An interview with Wayne Hull, Regional Sales Manager, Commercial GCC Cisco Systems

Mar 21 - 27, 2005




Would you kindly enlighten us about Cisco and its existence in Gulf and in Pakistan?

Since quite a few years now, Cisco exists in Gulf and is now scheduling to enter in the developing markets. We have benefited from our momentous presence in the Middle East with personnel force being more than 100 employees. We have an overall presence in over 150 countries and earn more than $9 billion in revenues whilst employing a staff of more than 40,000 employees.

Pakistan is a big and exciting opportunity for us. The company assists all sorts of client segments from high-end ventures to service providers of telecom and public sector, in addition to medium enterprises like real estate, hospitals and banking etc., and thus restrains a significant market share worldwide. Cisco is setting gears to enlarge its operations in Pakistan. Presently the firm is doing its business wordlessly in Pakistan for the last couple of years but now she is eager to amplify market share.

In the next twelve to eighteen months, Cisco plans to invest heavily in Pakistan in terms of technology and manpower. With control center based in Islamabad, Cisco is very fervent to tap the great potential in Pakistani market and is positive about the opportunities ahead.

What services Cisco is planning to offer in Pakistan?

We are planning to bring the full range of our products, from an entry-level infrastructure, which is our traditional routers and switches with value-added technology. We have meticulous focus around IP surroundings and have a number of clients in Lahore and in Karachi who are eager to investigate our value-added contributions and want to access technologies like security and storage utilized worldwide. In Pakistan, we go through our distributors and dealers who offer value-added services from their own for the clients.

Do you find the current government policies encouraging for Pakistan's business industry?

We are thrilled about the present management. Our Vice President and Country Manager visited Pakistan a couple of weeks ago and met with the Prime Minister and the Federal Minister for IT. There has been very prolific discussion about how Cisco could play a strategic role in the country's IT expansion. The country's IT policy supports both the government's and Cisco's philosophy. It has been a beautiful start.

What strategy will Cisco adopt to tackle with the existing competition?

Internationally, Cisco is a very flourishing company. The investment that will be done in Pakistan would be based on how we are in other parts of the world rather than trying to copy or follow some other troupes.

We will put the right type of people on the ground in Pakistan; people who have the knowledge of Pakistani market and have enough experience that can bring value to our clients, as we value intellectual assets. We have been in Pakistan for quite some time now and are escalating our aura here. We are bringing more people and are investing more in this country.



How does Cisco plan to handle the local market, which primarily opts for generic systems?

Cisco plans to pursue two approaches to tackle this market. The first approach is to introduce a lot of clientele to our infrastructure. We have observed that many of our clients are not revealed to our infrastructure like our routers and switches including a lot of other competitive products that we would like our clients to use. There are lots of products in which we believe we have competitive advantage over competitors. We want our clients to get as eager about these products as we are. So that's the strategic approach.

What we are doing tactically worldwide is that we have a vision for our system where we are taking the intellect from the applications and folding it into the system. It would be extremely constructive for this market to know what it means when they initiate to invest in the infrastructure from the counterbalance. So these are the two ends from the product point of view. From an industry standpoint, we are planning to bring much more business value to Pakistan instead of just the product information. And here with the business value, I can see real opportunities in the market place.

Cisco has ample experience and implements that which is derived from business point of view in all its branches worldwide and now we are planning to bring all those experiences to the Banking Industry of Pakistan. From the government point of view, we have some exciting ideas too; we are having discussions with certain ministries about the importance of e-governance and what it can bring to the government and citizens of Pakistan and to the ministries largely. There is a complete e-learning environment they want from government point of view. These are the two market segments that we want to add.

These are the formative years for Pakistan in terms of products and solutions that we can offer, however, the market seems very inquisitive to know the right hi-tech decision for the right sort of technological solution. Today, people are not asking about what is our cheapest product, they are inquiring and discussing about what would provide them total cost of ownership in future. Where their investments will be most secure from the technology point of view? There is a factual change in the market, with a great concern of value.

Our point of view is to provide the best solution in terms of both fiscally and give them the right technology advice. We don't want to be generic because it is not a one fit for all products in today's world.

How do you scrutinize the execution of WTO? Does it pose a peril or an opportunity to your business?

The scenario is very optimistic for us. Textiles is the largest industry in Pakistan. The players are now concentrating on how they can be prolific and are making sure that they could go a long way. The people who are distresses by the WTO have been contacting us and requesting for help. This is very heartening.

Taking into account the details that the market segments of Gulf and Pakistan are by now competitive enough, how does Cisco plan to bring services unlike the ones that are presently being offered by the existing companies?

The manner by which we will discriminate ourselves from others is that we will be the technology advisors in whom our clients could confide and we plan to do that by substantiating ourselves and bringing in the international and local expertise in the marketplace that can help clients make strategic decisions around technology. We believe in having the right internal capability, intelligence and channel to be a client's trusted technology partner.

IT is no longer a back office function. IT now makes or breaks the company. People are slowly warming up to this idea. People are also coming to know that Cisco can do lot more than what people perceived it to do. Let me give you some practical example like banking. We can help our clients understand what it means to have a common acquisition price. What it actually means and how we can advise them in ways where they can achieve economies of scale. The fact is that certain technology has to be in place for this to happen. We understand what it takes to do that.

On the legislative level, governments everywhere in the world are talking about building global classrooms, which is facilitating e-learning in the community and thus giving people access to skill training and ability empowerment. We comprehend what it takes to make Pakistan, a global classroom. Those are the types of discussion that we think are extremely important. We have people in our organization who are engaged in just advising the clients strategically about their needs.

Are there any other areas that Cisco is planning to highlight in addition to banking and textiles?

Being a product and solutions provider company, Cisco partners with its client to bring real solutions in time. Our market is in fact about entry-level communications. It is about high-end integrated systems and also concerns advanced technology like storage and IP Telephony. Incidentally, we have experiences in many industries like manufacturing, textiles, governance and banking. In Pakistan, our emphasis is on high level markets so it's a combination of focused industry skills; primarily in these industrial sectors plus solutions and expertise in entry-level medium firms.

We are doing loads of work with universities. Cisco is very keen and focused on education. From ground bottom we have established Cisco networking academies, which are, recognized institutes that provide labs in the country. 500 people have graduated from these institutes. On graduation a certificate is awarded and thus allocates better job opportunities. There are approximately 2,000 students in the organization right now in Pakistan.

Cisco invests one billion dollars in terms of research to encourage products into market. There are two types of research. One is what the market is looking for and secondly what is the technology worldwide. We believe in enhanced intelligent network and thus take the intellect from our surrounding. Being a technology company we deem in the future. We need to build products that construe Cisco's strategic direction and try to focus more on customer satisfaction.

What do you seek to capture, in next five years, in terms of market share?

We don't have any precise statistics yet but would like to quote soon. We are keen on getting majority market share in the IP market because we are bringing in advanced technology. We would like to have same level of governance in infrastructure development as we have the benefit of 85 percent of market share worldwide. Small and Medium enterprises are mainly the growth area. Our success will largely depend on how well we can communicate with our customers. In addition to all this, there are numerous variables, which we will learn within the course of time.