Cisco Systems SWOT Analysis / Matrix

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SWOT analysis is a vital strategic planning tool that can be used by Cisco Systems managers to do a situational analysis of the company . It is a handy technique to analyze the present Strengths (S), Weakness (W), Opportunities (O) & Threats (T) Cisco Systems is facing in its current business environment.

The Cisco Systems is one of the leading firms in its industry. Cisco Systems maintains its dominant position in market by critically analyzing and reviewing the SWOT analysis.  SWOT analysis an immensenly interactive process and requires effective coordination among various departments within the company such as – marketing, finance, operations, management information systems and strategic planning.

The SWOT Analysis framework helps an organization to identify the internal strategic factors such as -strengths and weaknesses, & external strategic factors such as - opportunities and threats. It leads to a 2X2 matrix – also known as SWOT Matrix.

The Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats (SWOT) Analysis / Matrix enables the managers of the Cisco Systems to develop four types of strategies:

  • SO (strengths-opportunities) Strategies
  • WO (weaknesses-opportunities) Strategies
  • ST (strengths-threats) Strategies
  •  WT (weaknesses-threats) Strategies
Cisco Systems swot analysis / matrix

SWOT Matrix Strategies Objective

The primary purpose of SWOT matrix is to identify the strategies that an organization can use to exploit external opportunities, counter threats, and build on & protect Cisco Systems strengths, and eradicate its weaknesses.

Step by Step Guide to Cisco Systems SWOT Analysis

Strengths of Cisco Systems – Internal Strategic Factors

As one of the leading companies in its industry, Cisco Systems has numerous strengths that help it to thrive in the market place. These strengths not only help it to protect the market share in existing markets but also help in penetrating new markets. Based on Fern Fort University extensive research – some of the strengths of Cisco Systems are –

  • Reliable suppliers – It has a strong base of reliable supplier of raw material thus enabling the company to overcome any supply chain bottlenecks.
  • Strong distribution network – Over the years Cisco Systems has built a reliable distribution network that can reach majority of its potential market.
  • Highly successful at Go To Market strategies for its products.
  • Highly skilled workforce through successful training and learning programs. Cisco Systems is investing huge resources in training and development of its employees resulting in a workforce that is not only highly skilled but also motivated to achieve more.
  • Strong Free Cash Flow – Cisco Systems has strong free cash flows that provide resources in the hand of the company to expand into new projects.
  • Strong Brand Portfolio – Over the years Cisco Systems has invested in building a strong brand portfolio. The SWOT analysis of Cisco Systems just underlines this fact. This brand portfolio can be extremely useful if the organization wants to expand into new product categories.
  • Superb Performance in New Markets – Cisco Systems has built expertise at entering new markets and making success of them. The expansion has helped the organization to build new revenue stream and diversify the economic cycle risk in the markets it operates in.
  • Successful track record of developing new products – product innovation.

Weakness of Cisco Systems – Internal Strategic Factors

Weakness are the areas where Cisco Systems can improve upon. Strategy is about making choices and weakness are the areas where a company can improve using SWOT analysis and build on its competitive advantage and strategic positioning.

  • Not very good at product demand forecasting leading to higher rate of missed opportunities compare to its competitors. One of the reason why the days inventory is high compare to its competitors is that Cisco Systems is not very good at demand forecasting thus end up keeping higher inventory both in-house and in channel.
  • High attrition rate in work force – compare to other organizations in the industry Cisco Systems has a higher attrition rate and have to spend a lot more compare to its competitors on training and development of its employees.
  • Days inventory is high compare to the competitors – making the company raise more capital to invest in the channel. This can impact the long term growth of Cisco Systems
  • Not highly successful at integrating firms with different work culture. As mentioned earlier even though Cisco Systems is successful at integrating small companies it has its share of failure to merge firms that have different work culture.
  • Financial planning is not done properly and efficiently. The current asset ratio and liquid asset ratios suggest that the company can use the cash more efficiently than what it is doing at present.
  • Limited success outside core business – Even though Cisco Systems is one of the leading organizations in its industry it has faced challenges in moving to other product segments with its present culture.
  • Need more investment in new technologies. Given the scale of expansion and different geographies the company is planning to expand into, Cisco Systems needs to put more money in technology to integrate the processes across the board. Right now the investment in technologies is not at par with the vision of the company.

