Tech Transformers

Middle East outpacing US in $19 trillion opportunity, says Cisco chairman

Hope Trump will implement a digital agenda: Cisco Exec Chair

The U.S. is lagging behind the rest of the world in its digital strategy and is set to miss out on a $19 trillion opportunity if the new U.S. administration does not take heed, according to the executive chairman of CISCO.

As the "only country in the world" without a digital agenda, John Chambers told CNBC that it is up to President Donald Trump to implement a digital agenda which can take advantage of the "tremendous opportunity" for business growth and job creation which is already being embraced by other countries, particularly in the Middle East.

Chambers countered wider skepticism about digitization and its resultant job cuts, saying that the new President must embrace technology to be in with a chance of creating the levels of new jobs promised during his campaigning.

"This digitization is going to take place; you have to deal with the world the way it is," he said, touching on President Trump's anti-globalization campaign rhetoric.

This needs to be a joint collaboration between the public and private sectors, he said, speaking at the World Government Summit in Dubai. Ultimately, however, this needs to start with start-ups and small businesses – "that's where all the job creation will occur."

"I'm optimistic that if our country in the U.S. starts to lead we can do this in a way that's very inclusive for all job growth.

"If you're trying to grow jobs by 25 million in the U.S. over this next decade - or even faster – it has to start with small businesses and start-ups."

Digitalization is going to take place: Cisco Exec Chair

Chambers compared the U.S. to the Middle East, which he said is striving ahead in its digital agenda, with countries such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia rethinking how they approach the market.

"(They are) using this digital world to bring not only jobs to their country but to bring the opportunity to increase dramatically the middle class and role models throughout the Middle East."

This transformation is bringing the region closer to achieving peace than it has been in two decades, according to Chambers, as society is brought into a greater equilibrium.

He also praised the governments of India and France for their efforts in driving the digital agenda.

"I think it can completely transform everything. Great economic growth $19 trillion over the next decade, that's one to three points on ever country's GDP. But it can also change the lives, in an inclusive way, of every citizen in key countries," he said.

"Every country in the world will go digital, every city, every company. It will be a period of tremendous opportunity to leapfrog your counterparts around the world or, if you don't move, a chance to get left behind."