SWOT Analysis of Cisco: Strengths & Weaknesses 2021

NameCisco Systems Inc.
IndustryNetworking Hardware
HeadquartersSan Jose, California, United States
CEOChuck Robins 
Revenue$49.3 billion (2020)
Profit$11.2 billion (2020)
CompetitorsHuawei, Juniper Networks, Arista Network, Dell Technologies, HPE

Company Overview

Sandy Lerner and Leonard Bosack founded Cisco System in 1984, a U.S multinational technology corporation based in San Jose, California. Cisco has made a significant contribution in the technology and hardware sector by manufacturing and selling high-tech products and services, telecommunication equipment, and networking software and hardware (Annual Report, 2020). Additionally, with its diverse portfolio of acquired subsidiaries like Jasper, Jabber, Webex, and OpenDNS, Cisco has specialized in different tech markets, including energy management and domain security, Delaware, and Internet of Things (IoT) (Cisco, 2012). Since the company went public in the early 90s, it had acquired a market capitalization of more than $220 million by 2000, and by 2021, the company has a market capitalization of approximately $230 billion (Cisco, 2020).

Cisco Strengths 2021:

  • The Company Ranks 1st on Gartner Supply Chain Index.

    In the recent 17th edition of the Supply Chain top 25, Cisco ranks first among its peers for the second consecutive year, 2021 (Conn, 2021). The company is regarded with higher agility and critical infrastructure capability for vaccine and hospital research during Covid-19. 

  • Business Strategy.

    Cisco is among the few companies that have established itself to become a technology leader by investing and providing innovative cloud networking and cybersecurity technology, emphasizing largely on developed markets. The company’s strategy of attaining small-medium enterprises (SMEs) has supported it to gain a larger market share than its competitors (Cohan, 2021). As per the article of Forbes, the company has managed to grow by 5% through acquisitions alone. 

  • High Market Share.

    Another strength of Cisco is its leadership or maintaining almost the top spots in various market segments as illustrated below:
Figure 1. Cisco’s market shares. Source: Statista (2021)
  • Maintaining Profits After Covid-19

    Besides the significant financial and economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic from mid-2020, Cisco had previously maintained strong financial standing in 2018 and 2019 with net income and annual revenue of the company increased considerably by 5.22% and 2.7%.  By the end of the fiscal year of 2021, Cisco recorded a strong QR performance of $13 billion, double-digit growth in all geographies and customers markets. Its financial strength is a key factor behind its growth in the market and enabled it to introduce multiple new projects (Cisco, 2021a).

  • Research & Development.

    As per the estimates, the annual R&D expenditure of the company in 2021 was more than $6.25 billion. With its significantly strong R&D mechanism, Cisco helped it keep introducing change in its services and products. The company, in fact, has developed several concepts, such as LAN, that have become popular globally (Cohan, 2021).

Cisco Weaknesses 2021:

  • Delaying Orders.

    Despite having an efficient delivery mechanism and high product quality, Cisco faces problems with order shipping and component shortages. Cisco has been encountering supply chain problems, which have resulted in delaying orders, distribution issues, and slow shipment. It has become a challenge for the company to produce quality products and then ship them timely to the customers, thus negatively affecting its brand reputation and losing deals compared to its rivals (Daisy, 2020).

  • Declining Sales.

    Apart from supply chain issues, Cisco has also witnessed a decline in its revenue. For example, Cisco Systems in the key infrastructure segment dropped continuously yearly, making its share price decline by 5% in 2021 (Haider, 2021). 

Cisco Opportunities 2021:

  • Software Market.

    The software publishing and development industry is rising, with key players offering a range of features in their applications. The industry has witnessed unprecedented growth in the past. It is predicted to grow in the future, given that the corporate and social world is largely dependent on online technological channels for communication and management of teams (Makarov, 2020). Therefore, this is an opportunity for Cisco to capitalize on, considering that the company already has a strong portfolio in the category of software. The company has the huge prospect of expanding and diversify its portfolio to enhance market coverage (Green, 2016).
  • Cloud Security.

    Considering the fast-growing trend in cloud security, it is likely that the global market of cloud security will experience a spike in sales. Earlier, the global cybersecurity industry was increased from 34 billion US dollars in 2017 to 42 billion in 2020. The US market is said to have the highest demand, which is projected to increase by 2 billion in 2021 (Liu, 2020). With such growth projections, Cisco has a great opportunity to expand and maximize revenue with its already established cybersecurity portfolio providing a range of services such as Email security, IronPort Encryption-appliance, Cisco Cloud clock, Security Intelligence Operations, and AnyConnect mobility solutions (Cisco, 2021b).

  • Data Mining.

    Cisco has a sizeable R&D software portfolio and facility. Hence, the tech giant can utilize its resource by offering data mining services, which will be a key addition to its already existing diverse product portfolio (Annual Report, 2020).

Cisco Threats 2021:

  • Pandemic.

    The net profitability, annual revenue, and sales of the company have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, which is raising unemployment, shutdown business, and reducing buying powers, thus directly affecting the growth and business of the company with a revenue decline of 9% for the fiscal year 2021 (Hardcastle, 2020).

  • Competition.

    It is found that Cisco is encountering stiff competition from its rivals, including Huawei technology, Juniper Networks, Dell, Samsung, Google, IBM, HP, Citrix Systems, Amazon Web, Microsoft, Brocade Communications, and others. The company is competing with these tech companies in different market segments, and their strong market share, reputation, brand name poses a considerable threat to Cisco (Jhonsa, 2017).

  • Market Volatility.

    The highly volatile applications and software, data mining, cloud service, and tech industries. Hence, Cisco is compelled to consistently maintain the quality of its product and services, resulting in the rise of R&D costs (Capital Group, 2018).

SWOT Analysis of Cisco Conclusion:

Based on this SWOT analysis, it can be concluded that Cisco is certainly one of the leading multinational technology companies. However, supply chain problems, Covid-19 pandemic, declining market share, competition, market volatility are a few of the challenges encountered by the company. Therefore, it is proposed that Cisco need to carefully manage its resources and make alliances with brands to grow and expand its portfolio and business.


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  5. Cisco. (2021a). Cisco Reports Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year 2021 Earnings. 
  6. Cisco. (2021b). What Is Cloud Security? Cisco.  
  7. Cohan, P. (2021). With Flurry of Acquisitions, Cisco Systems Strives to Grow At 5%. Forbes. 
  8. Conn, S. (2021). Gartner Announces Rankings of the 2021 Supply Chain Top 25. Gartner. 
  9. Daisy. (2020). CISCO Order Delays: Factories in Wuhan – Notification. Daisy. 
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  11. Haider, A. (2021). Cisco’s shares drop as key product segment’s sales decline in fiscal Q2. S&P Global Market Intelligence. 
  12. Hardcastle, J.L. (2020). Cisco Suffers Q4 COVID-19 Hit, Robbins Says Future Looks SASE, XaaSy. SDX Central. 
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  16. Makarov, A. (2020). Nine Software Development Trends in 2020 To Watch for Now. Forbes. 
  17. Statista. (2021). Cisco – statistics & facts. 

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