over the next five years as the global economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for global BDA spending over the 2021-2025 forecast period will be 12.8 percent. Big Data Analytics Market Development "As executives seek solutions to enable better, faster decisions, we're seeing relatively healthy BDA spending across all industries. Leveraging data for insights into everything from internal business operations to the customer journey is top of mind and of strategic importance," said Jessica Goepfert, vice

Warehouse Robot Deployment Gains New Momentum

The retail and wholesale back-office infrastructure market is being transformed by technology. The warehousing industry has accelerated automation efforts due to the increased order volume and labor shortages driven by the global pandemic. In addition to technology solutions such as handheld devices with enhanced capabilities, autonomous, collaborative, and mobile robots are proving to be the fastest-growing productivity-enhancing solution in the warehouse workspace. Commercial Robotics Market Development According to the latest worldwide market study by ABI Research, global commercial robot revenue in warehouses will have a Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of over 23 percent from 2021 to 2030 and exceed $51 billion by 2030. "Mobile robots are at the heart of the warehouse robotics market and account for most shipments and revenue. These robots, made up of Autonomous Guided Vehicles (AGVs) and Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs), are being used to move goods within the warehouse a

Hybrid Work: How to Enhance Employee Productivity

When you hire qualified talent for a key role and trust them to perform, you'll likely achieve the best outcome. Skilled and experienced people will deliver results, regardless of the challenges. That's a key lesson learned from the pandemic experience as most knowledge workers were asked to work from their homes. However, some resist returning to an open-plan office. It's unacceptable. Meanwhile, forward-thinking leaders decided a "return to normal" is undesirable, and in hindsight, everyone should aspire to be more accomodating than before. Therefore, location flexibility is okay. Hybrid Workforce Market Development How will people adapt to these changes? They'll apply the modern IT tools at their disposal. They'll learn new skills and thrive. Nearly 80 percent of employees are now successfully using online collaboration tools for work in 2021 -- that's up from just over half of workers in 2019, according to the latest market study by Gartner. This g