Cisco changing their game to embrace digital disruption

Cisco held a solutions summit on Tuesday for their partners and customers. Well attended by IT players across various industry, the solutions forum featured sponsors including Intel, NetApp and Schneider Electric. While it wasn’t open to media, DSA had special exclusive access thanks to NetApp’s invitation. NetApp was on site to showcase their converged offerings, with the focus around their partnered solution Flexpod.

The summit kicked off with keynotes delivered by Cisco’s Country Manager for Malaysia Albert Chai and APJ CTO Dave West.

Albert addressed the conference talking about technological disruptions and how they are changing the way businesses are working. In the digital era, “everything that can be digitised, will be digitised.” He quoted that there are some 50 million startups forming in a year, which means incumbents have to find new ways of running their businesses or risk getting left behind in the race.

“You have to reimagine value for your customers and your businesses.”

Albert tells the conference that transformation isn’t just about the technology. It’s also about processes and business model – to encourage innovations allowing faster time to market; increasing productivity and staff retention by empowering the workforce efficiency though technology; as well as personalising customer experiences to build loyalty and obtaining greater insight to customer behaviours.

Cisco themselves are transforming their business model from a hardware focus to putting emphasis on software. In fact, Dave said in his keynote that in the last 12 months, Cisco secured 12 acquisition and partnership, in which 10 are software companies. “In fact looking back at the last 18 to 24 months, 80% of acquisitions and partnerships that we’ve made are software [companies].”

“There are 17 billion connected devices around the world, and I think that number is massively underestimated by around 5 times. In the next 4 years, we are looking at an estimated 35 billion more devices will be connected.”
Dave’s seen digital transformation fastest by far in the last 12 months. From analytics to automation and machine learning, technology is the industry moving the fastest and facing most disruption.

But it’s not just the tech industry. Every industry from retail, media and travel to financial services, healthcare and manufacturing – every industry is facing disruption by the vortex of digital transformation. Dave expects about 40% incumbent companies and businesses will be disrupted by 2020. Already it’s taking shape in the form of unicorn companies (startups valued at over 1 billion) like Uber and AirBnB; significantly, 23 of the top 100 unicorn companies sits in Asia.

For Dave, the question of “Are you digital ready?” boils down to 5 factors: scale, security, service assurance, automation, contextual insight.

Dave showed the conference details on Cisco’s new approach to networking called the Digital Network Architecture (DNA) with the tagline of being “open, extensible and software driven”. While being hailed partly as Cisco’s answer to SDN (Software Defined Networking), Dave said it’s not just an SDN – it’s also a SD LAN, with SD segmentation capabilities and much more.

With Cisco DNA they are aiming for simplicity and automation through digital processes, while keeping it secure and complaint to policies by having security as pervasive across the entire infrastructure and not just an overlay. Cisco is also emphasising on digital experiences of customers by using analytics – providing insight and hyperawareness of not only the capabilities of the infrastructure but also the customer’s experience.

And Dave gave a guarantee that all products develop will have those capabilities. “If we cannot align to this, we will not develop the product.”

Traditionally, Cisco was a hardware focused player; but with industries changing, they are quickly moving into providing both hardware and software capabilities, including providing support and solutions for the virtual platforms as well. With many of their customers adopting a hybrid cloud approach, Dave said Cisco is ready for any demands.

“We don’t care where you’re housed – if you’re cloud based, we will deliver that to you; if you are on prem, we also deliver that to you.”

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