NewsPartner Corner

With the Partners All the Way

Panish PK, Director, Partner Business Group, Cisco India and SAARC

Cisco helps partners address their customer needs with a bevy of integrated solutions, flexible consumption and service options, and reduced time to value, regardless of changes in the marketscape

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“Successfully leading customers through a digital transformation requires that partners continually transform themselves by investing in emerging technologies and expertise that reinforce their status as a trusted digital advisor.”

Panish PK,
Director, Partner Business Group,
Cisco India and SAARC

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As we come to brace with the Pandemic-triggered massive shift to online operations and a hitherto unheard of scale of adoption to remote working and resultant cloud migration, this has given way to digitalisation on an unprecedented scale. These also sprang forth higher demands for safer, secure and more robust and agile connectivity.

With rising stress on IT infrastructure, businesses have realized the importance of embracing robust networking solutions to avoid bad glithces in operations. They are increasingly investing on strengthening their Networking and other IT infrastructure to ensure flawless connectivity. This has thrown open a big opportunity for networking and other players.

As the India market remains in the eye of a major digital transformation buoyed by a tech-centred Union Budget,  we have tried to bring to the channel community the  voice of one of the leading players in the global as well as Indian markets.

Here, in a special interaction with SME Channels, Panish PK, Director, Partner Business Group, Cisco India and SAARC, reveals his organization’s strategy to address growing demand for robust Networking solutions from customers, his predictions for the Networking industry, major challenges facing the Networking market, and his vision and plans for the channel community. Edited excerpts…

What are the major market trends you see emerging in 2022?

The last two years have been a true roller coaster. Between the waves of the pandemic, from the home office, return to office, now hybrid work, and the global supply chain impacting virtually every industry, we have been tested in many ways we never expected nor imagined in both our personal and business lives. Yet through it all, we’ve managed to grow stronger and more resilient. To seize the opportunities of 2022, it’s crucial to identify the technology transitions taking shape and how they will impact innovation and experience.

Tech consumption Inching towards cloud & SaaS

Tech consumption is changing towards cloud and software “As-a-service” (aaS) models continue gaining momentum throughout the technology stack. It offers the flexibility, cost-savings, and ease of use that organizations across sectors and sizes are looking for. At Cisco, we have transitioned a majority of our portfolio to be delivered as a service and accelerating innovation across areas like cloud-delivered cybersecurity, collaboration, analytics, etc.

Security must be at the heart of digital transformation

Last year threw a lot at cybersecurity teams, from the emergence of several high-profile cyberattacks to the revelation of widespread vulnerabilities. As we traverse through 2022, organizations should focus on building a stronger cloud-based, integrated, and well-automated architecture that is agile and intelligent when it comes to threat remediation, visibility, and management of distributed users and applications.

5G to be the greatest enabler for new business models

It will help businesses unlock the true potential of digitization and will open up a new world of possibilities for every industry. According to McKinsey, implementing faster connections in mobility, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail can increase global GDP by $1.2 – $2 trillion by 2030

Customer experience will be the biggest differentiator

An ever-evolving list of new customer requirements fuelled by digital transformation goals is now being embraced by every industry and segment. Today customer experience is much more – it’s about delighting the customer with a combination of immersive, intelligence-based personalization and experience that will trigger a lasting impact on customers’ perception of trust and loyalty.

As our customers and partners prepare to start operations in this new digital world, we at Cisco are committed and well-positioned to help them navigate any disruptions. In the last two years, we have learnt that together there is more we can and must do. We make the technologies that empower businesses, and we have a global scale through our partners to effect change.

What major trends are you forecasting in the channel market?

