Authored by G.B. Kumar, Senior Vice President, Customer Advocacy, Cisco India & SAARC
The world around us is evolving from a place where networking was about connectivity to one where networking is intelligent, and where it plays a vital role in improving business performance and processes. As business and technology grow ever more closely aligned, the network is evolving into a strategic platform, for agility and better integration of people, information, and ideas.
Cisco Services believes that a well executed strategy is essentially one that is well grounded in business philosophy, with a strong understanding and focus on how businesses need to stay current and competitive in a rapidly changing world. In dynamic economies such as India, it would be prudent to keep an eye on the future and plan for sustainable growth, business continuity, innovation, and change.
Furthermore, Cisco Services recognizes that intelligent network services help companies to better plan their network availability, and enable them to realize the maximum value of technology innovations, now and in the future.
As the level of IT investment increases, there is a change in the perceived role of IT from a support function to an enabler of competitive advantage. Domestic demand for IT in India is witnessing a gradual transformation from being predominantly hardware driven, to being solutions oriented. This will result in a growing emphasis on IT services. A recent study by consulting firm Access Markets International (AMI) Partners shows that India's small and medium businesses (SMB) - companies with up to 999 employees - are increasing investments on Internet-related products and services, and are on track to touch US$1.26 billion this year, an impressive growth of 35 percent over last year.
Network-Related Business Goals
Businesses have to see business value and returns on investment when they make investments, and their investment in a network too should address four primary areas:
- Lowering the total cost of network ownership - Companies try to lower the total cost of network ownership while they add new technologies to an existing network, procure equipment, train staff, manage network performance, and maintain the network.
- Improving business agility - Business agility can be described as an organization’s ability to respond rapidly to changing business or market conditions and adapt to the changing demands of its customers and the business environment.
- Speeding access to applications and services - Speeding access to applications and services helps enable business agility. For example, an IP Communications system could be outfitted with a customer relationship application that enables incoming calls to automatically trigger the display of customer account information and contact history, providing staff with the information they need to respond quickly and effectively.
- Increasing availability - Downtime can adversely affect revenue and can reduce profitability through costs associated with the network staff having to troubleshoot and function in a reactive mode. High availability depends on carefully planned redundancy, sound security, and scalability and also requires diligence throughout the network lifecycle.
Cisco leads the market in India in terms of routers and switches, but also has a unique offering that takes Cisco beyond being a technology vendor to also engaging customers and acting as a technology consultant. Through Cisco Services, what we bring to our customers is a top-level consulting service that aids in identifying the right network/application solution that addresses their current needs based on their unique requirements, while also being scalable to address foreseeable growth and expansion of the business.
Network Lifecycle Approach
Cisco Services aligns with the customer with a clear plan of action throughout the Network Lifecycle, which includes the preparation, planning, design, implementation, operation and optimization phases. This helps companies to accelerate their success with advanced technologies, to improve their network’s business value and return on investment, and prepare for future growth.
We also have some solution packs that are made available to our customers, which are especially beneficial to the SMB segment, namely SMARTnet and Smart Care. Cisco’s SMARTnet solution is an award-winning technical support service that offers direct, anytime access to Cisco engineers and an extensive range of technical resources. This allows for rapid issue resolution, flexible device-by-device coverage, and premium service options to help maximize operational efficiency.
Cisco’s Smart Care, on the other hand, is a comprehensive network-wide service that offers proactive network monitoring, health check-ups, diagnostics and software repairs in addition to technical support for a customer’s entire Cisco network in a single contract. The key avenues in which Smart Care can benefit a business are:
- Verifies that the network is secure and efficient
- Delivers dashboard visibility into network performance
- Provides information to better manage and improve customer networks
- Reduces the time and effort necessary to keep networks running optimally
- Allows customers to foresee potential problems before they impact business
- Offers the combined advantage of Cisco and its partners in a single service offering
The key to Cisco’s success in the SMB market is that Cisco does things differently, seeking to deliver technology that has value within it -- everything expected of Cisco from the depth of technology to service richness, but the complexity is completely abstracted out. Cisco is also committed to ensuring that the technology is consumable in this space--easier to use, install and operate, yet retain all Cisco value.
Companies can't afford to be reactive to network problems, and Smart Care enables partners to offer ‘proactive’ services - verifying network performance, for example, on an ongoing basis. In the nine months Smart Care has been piloted, partners have identified new service opportunities - with 60% of customer equipment being uncovered by service contracts. In addition, 60% of the customers that went through a network security assessment had previously undetected vulnerabilities.
Cisco Services also provides consulting in Technical, Advanced and Advisory services, enabling Cisco to engage at an implementation level of consulting, as well as at high-level, recommending direction and scalability plans over a number of years.
Today, the emerging industry verticals are showing increasing rates of technology adoption - manufacturing, healthcare, retail, automotive, and IT-enabled services are key focus SMB verticals for Cisco. This growth is driven by changes in the competitive landscape for each of these sectors. Currently, these sectors are opening up to more and more competitors and existing players need to emerge on par with their global counterparts on all fronts.
Cisco recently unveiled a multi-pronged strategic roadmap to tap the rapidly growing market for IT and networking requirements of Small and Medium Businesses in India. The strategy includes focusing on new customised SMB products/solutions, as well as financing schemes like the recently launched Easy Lease program for SMBs. To increase awareness of its products and programs among these businesses, Cisco will continue to invest heavily in partner enablement and the hugely popular ‘Network on Wheels’ campaign, among others.
Senior VP - Customer Advocacy
Cisco - India & SAARC