While there were some initial challenges, a lot of our customers adapted well and are looking at permanently moving to a hybrid work model.
Sameer Garde, President, Cisco-India & Saarc
As consumers become increasingly digital, the old battlegrounds, where competition stayed within industry walls with a dominant few, will be lost, says Sameer Garde, president, Cisco—India & Saarc. “Competition is becoming fluid across industries, where a winner-takes-all dynamic comes into play due to the network effects of digital technology platforms,” he tells Sudhir Chowdhary in a recent interview.Excerpts:
What are some of the changes in companies that were born in Covid but promise to continue for longer? The way we work and do business has changed dramatically, and many of these changes will become permanent. These changes have triggered a massive and rapid shift to remote/hybrid operations and automation, forcing a transition to an everything-as-a-service consumption model. Today, businesses, both big and small, are looking at creating a digital version of their business model, where everything is cloud-managed or cloud-delivered.
Many customers that I speak to are re-examining their investments. They are focused on transforming their IT towards software-defined and intent-driven infrastructure and are reimagining their applications to enhance the experience. Considering the changes in the workplace, they are empowering their employees to collaborate seamlessly, from anywhere and any device, and lastly, and more importantly, as they go digital, data security is taking centre-stage.
What do these changes imply from a long-term perspective for businesses? Leaders, both government and business, are more willing to disrupt themselves by taking new risks and trade familiarity in favour of agility and resilience. The recent reform by the government in enabling a hybrid work environment is a great example. This will enhance the productivity and competitiveness of the Indian IT industry, bring more investment to India, increase the ease of doing business and encourage job creation, especially in smaller towns.
How well are your customers prepared for the work-from-home scenario? While there were some initial challenges, a lot of our customers adapted well and are looking at permanently moving to a hybrid work model. To enable this at scale, our customers are increasing their investments in both on and off-premise cybersecurity, collaboration tools and technologies that allow virtual seamless and secure communication between dispersed teams, and data analytics to gain insight and visibility into a highly distributed workforce.
How has the demand for Webex increased during pandemic times? We have seen a massive increase in Webex usage in the last few months, with India having recorded the second-highest usage outside of the US. On average, over the last seven months, we have had over 12.5 million meetings per month, with over 100 million participants in India. In fact, we are witnessing an increase in usage (13.5 million meetings and 115 million participants), indicating the trend is here to stay.
In addition, Webex trials have crossed 4 million signups for India over the last six months. Some of the highest signups have been from banking and finance, ITeS, public sector, pharmaceuticals, education, healthcare, and small businesses.
How do you ensure Cisco Webex is secure? Cisco is the largest enterprise security vendor and has the most comprehensive security product portfolio today. We have leveraged our security expertise to ensure that Webex users, devices, and meetings are protected end-to-end. Recognising the varied collaboration needs for different sectors, we have recently announced key enhancements and variations of Cisco Webex, catering specifically to the needs of educators, legislators, and government bodies with customised security features.
For example, for the government sector, we have Webex Legislate, which is a purpose-built cloud solution that enables remote and hybrid legislative bodies to convene safely and securely. It meets the highly specialised requirements of India’s judicial system and allows policymakers and legislators to keep serving citizens through a trusted collaboration experience.
How is Cisco collaborating with governments to fight Covid-19? We have enabled business continuity for over 200 government organisations across 26 state and central government entities and helped them stay connected and collaborate securely and seamlessly. We have also helped over 100 district courts and high courts to conduct proceedings seamlessly and safely. In April 2020, we set up a War Room at the ministry of health, New Delhi, for GIS depiction of pandemic hotspots across India to synchronise cross-departmental efforts aimed at containing the pandemic and managing the response.
We have been working with startups and other partners to support frontline healthcare efforts at this time. In Gujarat, we have connected over 80 government hospitals that are using Webex.