Strategic Planning Case Study: Cisco’s Internet Scenarios to 2025

For an excellent example of strategic planning at work, consider the following case study. Cisco and Monitor Global Business Network set out to develop scenarios that answered important questions about the future of the Internet. The following example may be relevant to your organization. Although you may not be able to use these scenarios in total because they weren’t created to solve your specific business issue, often you can use them as inputs to your scenario planning process.

  • What will the Internet be like in 2025?

  • How much bigger will the Internet have grown from today’s 2 billion users and $3 trillion market?

  • Will the Internet have achieved its full potential to connect the world’s entire population in ways that advance global prosperity, business productivity, education, and social interaction?

In Cisco’s Internet scenarios report, titled “The Evolving Internet: Driving Forces, Uncertainties, and Four Scenarios to 2025,” it identified the following drivers and scenarios:

  • Key Drivers: Cisco’s three driving forces are (1) size and scope of broadband network build out, (2) incremental or breakthrough technological progress, and (3) unbridled or constrained demand from Internet users.

  • Scenario 1 — Fluid Frontiers: This scenario predicts a world in which the Internet becomes pervasive and centrifugal. Technology continues to make connectivity and devices more and more affordable (in spite of limited investment in network build-out) while global entrepreneurship — and fierce competition — ensure that the wide range of needs and demands from across the world are met quickly and from equally diverse setups and locations.

  • Scenario 2 — Insecure Growth: In this scenario, users — individuals and business alike — are inhibited from intensive reliance on the Internet. Relentless cyber attacks driven by wide-ranging motivations defy the preventive capabilities of governments and international bodies.

  • Scenario 3 — Short of the Promise: This scenario consists of a frugal world in which prolonged economic stagnation in many countries takes its toll on the spread of the Internet. Technology offers no compensating breakthroughs, and protectionist policy responses to economic weakness make matters worse — both in economic terms and with regard to network technology adoption.

  • Scenario 4 — Bursting at the Seams: In this scenario, the Internet becomes a victim of its own success. Demand for IP-based services is boundless, but capacity constraints and occasional bottlenecks create a gap between the expectations and reality of Internet use. Meanwhile, international technology standards don’t come to pass, in part because of a global backlash against decades of U.S. technology dominance.

If you’re interested in the implications and potential strategies from these four scenarios, check out the full report on the Cisco website. Scenario developers provide a set of excellent implications and possible strategies for each scenario that can be readily applied by companies who provide devices, connectivity, software or services, and/or content.

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