Special Report: BtoB's annual Top 25 E-Champions: Keith Fox

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When the Nasdaq recovers and Cisco Systems Inc.'s stock price blues and recent round of layoffs are forgotten, chances are the company's watchers will point to Keith Fox's role in the turnaround.

Fox is the top marketer at the world's foremost b-to-b Internet infrastructure company. It is a role he fulfilled smashingly during the good times that have marked his tenure since he joined Cisco in 1996, orchestrating everything from its first TV ad campaign to the Cisco Networking Academy. Now, amid the weakening market, it is apparent that Fox is still up to the job.

Name: Keith Fox
Title: VP-worldwide corporate marketing
Company: Cisco Systems Inc., San Jose, Calif.
Mission: "It's about content, communications and commerce."

In recent months, the detail-oriented Fox—a style he picked up in his first gig, as the manager of a Massachusetts retail computer store—has been obsessing that the expensive marketing programs he started in recent years be carried out to the nth degree.

Among them: Fox's Cisco e-learning initiative, which he launched in 1998. Today, he is focusing on making sure the program's message, which focuses on product education, is delivered to Cisco's b-to-b clients. "You can educate people on products and technologies, and they can decide how important each experience is," Fox said. "It's about content, communications and commerce. The person that understands that understands the power of the Internet, and they beat their competition."

And while much of Fox's marketing focus is on the Web, he is among the few big company technology marketers who also understands the value—and nuances—of offline branding. "Brand is about the experience everyone has with your company," Fox said. "A bad experience on a phone call is a bad brand experience."
—Philip B. Clark

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