In today’s world, every company is becoming a software-driven company to remain in the game. Therefore, it comes as little surprise that IT networking major, Cisco Systems, that has traditionally been a hardware driven company, is leaving no stones unturned to make a huge shift towards becoming a software services provider in recent months. What’s interesting is that the company is placing its bet on newer concepts such as intent-based networking, focusing on the Indian enterprises and SMBs to lead this change.
The US networking giant is also touching the lives of people who are deprived of privileges offered by today’s technological solutions, with its global vision of impacting 1 billion lives worldwide by 2025 through digital solutions.
These and many more interesting initiatives were showcased and discussed at the recently concluded fifth edition of ‘Cisco India Summit 2018’ held in Goa. CXOToday brings to you some of the key highlights and takeaways from the event.
India continues to be a key growth market
For Cisco, India has always been a key growth market. In recent years, the company is bullish about the country’s digital disruption.
Speaking at the Summit, Sameer Garde, President-India and SAARC, who took over the reins last year, mentioned how India is transforming at scale and speed. “India’s internet economy will double to USD 250 billion in 2021.” It is collaborating with Indian governments and private enterprises to reach what it calls the ‘Digital Rush’ that’s going to be USD 80 trillion worth of the global economy, of which India has the potential to be a USD 6 trillion economy by 2027.
Quoting a recent Cisco report, Garde said, “In a country where 3x investment is expected in digital infrastructure in the next five years, and 250,000 Gram Panchayat to get 10 Gbps connectivity and 10 million Wi-Fi hotspots to come up by 2022, it is the right time that in the last one year, we have reinvented the network, which is fueling digital transformation in India.
Also, as customers are choosing simplicity over complexity in technology, Cisco’s other focus areas to make India digitally-ready is to increase the pace of innovation in the enterprise by helping them embrace a multi-cloud system, unlocking the power of data, building a strong secured foundation and enhancing both employee and customer experience. “In the process we are building a strong partner ecosystem,” said Garde.
Today Cisco claims to have 125 customers being added on to its new network, including Wipro, Infosys, NSE, TCS, HDFC Bank, Viraj, Fiserv, Tech Mahindra, Ashok Leyland, among several others.
Betting on Intent Based Networking, Webex
Despite being proud of its hardware driven legacy, the company is transforming as service and software organization to stay ahead in the race. “Cisco’s software income globally stood around 33 percent globally, but in India, it is 40 percent, that is, seven points higher than the global average,” said Garde, who further explained that the company is betting on intent-based networking, a software based approach that helps the IT department create and implement networks with considerable boost to their performance and agility.
Rajesh Shetty, Director Sales Operations – Enterprise Networking Architecture, Cisco, explained that by helping enterprises in translating business intent and needs into network policy and action, the company is enabling them to innovate faster and prepare their networks for the future.
Cisco’s first global deployment of intent based networking was also in India, with Wipro as the first customer and TCS, its largest customer of DNA SDA deployment, according to Garde.
Moreover, Cisco’s software selling trajectory is changing significantly, as Garde informed, “Earlier over 50 percent of our software sales was pute software licensing and now it has moved to subscription-based licenses.”
The company is also bullish about workplace collaboration and believes that Webex, is opening up more opportunities for users in the area of collaboration. According to him, a huge chunk of its growth is coming from its Webex meeting business and video endpoint solution in India, as there is an increasing demand for collaborative tools in the enterprise.
According to him, “The country’s top five IT/ITes companies are using over 2 billion Webex minute a year.” The company is now looking to enter into new segments like manufacturing, education and will be focusing more on Digital India 2.0, managed security services, while changing its business model towards Service as a network, Wi-Fi and Webex as a platform,” he mentioned.
Shetty couldn’t agree more that Cisco is clearly positioning itself as a holistic end-to-end tech vendor than just a network vendor. “We are now having more command over the network, managing the network more through software and making it more intuitive in terms of data.
At the same time, he said that Security is extremely critical with many devices, and growing in and outside the network. We have made a significant investment in cybersecurity space in recent times, he said, adding that one of such purposes of Cisco and Google partnership was to strengthen multi-cloud solutions, which will fulfill requirements of security, policy, and configuration.
Spotlight on SMBs
For Cisco, SMBs constitute about 50 percent of its business in India and is one of the fastest growing segments followed by BFSI, IT/ITes. The company is currently doing business with 30,000 customers and is looking to triple the SMBs customers to 90,000 in next three years and over a lakh in the next 5 years.
Sudhir Nayar, Managing Director, Commercial, Cisco, said that India’s over 50 million SMBs currently contribute 37.5 per cent to the country’s GDP. However, given that about 70 percent of Indian SMBs still remain offline in the country, there is enough scope to transform them and drive overall growth in India. The scope will continue to enhance with the uptake of digital technologies, as SMBs could help increase their contribution to GDP by 10 percent, he said.
To help SMBs transform their businesses, Cisco introduced an enterprise-class technology solution called “Cisco Start” which, according to Nayar, is exceptionally simple to install and use and comes at a highly competitive price range.
Fostering tech entrepreneurship
V C Gopalratnam, Cisco’s Senior VP-IT and Global CIO informed that education is one area the company is bullish about in the India market. Cisco is collaborating with the NASSCOM Foundation to set up network of ‘Cisco thingQbator’ labs in five academic institutions in India, aimed at enhancing digital skills development and entrepreneurship among the student community.
These institutions are Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management, (IIITMK), Kerala, IIT-BHU Varanasi, Amrita University Coimbatore, Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women- Delhi and Trident Academy of Technology Bhubaneswar.
“These IoT innovation labs are being set up in collaboration with the Nasscom Foundation and will enable students to work on digital solutions to solve local problems,” he said.
Cisco is also supporting N/Core, an incubator for social sector startups, to launch N/Core tech, an exclusive track focused on incubating early-stage nonprofits that leverage digital technology to positively impact society and solve some of India’s most pressing social challenges, such as critical human needs, education, and economic empowerment.
“Cisco will support up to 20 organizations during the first year in two cohorts. Each selected startup will receive an innovation grant of Rs 10 lakh. In addition, the startup will have access to a set of mentors and technology experts from Cisco along with N/Core partners,” Gopalratnam explained.
Supporting critical human needs, environment
Cisco is also supporting the Akshaya Patra Foundation’s mid-day meal program to help feed 35,000 children across the country daily by digitizing their kitchens across seven locations in India. This digitization effort connects Akshaya Patra kitchens and their offices to efficiently track their kitchen production, distribution, supply chain and logistics.
Cisco is also committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adopting renewable energy. It recently signed two solar power purchase agreements (PPAs) that will collectively deliver 85,000 megawatt-hours of clean, renewable electricity every year to the local electric grid near its Bangalore campus. These agreements will help the company to minimize power consumption of its Bangalore campus by 40 percent using solar power.
Harish Krishnan, Managing Director, Public Affairs & Strategic Engagements, Cisco India & SAARC said, “For India to compete in the global economy, strategic collaboration between businesses, governments and non-governmental organizations is critical. At Cisco, our collaborations and programs are focused on harnessing the power of technology to support and launch a generation of problem solvers who will innovate like technologists, think like entrepreneurs and act as social change agents.”