EXCLUSIVE:
CISCO SYSTEMS - FOCUSING PAKISTAN BANKING SECTOR FOR NETWORKING SOLUTIONS

By AMANULLAH BASHAR
Dec 05 - 11, 2005

Cisco Systems, Inc. is the worldwide leader in the networking for the Internet. Today, networks are an essential part of business, education, government and home communications, and Cisco Internet Protocol-based networking solutions are the foundation of these networks.

Samer Alkharrat, Gneral Manager, and Wayne Hull, Cisco's Regional Sales Manager of Gulf and Pakistan Region, the two young professional of international repute were in Pakistan in connection with the campaign to introduce Cisco system in the banking system of Pakistan.

Wayne is responsible for all technology solutions sales for SMB, Mid Market and Mid Market Enterprises across Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Samer Alkharrat is responsible for all Cisco systems' business across the Gulf; countries include UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In an exclusive interview, when PAGE asked the two gentlemen whether the banking sector was lagging behind in IT applications? Cisco was targeting the banks exclusively for their business campaign in Pakistan.

Alkharrat was quick to respond with a smile on his face, "As far as the products being used by the banking sector in Pakistan they are of course world class and at par with international standards, however, it is the area of application of these IT products where the banking industry was immature and improvement in application is much desired to bring quality and standards in customer services as well as strengthening the communication infrastructure.

Cisco is endeavoring to pursue senior managers and decision-makers from leading banks and financial institutions in the country to understand the role the technology plays in the rapidly changing business environment of the sector.

Cisco's vision for the banking industry is encapsulated in Cisco's "Branch of the Future" blueprint, data center consolidation and virtualization, and more effective and efficient use of ATMs.

Alkharrat and Hull were of the view that it is the intelligent network that acts as the platform for conducting business, enabling multi-channel integration and customer relationship management (CRM) and providing advanced operational risk management to comply with the new regulatory legislation while optimizing service processes and containing costs.

The banking and financial services industry in Pakistan is showing signs of robust growth after the extensive reforms in the sector which had to undergo in the past decade, they said and added that branch and staff rationalization programs in major banks and financial institutions have resulted in heavy reliance on technology aimed at raising staff productivity, improved work culture and increased customers access.

Cisco systems occupies a niche space in the global banking sector as the business enabler and is committed to bring positive results in the banking industry of Pakistan.

They said that currently, 75 percent of all Internet traffic generated in the financial industry is running on CISCO infrastructure. We are a pivotal part of the industry and are looking forward to bringing additional value-added technology to the industry in Pakistan.

Wayne Hull while taking part in the discussion observed that banks are constantly engaged to increase the value of its services to customers, and technology has a central role to its fruition. Cisco's solution packages relevant technology and services for each financial service provider aimed at customizing its own technology roadmap, prioritizing elements that are of immediate value to it and earmarking others, greatly improving the bank's service and scalability proposition.

Internationally, today, the banks are applying customer relationship management (CRM) techniques and technology to construct a single view of the customer.

By using Cisco's advanced solutions and strategies banks in Pakistan can create an integrated channel framework and alongside advanced communication systems, offer an unprecedented level of personalized services to the customers, Hull said.

When asked to comment on overall development in the IT sector and how they see it is taking shape in Pakistan? Alkharrat said actually this country has great potential to grow and in fact it is on the road of progress that is the reason it is attracting the leading IT players from all over the world. Since a huge market was still untapped Pakistan offers great opportunities to investors to have a lion's share in economic growth which has already started to show the signs of coming events.

Another area they pointed out was the brain drain from Pakistan. In fact, now is the time that attractive incentives should be offered to the young graduates to stay back in the country but efforts should also be made to bring back a huge crop of intelligent youngsters currently serving outside Pakistan. They are the real assets of this country and will be required to match the human resource need in the coming days as the economy seems moving towards the faster track, they felt.