R Dhamodaran, Sr. Vice President, Channel Operations and Commercial Strategy, Cisco, India & SAARC
According to global research firm IDC, India and China will contribute to half the total IT spend in 2009, providing us with huge opportunities and I couldn’t agree more. If we focus on growing and energizing the market we can undoubtfully fuel India’s rise in the global economy. However, one must take into consideration the current economic scenario while mapping out a go-to-market strategy. At this point, the best solution is to concentrate on long-term goals despite the slowdown.
Before we look at the year ahead, it’s imperative that we take into account the trends that drove the IT industry over the last year. Some of the key issues that emerged were an increased adoption of the Unified Communications platform across sectors, and the emergence of virtualization and eco sustainability initiatives.
Unified Communications through its collaborative tools brought to life the age-old dream of an office-without-borders. The integration of data, voice and video with mobility over the network led to the development of technologies like TelePresence and digital media that greatly enhanced the collaborative experience. In addition, Unified Communications and its component technologies sped-up businesses on their road to going green, as carbon-heavy overheads were reduced.
Around the same time, we saw ourselves entering the second phase of the Internet - Web 2.0 which was characterized by its ability for people and companies to organize and categorize content, improve collaboration, open communication channels, and transform websites into computing platforms running full-fledged applications. As a result, the network became more intelligent and evolved to become a platform, not just for data traffic but also for all forms of media. Virtualization capabilities created "Cloud computing" as an emerging trend for enterprises interested in accessing and outsourcing data center compute resources. And as IT organizations morphed into a services management framework, virtualisation started playing a bigger role.
Going green was another important issue; companies fast realized that with the association of green technology came improved business productivity and a significant reduction in energy costs. Concepts such as alternate and renewable sources of energy, re-cycling, e-waste management, green architecture, green computing, green data centers, virtualisation, power management and reducing the corporate carbon footprint gained priority on corporate agendas.
Going forward, the prevailing economic conditions will most influence the adoption of IT in India. As the global economy slows down, and the macro economic situation continues to be challenging, companies will look for ways to trim spending and improve their bottom line. For now, India is still looking at steady economic growth, as compared to the US and Europe and the government is working with the industry to ensure that the impact is further reduced. Nonetheless, there are challenging times ahead and organisations will have to take a long-term view and embrace technology that will help them bring down costs while increasing productivity. 2009 will also see tremendous growth of the router and switching market in India, banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) and telecom service providers will be the key adopters in the market. Government is also likely to emerge as a big spender due to various e-governance and SWAN initiatives
Additionally, the value of information technology is moving from the edge of the network into the core. This means that the industry is seeing corresponding transition from transactional communications like phone calls and email to continuous collaborative experiences, similar to today’s social networking. Hence, not only will corporate now expect to be able to connect to everyone from everywhere through every device-they will expect it to be seamless, secure and simple.
As collaboration within and between firms worldwide accelerates, enabled by technology and a change in behavior, global cross-functional teams will create a virtual boundary-free workspace, collaborating across time zones to capture new opportunities created with customers and suppliers around the world. Although collaborative technologies and ‘Web 2.0’ have been around for many years, employing them through entire organizations will be made possible only by the intelligent network and as a result more investments will be made in building these networks.
Data Centre consolidation will also be high on every leader’s agenda, as it ensures optimal utilization of existing resources and assets. Virtualization will be inevitable because in the near future IT organisations will morph into more and more of a services management framework. And finally, wireless for last-mile connectivity in rural India and unwiring our cities will be another major focus for an emerging market like India.
Enabling our Channel Community
The future is exciting for our channel partners and us - In 2009 Cisco India will focus on driving innovation both internally, with partners and our customers. With this objective in mind, a change in organisational structure reflects our recent evolution to a product - solutions provider. This enables us to direct resources towards disruptive solutions for the Indian market. The Industry Business Council (IBC) is a result of this restructuring and helps drive business relevant solutions in sectors such as retail, manufacturing, financial services and government.
An important effort by us to expand and capture growth opportunities in the Small Business space has been the Linksys Connected Office Business Organization (COBO) into Cisco. This move has brought the Cisco and Linksys small business solutions together under a single distribution and channel partner strategy and given us greater market share.
For the coming year Cisco’s endeavour is to transform the customer experience by creating capacity for not just growth but also by accelerating partner and customer success. For Cisco this means creating a leading partner experience with innovative programmes, processes, and systems and ultimately building the world’s leading forward supply chain. With enhanced capabilities and services that elevate the customer experience our channel partners are set to become valued solutions providers and trusted advisors.
Moreover, as the network becomes the platform for all forms of communication and IT, it becomes increasingly important for us and the partner community to provide services that have the potential to integrate and optimize technologies. With Cisco’s future growth potentially coming from new or adjacent markets, our channels including our partners and our programmes are aiming to be more adaptive.
The global economic crisis must also be taken into account, the situation is very real and we are preparing to handle the slowdown. Staying closer to existing customers will be a priority because fewer market opportunities will lead to fierce competition. To this end investing in building the right skill sets to take on the upturn will provide us with competitive advantage. Another deal clincher will be converting capex into opex and, Cisco supports partners in their efforts to secure reliable credit, protect their profit margins and start building recurring revenue by offering them the benefits that come with leveraging Cisco Capital.
At Cisco we believe in catching market transitions early along with our partners, we also invest early to create technologies and solutions to get customer franchise through marquee customers. And our strategy and execution plans will be exactly in that direction. Today, as we focus on moving up the value chain by offering vertically relevant solutions instead of boxes and systems, enabling our partners transform into highly valued solutions providers is crucial.