Cisco Systems – Digitizing the World
The world is changing, and Cisco Systems is the company at the forefront of that change.
While often the business of tech companies is complex enough that what they actually do can be impenetrable to a layperson with Cisco Systems it is refreshingly simple.
“Cisco Systems is a company that is responsible for building the infrastructure of what we call the internet and digital architectures that help create enormous value for all sorts of business verticals by digitizing them and making them agile and efficient,” says Sanjay Kaul, President-Asia Pacific & Japan, Service Provider Business at Cisco. “We’ve been focused on innovating at the cutting edge ensuring we are ahead of innovation demand. It started with building up the foundation for internet/ intranet some three decades ago, today up to 70% of the world’s IP traffic running through Cisco IP gear. Over the years, Cisco has diversified into many domains e.g. Data Centres, Mobility, Collaboration, Compute, e2e Security, SDN/NFVi, Cloud, on top next-generation routing and switching. We have solutions for cloud computing, AI/ML, enterprise and service provider edge, front and back-haul. We offer complete end-to-end security solutions with world-class cybersecurity expertise that monitors internet traffic all over the world, detects and pro-actively addresses millions of threats on a daily basis. Cisco is in a sweat-spot in terms of digital architectures for Enterprises and Service providers.
Indeed, the more we talk to Kaul, the clearer it becomes that Cisco is laying the groundwork for the digital future.
“All in all I would say, Cisco is responsible for keeping the Internet and Internet of Things and 5G technology working, and those three elements come together to continue digitising the world,” he tells us.
Staying Ahead of the Curve
However, while the world is becoming more digital, the marketplace is becoming more competitive, and Cisco Systems needs to set itself apart if it is going to continue to succeed at the levels it has done so far.
“Our unique selling point has three dimensions,” Kaul explains. “For industry, it is about creating value with the most efficient methods and tools through digitization, irrespective of which industry you’re in. For consumers, they’re getting value for their buck when they’re spending on ICT plus telecom together. For a larger society, we’re a responsible company that believes in giving back. One tangible way we do this is through our global net academies which are set up to train millions of students, future tech staff to be ready to help drive the digital and connected world.
The biggest challenge, Kaul tells us, is keeping up with just how rapidly the digital sector is expanding.
“I told you the breadth of the domains we are in. It’s a pretty broad range of portfolios,” he acknowledges. “Fundamentally for our business, the more digitalization is happening in the world for big businesses, small business, the more there is for us to do. Everyone is going digital, which means the fundamental basis of what we do will continue to grow. We’re putting a lot of energy into new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI/ML), Cloud, Edge etc. making sure we’re ready for that new era.”
The Smartest Person in the Room
For Kaul, keeping ahead means always acting as if the competition is snapping at your heels.
“We always believe we’re under threat!” he says. “That’s how the culture runs. We always feel there’s someone else who’s going to be smarter than you and take your core market. So we need constant innovation and a huge focus on creating that next big thing, and that keeps us getting better.”
That’s the key, not acting as if you’re the smartest person in the room, but finding the smartest person in the room and benefiting from what they know. This is reflected in the way Cisco collaborates with its customers.
“Our larger customers are our partners and are helping to build the future with us. We work with the entire eco-system and are constantly on the hunt for the next big thing,” Kaul says. “Innovation is about creating new things but it is also about finding who has done something more effectively than you and integrating them into your eco-system. That’s how we remain the dominant player in our chosen field.”
Of course, sometimes the smartest person in the room is somebody within the company or someone who can be recruited into it, and that’s why finding and taking care of great talent is a key priority for Cisco Systems.
Of course, finding that talent means recognising that it can come from anywhere.
“We take diversity very seriously. It doesn’t matter what age, class, creed or colour you are if you’re talented you get in,” Kaul says. “We always engage with top universities and business schools, hiring people before they’re ready to be hired, selling our brand and what we can offer to them. That’s how we address recruitment and make sure we have the best people.”
Once talent is recruited, Cisco takes good care of them, investing in their training and career, but also their health. Talking to Kaul it’s clear he’s particularly proud of the steps the company has taken to look after the mental health of its employees.
“It’s so shocking when you see the impact mental health issues can have, and by tackling it the benefit is so huge,” he says. “We’re giving employees the opportunity to disclose mental health issues, and turning that into an opportunity to make sure we’re treating the issue right. Our employees believe that they’re being taken care of.”
The end result is a team that is ready for the next stage of digital evolution, with consequences that will have a huge impact across a wide range of industries.
“I think the world is going digital. If you take the monolithic industries there are still some steps to go. Healthcare for instance. As an industry, there are huge regulatory challenges in terms of how to treat people’s data. We believe that with digitalisation and AI in the mix we can create huge value for the health sector in terms of predictability. The health industry is just one example. We can also help almost all vertical industries in their respective digitals missions e.g. we can turn the mining industry into digital, we can turn factories into smart factories,” Kaul says. “With smart factories, we are saving the cost of production by up to 49%. You can apply this to any industry. With our coming technologies, we can create huge value which can be shared with the value chain hence creating win-win-win for all parties.”