Successfully leading customers through a digital transformation requires that partners continually transform themselves by investing in emerging technologies and expertise that reinforce their status as a trusted digital advisor. The trends that we are seeing in the channel market are around – firstly, business models & the channel ecosystem transformation. The emergence of marketplaces empowers more businesses to explore a range of offerings while reducing the overall cost and complexity of traditional channel sales. Rather than mastering one specialty, partners are becoming technology providers who can offer a range of solutions along with their in-depth expertise. Secondly, in today’s digital-first world, migration to a multi-cloud architecture is imperative, as the number of benefits of transitioning to cloud models surpasses the challenges. Today, organizations are looking for ways to leverage hyperscale cloud computing while exploring agile models around consumption and usage.

Thirdly, strengthening the existing cybersecurity architecture because an attack can negatively impact an organization’s reputation and result in a loss of customer trust. According to Cisco Security Outcomes Study 2022, nearly 60% of companies in India are expanding their investments in cloud-based security technology plans. Lastly, improving the application experience with deep network visibility. The total application experience is dependent on the performance of all the components of applications and network connections acting in concert. Automation and Deep Network Visibility is the foundation of a network and security operating model that ensures application experience and trust.

The global pandemic has forced businesses to significantly adapt how they operate and where their employees work, prompting massive technological transformation across the board. For channel partners, this has led to a new level of service requirements as they help businesses navigate, survive, and thrive in this new reality. As the IT spending in 2022 is expected to grow bigger, the channel market foresees a greater opportunity in 2022.

How does Cisco leverage Next-Gen Techs like AI and ML to address the networking needs of its customers?

The explosion of application workloads and services that need to be accessed by mobile endpoints are increasingly distributed across data centers, private and public clouds, and co-locations—all the way to the edge. To effectively manage these connections at scale adds tremendous responsibility to the IT teams. IT needs to reimagine network management using Artificial Intelligent and Machine Learning (AI/ML) tools for network event correlation and efficient troubleshooting to improve operational agility.

Therefore, at Cisco, we have integrated AI and ML across our portfolio, with a focus on improving uptimes, predicting and preventing failures proactively, gaining deeper insight and visibility into operations, improving the security posture, and enriching the customer experience.

Our NetOps teams have adopted AI-enabled network analytics and assurance systems to achieve – more accurate detection of issues, faster remediation, automated policy management, fewer degradations, and better peer intelligence that can help compare their network performance to industry benchmarks. With ThousandEyes integration with Cisco Catalyst 9000 switches and Cisco SD-WAN, NetOps can pinpoint specific trouble spots inside and outside the enterprise network and initiate remedies to mitigate performance impacts before they cause damage to the business. We also have the Cisco DNA Center that can identify unknown endpoints through AI Endpoint Analytics and then use various contextual sources to group them logically. This data is then used by IT to develop scalable and automated policies.

Which areas are you focusing on in the channel – skillsets, sales and marketing, vertical and technology practice development, service capability, etc.?

In today’s hyperconnected world, it’s no longer about simply selling a single architecture or a single solution. It’s about getting customers to their business outcomes faster. No matter how customers evolve or how the market landscape changes, we are committed to supporting our partners to meet their customer needs with integrated solutions, flexible consumption and service options, and reduced time to value. Moreover, partners that have already built their as-a-service practice can scale and accelerate via underlying Cisco platforms and APIs and offer innovation. Others who are still on the journey can choose to sell & support our solutions.

We also have the Partner Experience Platform (PXP), Cisco’s first digital platform designed for partners for all the resources they need to perform and transform. PXP gives our partners easy access to critical insights and helps them be agile and add value to their customer relationships. All in one place, from tracking their performance, incentives and gaining a deeper knowledge of their customer to other events, training, support options, and connecting with subject matter experts. At Cisco, we believe our partner ecosystem is our biggest asset. We want to give our partners more freedom to differentiate and transform across the dimensions of their Cisco business.

What percentage of budget growth are you expecting for channel development?   

While I can’t share exact numbers, India has been one of the consistent growth markets for Cisco. With Covid pushing forward the digital agenda of companies and changing technology market dynamics, we expect an upward projectile growth in terms of business revenues.

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