Amidst exit of some senior executives in last five month, global network solutions giant Cisco is likely to announce the name of its new India and SAARC president today. The incumbent, Dinesh Malkani, had put his papers early this month and his term is ending today. According to reports, the company has conducted an internal and external search for Malkani’s replacement and now it is ready to make the announcement any time soon.
The next in line—VC Gopalratnam, SVP-IT and CIO-International, Cisco, Nal Gollagunta, Managing Director, Commercial Sales, Cisco India & SAARC and Sanjay Kaul, Managing Director, Service Provider Business, Cisco India & SAARC are few probable but according to one analyst Cisco is likely to hire somebody from outside or may be someone from global team will get the top job in India.
Over the past few years, demand for Cisco executives from multinational firms to handle their India’s operation have significantly increased. In last two years, dozens of Cisco’s senior executive have left the networking firm to lead multinational corporations such as Symantec, McAfee, Polycom, Red Hat, Prysm and Palo Alto Networks businesses in India.
However, the departure of some senior executives in last five month have been mired in controversy. In April, Puneet Gupta, Managing Director, Enterprise & Public Sector Sales at Cisco India & SAARC exited the company after he got implicated in two fraudulent deals worth Rs 300 crore and Rs 2,000 crore involving the Army, BSNL and Cisco.
In November last year, The Quint had published a report alleging Rs 300 crore scam involving BSNL and Cisco. The report alleged a “nexus between Cisco and BSNL Enterprise Business, which “conspired” to create an unfair advantage for the multinational firm”. The government has referred this case to CVC and its advice is being awaited. Subsequent to this expose, the Quint also published a story that Army, BSNL, Cisco allegedly partner in 2,000 crore scam.
According to reports, the two cases are also under investigation internally by Cisco US and India officials and currently 53 such cases of corruption involving the company and public sector entities are also being investigated by the same officials.
After Gupta’s exit Cisco split the Enterprise & Public Sector Sales role and appointed two separate heads for Enterprise and Public Sector. One of them – Gaurav Agarwal who led the Public Sector left the company last month and joined Symantec as Managing Director, Sales, India and SAARC.
In addition to Malkani, today is the last working day for Cisco’s head of Corporate Communications, Asia Pacific and Japan (Interim) Thomas Cherian, who is on the way to become the first employee of Netflix in India. Netflix is the world’s top video streaming service that allows users to watch content on screens ranging from a smartphones to a smart television. Since, it’s launched last year, it is getting decent traction in India.
Malkani departure is happening at a time when Cisco is betting big on Digital India and Smart Cities projects and there is new wave in telecom sector lead by Reliance Jio. According to PTI, the company is engaged in 50 digitisation projects and is working with six states on various digitisation initiatives. Under Malkani’s leadership, Cisco India was aiming for net revenue targets of $2 billion in FY 2018 and $5 billion in FY 2020.
For the new leader, in addition to fixing the house in order, the priority would be to accelerate the focus on government and telecom verticals which have been driving the growth. Like their global counterparts, Indian enterprise and small medium businesses (SMBs) are looking for flexible consumption model and easy to do solutions. For example, some of them would like to use or integrate Spark like Skype – can Cisco India enable this.
The challenge of competition from new age companies will continue, so does the Cisco edge – Cisco is the leader in network security, virtualization, cloud computing, routers, switches, WLAN and other advance network devices and technologies. Cisco holds the largest market share in enterprise networking. Cisco owns a 60 percent market share in routers and switching, making it one of the largest and if it could explain the software capabilities of last month introduced – ‘Network Intuitive’ – which promised to make mundane network more agile, secure and open for innovation, it will further add dollars to its kitty.
So, there is lot of opportunities and challenges awaiting for Cisco’s new India and SAARC president.