Tech Transformers

A $19 trillion 'digital revolution' is coming and the US is lagging: Cisco's Chambers

The world is going through a new "digital revolution" that could have 10 times the economic impact that the internet had, adding $19 trillion to the global economy, but the U.S. is getting left behind, the executive chairman of Cisco warned Thursday.

During a CNBC-hosted session at the Viva Technology conference in Paris, John Chambers outlined how countries such as Israel, India and France are leading the way in digitizing their nations, but the U.S. has no game plan.

"If you watch, the fundamental change that now is occurring in all society, the information age which went from 1990 to 2010, the U.S. was a key beneficiary of that, President Clinton rode it quite effectively with GDP growth, job creation. You're now about to see a digital revolution with five to 10 times the impact of the internet today," Chambers said.

"And so you are going to see every country, every city, every state, every company regardless of size, every home...and that will completely transform society. The economic benefits (are) probably $19 trillion and what surprised me is actually we see governments leading in this as opposed to business and France is at the forefront of that."

John Chambers, executive chairman of Cisco, speaks to CNBC's Nancy Hungerford on stage at the Viva Technology event in Paris on Thursday, June 30.
Arjun Kharpal | CNBC

Chambers said that while countries are changing, the U.S. is "the only country in the world who does not have a digital plan for the country."

Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has been on a drive to modernize its economy and bring internet to a wider number of citizens. Last year, the government launched the Digital India initiative to improve the country's online infrastructure. India has also managed to breed some highly valued start-ups including Uber rival Ola and e-commerce firm Flipkart. Last year, Modi visited Silicon Valley to build stronger ties between America's biggest tech hub and India.

Israel also has a burgeoning start-up scene in many areas of the country. And France has had some notable success in recent times with the likes of long-distance ride sharing service BlaBlaCar - which is valued at over $1 billion. The French government has also been pushing a new digital bill through parliament which aims to introduce laws to breed more start-ups.

Next Apple from Europe?

Chambers made a bold call on France, saying that it could become the top tech hub in Europe.

"The start-up community is going to explode in France and France will become the start-up capital of Europe," the Cisco chairman said, adding that his company will look to acquire companies from France.

While European unicorns - tech firms valued at over $1 billion - have been on the rise, the valuations have fallen far behind the U.S with companies unable to command valuations of tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. But Chambers said this would change with the region likely to produce the next Apple or Facebook.

"It used to be whenever they (tech companies) came over to the U.S. to see what we're doing, the tech companies could come to the U.S. for marketing expertise, for venture funding...but you are going to see unbelievable ideas occur at a faster pace around the world," Chambers said.