Knowledge Network

Challenges and opportunities for channels in BFSI, manufacturing and other segments

Avinash Purwar, Vice President, Channels, Cisco India & SAARC

From family-owned stores to large hospitals, universities and banks, today's businesses face myriad challenges. In order to compete in an increasingly global market they have to improve operational efficiency, lower costs and increase revenue despite budget and staffing constraints and still keep up with the rapid pace of change in available technologies. India positioned with 9% GDP growth and with forecasts that indicate continued growth, businesses are looking at global opportunities that can be tapped and ways to overcome operational challenges to meet those business goals. Companies are looking to use technology as a business differentiator as well. IT spends have increased and Gartner estimates that in India, verticals such as Manufacturing, Retail, Healthcare and Education together will spend approximately US 6202.1 million dollars by 2009.

Thus, whether it is large organizations or small and medium businesses - IT is being embraced in a significant way. And it is the role played by the channel partners of large IT players that will largely determine how well and efficiently the needs of these businesses in India are being addressed. There are multiple categories of channel partners, including value added resellers, service providers, systems or network integrators, independent software vendors, and IT consultants each offering different areas of expertise. Depending on your project, you may need a partner that specializes in one or more areas, or one that offers a broader range of services and can bring in other niche partners as needed. In any case, it is important to choose an organization that can demonstrate that it has completed similar projects in the past or, even better, has provided exceptional service to clients in your own industry.

Cisco's go-to-market strategy is via channel partners and we have established presence in over one hundred India cities through 1500 resellers. Channel partners often bring helpful experience and insight to technology deployments and it is by listening carefully to them that new products and solutions can successfully be designed to address diverse and evolving needs. Network technology is rapidly changing and creating new demands by businesses of all stripes. In response, Cisco is constantly updating its industry-leading channel partner programs to help the company's most important sales force - its channel partners. In addition, Cisco has customized its products and solutions to meet vertical-specific requirements that could help businesses build an innovative, competitive and productive organization. For instance- Enterprises in Infrastructure, Retail and Healthcare verticals can differentiate their business by implementing technology solutions such as Cisco Connected Real Estate (CCRE), Intelligent Retail Network (IRN), Medical Grade Network respectively. Cisco also believes in the enablement and readiness of channel partners through constant updation of required skills and expertise. Finally, it has always been Cisco's endeavor to ensure profitability for all channel partners.

Organizations that operate in spaces like BFSI, Manufacturing, Infrastructure, Education and Healthcare have unique needs and are leveraging networking technologies to enhance productivity and profitability. In order to fuel the current growth conditions Cisco India offers an array of products, software, services and financing specifically designed to help channel partners tap the vast Indian market. It is the interplay between customers, channel partners and IT players that will ensure success for all.

Importance of partnering with channels
The small and medium sized business market has become the IT industry's fastest growing segment. With this trend comes a heightened demand from customers for knowledgeable networking professionals who can successfully design and deploy SMB-specific solutions. This is especially true in the SMB market where customers rely heavily on their partners as trusted advisors.

Oftentimes smaller businesses want the benefits that advanced networking equipment can give them, but they often lack the expertise and resources to successfully implement today's more complex technologies. Cisco's channel partners are a great source for helping customers do just that, but these organizations need tools and services that make their marketing, sales and support jobs as efficient and effective as possible. There are multiple categories of channel partners, including value added resellers, service providers, systems or network integrators, independent software vendors, and IT consultants. And they offer different areas of expertise. Depending on your project, you may need a partner that specializes in one or more areas, or one that offers a broader range of services and can bring in other niche partners as needed. In any case, it's important to choose an organization that can demonstrate that it has completed similar projects in the past or, even better, has provided exceptional service to clients in your own industry.

As customers' needs increase and applications become more intricate, it becomes imperative that IT companies provide their channel partners with a consistent, repeatable approach that includes the critical deliverables, tools, and training required. This becomes especially relevant and critical in emerging markets such as ours. For example, in India we see how the industry is evolving and networks are increasing in complexity; this in turn increases customer reliance on our channel partners. Our partners are now required to become trusted advisors to their customers, and need to be viewed as the specialists in successfully selling to, delivering to, and supporting their customer base. Thus, it is imperative that Cisco partners be able to implement solutions with understanding and precision across multiple technologies and multiple industries.

Cisco's go-to-market strategy is via channel partners and has established presence in over one hundred India cities through one thousand five hundred resellers. Channel partners often bring helpful experience and insight to technology deployments and it is by listening carefully to them that new products and solutions can successfully be designed to address diverse needs. Network technology is rapidly changing and creating new demands by businesses and organizations of all stripes. In response, Cisco is constantly updating its industry-leading channel partner programs to help the company's most important sales force, its channel partners, develop the skills and expertise they need to thrive.

The world is changing for our partners
Today more and more customers are demanding integrated technology skills breadth, technology skills depth, and a full life cycle services approach to implement sophisticated technologies and business solutions. Partners must maximize productivity and growth by being able to efficiently scale capability and capacity, enter new markets, and develop repeatable business practices.
Hence, partner enablement is a key area of focus at Cisco. To change customer and partner needs and help partners capture this dynamic growth environment that pervades the Indian market today. The focus of our partner enablement is to provide training, partner programs, sales tools, delivery tools, and sales and marketing help and tools.

Today, we can see growth in all sectors around us - manufacturing growth rate is estimated at 11.3 per cent; financial institutions are rapidly increasing their footprints into rural India; bank credit rate grew by 29 per cent during the first ten months of 06-07; allocations on healthcare and education have increased tremendously; rapid construction of roads, seaports and airports; the services sector contributed as much as 68.6 per cent of the overall average growth in GDP in the last five years and more. It's a very exciting time for all and success will depend on how well IT players, their channel partners and customers work together with technology and take the India growth story to new levels.

 

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