Cisco will continue to build champion customers: Rajesh Shetty, Cisco

Rajesh Shetty believes a forward thinking CIO owns the organization’s digital transformation journey de-facto. He also talks about how Cisco intends to play out for its customers in this day and age.

In a recent interview on the sidelines of the Cisco India Summit, Rajesh Shetty, managing director Sales – Enterprise, Cisco, elaborates on what Cisco intends to do with its enterprise business, the new use cases that the Cisco Digital Transformation Office (DTO) is working on to build its champion customers.

Edited Excerpts:

What is the range of Cisco’s enterprise customer relationships?

If you look at the enterprise definition, Cisco has the top hundred customers in India. The larger players obviously are the large IT/ITES firms such as Wipro, Infosys, TCS, HCL and Cognizant. They are also our global partners, as we manage their relationship for India and globally. We are also responsible for their overall 360 market which includes the go to market and the customers. This is the gamut of my responsibility or influence. The other big vertical for us is BFSI which comes under the evolved vertical. Evolved verticals are the ones who buy a lot of Cisco gear and are heavily invested in technology and have understood their needs in terms of how evolution is concerned. 

The newer areas are basically manufacturing and the conglomerates. A lot of conglomerates have a very distributed IT and a very distributed way of looking at what are the needs of each and every organization. Now they are looking at private clouds, they are looking at consolidating; they are trying to create a network for their own requirement. Hence, we spend quite a lot of time with conglomerates to understand their nuances and see how we can create solutions for them. This is becoming very, very important for us. 

The interesting part is obviously for the evolved sectors like IT and banking. There we discuss scale and growth which sums up the entire digitization journey. Those are very high level, forward looking discussions that are happening on how to use the existing infrastructure much more effectively, whereas in the newer verticals, it is much more in terms of setting up the foundation and pace. 

For example in manufacturing, we are currently talking about industry 4.0, how they can bring the IT-OT integration into it. In the same way the positive part about the newer verticals is they can start from scratch. Hence, we find them quite open in terms of adopting the newer ideas and new ways of doing it. This will lead to a faster evolution of newer verticals versus some of the highly regulated verticals like banking. 

How do you reconcile the ongoing differences between the CIO, LOB, about who owns the business risks and the ongoing influence of shadow IT? 

I would add one more thing to the complexity i.e. budgets.  The speed at which budgets and initiatives are being decided is much faster than the CIO of the organization can plan them. The CIO is grappling with this quite a lot. My learning has been that the best way of making initiatives happen is to make the CIO your friend. When CIO’s understand this they partner very effectively, rather than having a relationship where you are a vendor to them. These CIOs who understand that we are a partner know that there is much that we can offer. One of the things that we understand well is being customer. Cisco being a USD 50 billion conglomerate goes through quite a lot of those same issues that our customers go through. 

We use the similar technology, so we take our experience and our implementation of technology internally to our customers, and walk them through our learning. In many cases, the discussion is not only with the CIO, but we get the CIO to champion internally within the customers organization, where he champions a threat, which covers a large line of business. Now, when that happens, a CIO becomes relevant, rather than looking at the line of business as a competitor, he becomes a partner with them. Cisco also gets carried forward with the relationship that we have with the CIO which further transfers to the line of business. This is one area that we focus very effective. 

As an example, in the case of one of our customers who was acquiring quite a lot of customers, we put them in touch with the Cisco team which does acquisition integration. This had nothing to do with IT, there was no sale at the end of it. This was our way of showing how Cisco takes a company and integrates it so that it effectively becomes a part of our organization. Now, when that discussion happens, the CIO is the one who champions it. They hold quite a lot of power as they are the ones who drive that conversation. Hence, sharing our experience with the CIO makes him more relevant internally, where he can then champion the technology or the concept. This goes a long way to reducing friction while doing business, we are able to cross leverage the relationship that we have the CIO of the organization and transfer it to the line of business.

It works where there is a good amount of synergy and a forward looking CIO. Wherever the relationship between the LOB and CIO is not very good, then our work becomes difficult and this is the time when we try to build through other areas of influence. You can look at, for example, a typical sales organization whom we can use from an influence point of view. The Cisco brand is highly reputed, and it opens a lot of doors. But our earlier successes such as WebEx were won through different methods, such as through HR, because they needed to do a lot of trainings. They needed to conduct a lot of interviews, and were short of manpower that could travel.  These are specific pain-points in the LOB that we identify and then address through technology. In the larger enterprises, it works, whereas in the smaller enterprises it depends upon our relationship with the CIO, or concerned LOB head. This is not a one size fits all approach, but I would say we have been reasonably successful in this initiative.

