Digital is not just about using IT, says VC Gopalratnam, senior vice-president (IT & CIO—international) and president—strategy, planning and operations, Cisco India. Any technology is digital today but the architecture that enable digital transformation are security, mobility, cloud, virtualisation, analytics and collaboration. “These are the fundamental architecture that will enable digital transformation,” he tells Sudhir Chowdhary in an interaction. Excerpts:
Every enterprise is talking about digital transformation. What does digital transformation mean to Cisco?
Everyone is familiar with competing in a physical world. Digital is not just about using IT. To understand what digital transformation means, the first aspect is to simplify our world. Over the years we have obviously had a lot of legacy processes which has actually made our life complicated and so we have to go about simplifying our world not only for employees but also for customers and partners. The second part is automation. It’s about having an infrastructure that is dynamic, flexible and scalable that can adjust to the demands of the business. The processes have to be re-engineered and automated, including the legacy ones. You shouldn’t automate before you simplify. The third part is use of data and analytics. All of our processes, transactions and interactions produce information. How do you make sense of the information, take your insights and apply it back into your processes to continue simplifying and automating them and continuously improving the programme? All this needs to be done in an agile way.
These things overlay the umbrella of security and make sure that security is embedded in your process in every interaction and transaction, etc. Those are the five steps of digital principles.
Which are the sectors that Cisco cater to in this transformation?
All of them—banking, financial services, healthcare, mining, transportation, manufacturing energy, etc. Cisco caters to every industry vertical in this transformation.
What services do you provide as part of digital services?
There were a lot of legacy systems which we cleaned up and made more streamlined The second part is that we sell collaborative capabilities to help drive simplification in the way you make decisions. So a lot of our collaborative technologies fall into simplification and automation software.
On the automation side, we sell infrastructure to our customers. We provide them management solutions which allow for ongoing automation of the infrastructure and the way they interact with their applications. We also provide analytics services as we have got the titration platform which essentially looks at infrastructure analytics. With the acquisition of App Dynamics now we have the ability to provide performance analytics.
Our security story is very holistic, right from protecting your cyber space to protecting the boundary of your enterprise and protecting multi cloud. We do this in a continuous fashion with ongoing innovation. We offer a broad suite of products and solutions.
What are the technologies needed for digital transformation?
It’s not as much technology. Any technology is digital today but the architecture that enable digital transformation are security, mobility, cloud, virtualisation, analytics, collaboration, etc. Those are the fundamental architecture that will enable digital transformation.
I think more so than the technologies themselves, there are two fundamental things that CIOs and organisations need to drive. The first one is change management. It is a completely new way of transforming your business and servicing your customers. This requires holistic, comprehensive change management which has to happen in all levels in any organisation for the digital transformation to be successful.
The second part of it is outsider thinking. You have to have focus on user experience. You can have the greatest technologies and the finest innovation but if it’s not easy to use and we call it easy to find, easy to choose, easy to use and easy to support, it won’t yield results.
What are the projects Cisco is doing with the government and private sector in India?
Connectivity is a major focus as the government is pushing broadband to different parts of the country. Cisco plays a key role in enabling that connectivity. We also work with service providers to drive connectivity. In several offices, we do both wired and wireless connectivity. We provide infrastructure for data centres, for branches, campuses, etc. We also provide collaboration technology. In security, we have physical surveillance or cyber security (firewalls, next-gen protection, threat detection and more). The same thing is translated into the private sector. The engagement is slightly different as we have to enable transactions that they do with their customers.
How do you perceive connectivity in terms of delivering seamless results to your customers in India?
Connectivity is the key. The world is moving towards a consumption model which is flexible—everyone wants to consume everything irrespective who is delivering the service or where the service is hosted. They are looking for good service quality, performance, cost and convenience. Without connectivity, you will not be able to meet the SLAs, and service delivery platform does not exist and therefore there would be no services rendered.
Many companies are changing their business model to XAAS (Everything as a Service). Will Cisco also place itself in this model in future?
Yes, I think so, if you look at how we talk to Wall Street and markets today, we are talking about our transition from hardware company to a solution company—a solution company that is enabled by services in software. As the world is demanding a flexible consumption model, that is inevitably how Cisco has to move. Hence you will see Cisco coming out with more and more capabilities for customers who are consuming that kind of service and on a recurring revenue model, which can be SAAS or consumption model or anything else that is moving towards XAAS model.