With digitization and other emerging trends opening up several doors for growth, the challenge for Cisco Inc. now is to digitally revolutionize critical areas of the economy to capture frontier opportunities, Daisy Chittilapilly, President, Cisco India and SAARC, said in a recent interaction.
According to Chittilapilly, who took over her current role in July, as India becomes home to one of the largest internet-enabled citizens, building a robust, secure network infrastructure is a top priority for Cisco. Second, in addition to building the internet of the future based on silicon, Cisco has committed to "help create 5G networks over the next three years, working with India’s leading telecom service providers to bring the benefits of the internet to everyone", she said.
Third, Cisco is focusing on digitally transforming small businesses, agriculture, manufacturing, education, and healthcare, working with government agencies and industry bodies to enhance access, profitability, and productivity across these sectors. For instance, 25,000 SMBs are using Cisco's technology to future-proof themselves and Cisco aims to digitize over 1.5 million SMBs.
"We are also working with Kerala State IT Mission to bring smart agriculture (IoT sensors, data stores, etc.) to their paddy and shrimp farmers. Similarly, we have partnered with some of the largest Indian seaports and inland waterways, including Visakhapatnam, Deendayal Port, Kolkata Port, etc., to improve efficiency and optimize resources," Chittilapilly said.
Last but not the least, to transform India into a Digital Talent Nation, Cisco is helping train learners in emerging technologies through our Networking Academy program. "We have trained 900,000 learners since inception, 30% of whom are women," Chittilapilly said.
Security is another focus area for Cisco. According to Chittilapilly, the state of digital security has never been more pertinent to business success, agnostic of sector or size. For instance, in 2021, cyber-attacks cost Indian SMBs 3.5 crore on average. According to CERT, 1.2 million incidents were observed till October 21 in India, of which 32,000 were related to the government.
"In this scenario, security must be built-in, not bolted on. All businesses are expected to become digital to some extent, so we are focusing on helping our customers develop cloud-ready strategies across five key areas: Continuity, Insights, Security, Connectivity, and Operations," Chittilapilly said.
"Cisco is also rebalancing its R&D investments to focus on critical areas that will position us well for the future, like cloud security; cloud collaboration; key enhancements for education, healthcare, etc.; increased automation in the enterprise; the future of work; and application insights and analytics," according to Chittilapilly.
This, even as the company is continuing to focus on technologies like multi-cloud investment, 5G and Wi-Fi 6, optical networking, next-gen silicon, and artificial intelligence (AI).
"These investments are defining the next phase of growth for Cisco, and we are well-positioned to capture the opportunities ahead of us. Most importantly, we are excited to leverage our technology to create a better, more equitable, and sustainable world for India’s businesses and communities," Chittilapilly said.
To be sure, Chittilapilly acknowledged that like other technology vendors, the last 18 months have not been a smooth ride for Cisco as well. The company continues to battle supply chain problems and higher costs brought on by the semiconductor shortage.
Research firm Gartner recently noted that the worldwide semiconductor shortage is expected to recover to normal levels only by the second quarter of 2022. Meanwhile, the semiconductor shortage will continue to "severely disrupt the supply chain and constrain the production of many electronic equipment types", it added.
According to Chittilapilly, Cisco’s team has been taking proactive measures to mitigate the impact of these supply constraints. "We have come a long way in 2021, and there is a lot to be hopeful for. However, there are challenges ahead, especially around supply chain issues. We continue to face component shortages impacting businesses across every industry, and ours is no different. While it is challenging, we have the best team in the world focused on this and doing everything they can to help us and our customers through it," she concluded.