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Cisco Aims to Continue Reinventing the Network, says President Sameer Garde

Enterprises around the world are adopting data-driven decision-making models, customers are communicating via mobile and social media platforms. In India too, we are seeing rapid adoption of mobile Internet, cloud technology, digital payments, digital identity etc. “India has the potential to lead in the new era of digitisation,” says Sameer Garde, president, Cisco India & Saarc. “Today, we are doing business with 30,000-35,000 customers. In the next three to five years, we aim to scale it up to 1-1.5 lakh customers, who will digitise or will be forced to digitise because of plummeting data prices and the GST,” he tells Sudhir Chowdhary in an interview. Excerpts:

Are we truly empowered and enabled for transition into this ‘digital world’?

The world is going through the process of getting increasingly ready for this digital transformation. So, if you went back seven or eight years, you probably used one device, sat in one office, and accessed probably couple of applications which were sitting in the datacentre. Seven years later, you are probably using three to four devices, accessing 25 to 30 applications, some from the datacentre, some from the cloud, some paid applications, some non-paid from six or seven different locations in different time zones.

Now for that dynamism to happen, you have to automate this process, which is why you need software. As an employee who needs to be digitally savvy, the question is: Is the infrastructure able to manage this new complexity? Is the IT department able to manage this new complexity from an infrastructure and from software perspective?

The whole concept has changed—how employees are using it, how customers are using applications and from where it is driving this transformation on the infrastructure side. This is not something that we have dreamt, to just suddenly go and innovate on the network. It is basically the customers who are driving us to innovate.

While there is a lot of buzz around SMB customer base and you have also launched Cisco START programme to tap this segment, a majority of them are still unclear about the services. What do you have to say about that?

Cisco START is even more relevant for them. Firstly, data cost has come down significantly. So a lot of them actually use mobile phones to do business now and some of those tools are available for free of cost. If you are a 100-plus people organisation in three or four different locations, you will need some form of meeting or collaboration tool—something you will need to be able to have meetings or to have video conferences or share information with each other. The moment you have a website, an email and some other applications, you become an attack surface or a digital attack surface and hence you will need cyber security for that.

So the point is that as data prices came down and GST became the norm, these SMBs had to digitise. And in their digitisation process, there will be a need for collaboration, security, switches and Wi-Fi and that is what Cisco START is all about.

What is your vision for helping enterprises on their digital transformation journey?

Today, we are doing business with 30,000-35,000 customers. In the next three to five years, we aim to scale it up to 1-1.5 lakh customers, who will digitise or will be forced to digitise because of plummeting data prices and the GST. Further, with the adoption of digital tools, organisations will need security and collaboration solutions. These firms will definitely need automation software to manage scale-ups as they grow.

What does digital transformation mean to Cisco?

India is leading the software transformation with the adoption of intent-based network deployment along with several other cutting edge technologies. To be ahead on the innovation curve, Cisco is reimagining the future by building a digital partner ecosystem. For us, it means two things. One, by being a part of our customers’ digitisation journey, we can help them scale their businesses faster. Two, it means growth for us with digitisation happening at government, SMBs and enterprise level which will spur employment and growth opportunities.

What kind of projects Cisco is working on with the government and private enterprises in India?

On the government side, we started our journey with Smart Cities around three years ago. The government has identified 99 smart cities across the country, out of which contracts for 15 to 16 cities have been awarded with Cisco having mandates for 80% of them. On the enterprise side, a large proportion of our business comes from banking financial services and IT companies. I think we will see a lot more focus in manufacturing and education going forward. My personal passion is to go and see if we can make a big headway in terms of growth and the commercial SMB sector.

How is Cisco differentiating itself from the competition in this space?

What we are currently doing by innovating on the network is having that end-to-end story with customers on the network datacentre with AppDynamics on the application layer. We make sure that you are focused around customer experience, employee experience and the security across all of this. So I don’t think anybody else has that kind of a story and that’s what differentiates us. In addition, it is also about building stronger relationships with our customers and with our partners. That is an entry barrier for a lot of our customers or for a lot of our competitors.

What are the key priorities for Cisco India in 2018-19?

Among our key priorities is to grow commercial business and SMBs faster than the overall business. We also want to continue to grow our reckoning revenue, software and services business must faster than our overall business and partner with the government on Digital 2.0 initiatives. And finally, we aim to continue to reinvent the network, focus on our core and help customers modernise the network. – Financial Express

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