Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) has taken its share of lumps in the last year -- its revenue took a dive, it killed its Flip video business and Umi home telepresence business after admitting it had lost its direction and it laid off roughly 6,500 positions. But is Cisco in a better position today than it was this time last year? So far, signs point to yes. Here's why.

To be sure, 2011 was bloody, and CEO John Chambers knows it. "Last year we got knocked on our tail," he said during his keynote at the Cisco Partner Summit 2012 event in San Diego. "I got a little soft on the competition and the competition took advantage of that."

But the result was a forced correction that trimmed the workforce and refocused the company's efforts on what it does best, he said. "We are now leaner, we are stronger and we are better positioned to meet the needs of our partners and our customers."

Chambers noted Cisco's two main rivals gunning for its business last year -- Juniper Networks and HP -- have all but fallen off the map in 2012.

Cisco, he said, is now operating on the mantra that the network is the platform, and has shifted its architecture to utilize common, "smart" ASICs combined with software for easier connections. "We recognized our product lines were being built in silos, and so we've shifted our architectures to make it more seamless, end to end," Chambers said.

"The point is, We know where this (the future of technology) is going and we will approach it in multiple ways," he said.

Pretty decisive words for a company that last year looked as though it might implode like a black hole. But Cisco seemed to have made the right decisions at the right time, and now its vision to become an $80 billion company may not be so far-fetched.

Chambers pointed out in his keynote that changes normally aren't felt for six to 18 months after they occur; if that's the case, we should have a much better idea of Cisco's ability to once again take the IT throne by the end of 2012. We'll be waiting.