Tapping expanding opportunities with our partners

R.Dhamodharan, Regional Manager, Channels, Cisco India


According to the global research firm IDC, IT spending in India is set to grow the fastest in the world in 2008. And as the information&communications technology market in Asia-Pacific reaches $154 billion in 2008, IDC further says that India and China will contribute half the total IT spend by next year. Hence, the opportunities before us are huge and by growing and energizing the market we can further India's meteoric rise in the global marketplace.

For Cisco in India, the coming year will see us focus on driving innovation both internally, with our partners, and externally. We will also direct our resources/energies toward disruptive solutions for the Indian market. In the future we will also further our reach deeper into India - beyond the Tier II and Tier III markets - into areas such as rural banking, connected agriculture, healthcare, and retail.

Abundant opportunities

There has been significant acceleration in the growth rate of the Indian economy over the last few years and indicators seem to point at growth and development on many fronts. An important highlight in 2007 was the broad-based nature of the growth story. While new economy industries such as information technology and biotechnology grew at around 30 per cent, old economy sectors such as agriculture and steel were also major contributors to the growth process. With the manufacturing and service sectors on a searing growth path, Lehman Brothers Asia estimates India to grow by as much as 10 per cent every year in the next decade.

Today, there are opportunities everywhere: malls in major Indian cities are expected to grow six times by 2010; office space required by India IT outsourcing is 55 M sqm in five years. And growth is not restricted to our metros alone - studies reveal that India's broadband subscriber base stands at 2.21 million (as of February 2007) and it is envisioned to touch 20 million by 2010; construction is booming in Tier II and III cities; currently laptop sales comprise 20% of total PC sales in India and is growing at about 86% per annum.

Hence, it is easy to see that the overall mood and outlook for the market is upbeat and the demand drivers for technology are coming from everywhere, be it large enterprises, small and medium businesses, service providers, IT services, retail, manufacturing, government, education, infrastructure, banking and finance, telecom and more.

Some key trends in IT consumption

Going forward, we are likely to see considerable traction in the next level of communication trends. Enterprises will increase their adoption of wireless connectivity and IP-based solutions will enable companies to deploy key services such as videoconferencing, collaboration and other value-added options. Cisco is and will be working closely with its partners to educate and grow the market.

In addition, Cisco and its partners will also focus on aiding customers climb up the value chain from more foundational technologies (such as routing and switching) to advanced technologies (such as security, wireless, Unified Communication, Application Networking Services, optical etc). In particular, Unified Communications (UC) has generated a lot of excitement in our partner community. In fact, the number of partners offering UC to customers in India has more than doubled in the past year and partners offering UC today depicts a good mix (large players, Systems Integrators, and Tier II partners). We have also observed an increase in the strength of partners specializing in the wireless/mobility and security domains.

With business communications getting more complex, creating an effective communication environment for mobile personnel and distributed workgroups has become a critical business issue. Against this backdrop, UC has been revolutionizing communication across various businesses in India - newer industries (such as IT, retail etc) as well as the traditional ones (such as manufacturing, banking, finance etc). Furthermore, today UC presents the opportunity to partners to create industry specific solutions that can generate their own IPR around UC technologies/solutions.

Moving forward, a trend that is increasing in importance is the focus on compliance. With companies catering to global customers, data privacy concerns, government/legal regulations, end-customer compliance imperatives, listing compulsions and for competitive differentiation compliance will assume tremendous significance. However, recent research indicates that the level of compliance programme implementations in India is lower than the APAC average of 42 per cent. This will be a huge market as future uptake looks extremely promising.

Another trend that has already been set in motion is the movement of businesses to Tier II and III cities. The shortage of talent, rapidly rising wages will prompt some companies to look at locations other than the Indian metros to sustain and grow their businesses. The appreciation of the rupee will also play a part in this movement to Tier II and III cities. Exporters and players in the IT/ITeS sector will see a squeeze in their margins and will have to look for ways to hedge against future appreciation. Thus, businesses have to look at harnessing technology to increase productivity, work toward more cost effective infrastructure, and also use a strong network to tap talent in Tier II and III cities.

Technology can play a significant role in wrestling with critical issues such as productivity, rising wage costs, skills shortage, enhanced customer interactions etc. Cisco along with the channel community can play a large role by acting as trusted advisor and helping such businesses benefit from technology.

Enabling our channel community

Thus, the future is exciting for our channel partners and us. Cisco's focus in 2008 is enhanced engagement with partners as business consultants and helping them grow their business profitably. Furthermore, we will be working on partner enablement via various programmes and initiatives and their understanding of the business relevance of deploying Cisco's technologies. The formulation of partner programmes and ensuring customer satisfaction through audits and partner surveys will also be areas of focus.

We believe the above programmes and initiatives will help in the enablement and growth of our channel partners so they can tap the remarkable opportunities that the Indian marketplace has to offer today.

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