Opportunities for Cisco Systems – External Strategic Factors

  • Economic uptick and increase in customer spending, after years of recession and slow growth rate in the industry, is an opportunity for Cisco Systems to capture new customers and increase its market share.
  • Decreasing cost of transportation because of lower shipping prices can also bring down the cost of Cisco Systems’s products thus providing an opportunity to the company - either to boost its profitability or pass on the benefits to the customers to gain market share.
  • The market development will lead to dilution of competitor’s advantage and enable Cisco Systems to increase its competitiveness compare to the other competitors.
  • Government green drive also opens an opportunity for procurement of Cisco Systems products by the state as well as federal government contractors.
  • Stable free cash flow provides opportunities to invest in adjacent product segments. With more cash in bank the company can invest in new technologies as well as in new products segments. This should open a window of opportunity for Cisco Systems in other product categories.
  • The new taxation policy can significantly impact the way of doing business and can open new opportunity for established players such as Cisco Systems to increase its profitability.
  • Lower inflation rate – The low inflation rate bring more stability in the market, enable credit at lower interest rate to the customers of Cisco Systems.
  • The new technology provides an opportunity to Cisco Systems to practices differentiated pricing strategy in the new market. It will enable the firm to maintain its loyal customers with great service and lure new customers through other value oriented propositions.

Threats Cisco Systems Facing - External Strategic Factors

  • The demand of the highly profitable products is seasonal in nature and any unlikely event during the peak season may impact the profitability of the company in short to medium term.
  • The company can face lawsuits in various markets given - different laws and continuous fluctuations regarding product standards in those markets.
  • Imitation of the counterfeit and low quality product is also a threat to Cisco Systems’s product especially in the emerging markets and low income markets.
  • New environment regulations under Paris agreement (2016) could be a threat to certain existing product categories .
  • Changing consumer buying behavior from online channel could be a threat to the existing physical infrastructure driven supply chain model.
  • Shortage of skilled workforce in certain global market represents a threat to steady growth of profits for Cisco Systems   in those markets.
  • As the company is operating in numerous countries it is exposed to currency fluctuations especially given the volatile political climate in number of markets across the world.
  • Liability laws in different countries are different and Cisco Systems may be exposed to various liability claims given change in policies in those markets.

Limitations of SWOT Analysis for Cisco Systems

Although the SWOT analysis is widely used as a strategic planning tool, the analysis does have its share of limitations.

  • Certain capabilities or factors of an organization can be both a strength and weakness at the same time. This is one of the major limitations of SWOT analysis . For example changing environmental regulations can be both a threat to company it can also be an opportunity in a sense that it will enable the company to be on a level playing field or at advantage to competitors if it able to develop the products faster than the competitors.
  • SWOT does not show how to achieve a competitive advantage, so it must not be an end in itself.
  • The matrix is only a starting point for a discussion on how proposed strategies could be implemented. It provided an evaluation window but not an implementation plan based on strategic competitiveness of Cisco Systems
  • SWOT is a static assessment - analysis of status quo with few prospective changes. As circumstances, capabilities, threats, and strategies change, the dynamics of a competitive environment may not be revealed in a single matrix.
  • SWOT analysis may lead the firm to overemphasize a single internal or external factor in formulating strategies. There are interrelationships among the key internal and external factors that SWOT does not reveal that may be important in devising strategies.

Weighted SWOT Analysis of Cisco Systems

In light of the above mentioned limitations of the SWOT analysis / matrix, corporate managers decided to provide weightage to each internal strength and weakness of the firm. Organizations also assess the likelihood of events taking place in the coming future and how strong their impact could be on company's performance.

This method is called Weighted SWOT analysis. It is better than doing simplistic SWOT analysis because with Weighted SWOT Analysis Cisco Systems managers can focus on the most critical factors and discount the non-important one. It also solves the long list problem where organizations ends up making a long list but none of the factors deemed too critical.

Limitation of Weighted SWOT analysis of Cisco Systems

This approach also suffers from one major drawback - it focus on individual importance of factor rather than how they are collectively important and impact the business holistically.

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Example of Weighted SWOT Analysis

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SWOT Worksheet & Template

If you like to do your own SWOT analysis or want to make your own Weighted SWOT SWOT matrix then feel free to download Fern Fort University SWOT Analysis Template.

References / Citations & Bibliography

  • M. E. Porter, Competitive Strategy(New York: Free Press, 1980)
  • A. D. Chandler, Strategy and Structure (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1962)
  • O. E. Williamson, Markets and Hierarchies(New York: Free Press, 1975);
  • L. Wrigley, Divisional Autonomy and Diversification (PhD, Harvard Business School, 1970)
  • R. E. White, Generic Business Strategies, Organizational Context and Performance: An Empirical Investigation, Strategic Management Journal7 (1986)