... In manufacturing, we are currently talking about industry 4.0, how they can bring the IT-OT integration into it. In the same way, the positive part about the newer verticals is they can start from scratch.
Rajesh Shetty
MD Sales – Enterprise, Cisco

What does the roadmap for your team look like for 2020?

We actually are taking a two pronged approach. For examples the organizations and verticals where we have established relationships, it is business as usual. We understand their needs, we know which solutions fit those needs, and we know how to scale for their requirements. However, entering into newer areas is where we are focusing heavily in the digital transformation organization (DTO). Hence, the focus there is to choose an inner vertical and build it as the champion customer. Build those skill sets, build the relevance, build that solution, bring them the eco-system, create that whole stack and make it work. Once that heavy lifting happens, and which usually takes time as this cannot be done by a sales person alone. Therefore, the DTO focuses on it. Our sales personnel are involved, but a lot of heavy lifting is done by the DTO team. Furthermore, when we reach the level of a proven solution which works, and is ready for the customer where 80% is 85% is a steady stack, and only 15% or 20% is a customization, then it is scaled. This works extremely well in smart cities. In fact this is how the DTO started, with inroads to smart cities which were expanded out.

What is Cisco’s position as far its cloud positioning and strategy go? 

We are the enablers of cloud, we are also the ones who are enablers of multi-cloud. When you are trying to move your workload on the cloud, first thing that you have to do is understand what is there in the existing data centre. We have a product called Tetration, which gives you that visibility. The second thing that you need to do is understand how you can optimize your application from the point of view of making it cloud ready and making it better from a performance point of view. App dynamics, the company that we acquired gives that visibility, it also gives you business intelligence and the third is in terms of managing your workflow/workload, which work should move to the cloud, which cloud should it move to. We have a cloud centre for that. When a customer needs a private cloud, we have the whole ACI framework, and the servers and hyper convergence and all that in terms of building that. So we offer an end to end solution as a cloud play concern, depending upon the need for a private cloud or a public cloud, or transition into a public cloud or private cloud and something in between. 

We spent a lot of time in terms of talking about the cloud journey, and how we can add value. The perception of ACI is that it is a private cloud offering; this is not true. ACI provides the policies and inroads needed to move data from a private to a public cloud. This gives full control to the user, and is an example of the assets Cisco has developed in terms of cloud.

Cisco will continue to build champion customers: Rajesh Shetty, Cisco

Rajesh Shetty believes a forward thinking CIO owns the organization’s digital transformation journey de-facto. He also talks about how Cisco intends to play out for its customers in this day and age.

In a recent interview on the sidelines of the Cisco India Summit, Rajesh Shetty, managing director Sales – Enterprise, Cisco, elaborates on what Cisco intends to do with its enterprise business, the new use cases that the Cisco Digital Transformation Office (DTO) is working on to build its champion customers.

Edited Excerpts:

What is the range of Cisco’s enterprise customer relationships?

If you look at the enterprise definition, Cisco has the top hundred customers in India. The larger players obviously are the large IT/ITES firms such as Wipro, Infosys, TCS, HCL and Cognizant. They are also our global partners, as we manage their relationship for India and globally. We are also responsible for their overall 360 market which includes the go to market and the customers. This is the gamut of my responsibility or influence. The other big vertical for us is BFSI which comes under the evolved vertical. Evolved verticals are the ones who buy a lot of Cisco gear and are heavily invested in technology and have understood their needs in terms of how evolution is concerned. 

The newer areas are basically manufacturing and the conglomerates. A lot of conglomerates have a very distributed IT and a very distributed way of looking at what are the needs of each and every organization. Now they are looking at private clouds, they are looking at consolidating; they are trying to create a network for their own requirement. Hence, we spend quite a lot of time with conglomerates to understand their nuances and see how we can create solutions for them. This is becoming very, very important for us. 

The interesting part is obviously for the evolved sectors like IT and banking. There we discuss scale and growth which sums up the entire digitization journey. Those are very high level, forward looking discussions that are happening on how to use the existing infrastructure much more effectively, whereas in the newer verticals, it is much more in terms of setting up the foundation and pace. 

For example in manufacturing, we are currently talking about industry 4.0, how they can bring the IT-OT integration into it. In the same way the positive part about the newer verticals is they can start from scratch. Hence, we find them quite open in terms of adopting the newer ideas and new ways of doing it. This will lead to a faster evolution of newer verticals versus some of the highly regulated verticals like banking. 

How do you reconcile the ongoing differences between the CIO, LOB, about who owns the business risks and the ongoing influence of shadow IT? 

I would add one more thing to the complexity i.e. budgets.  The speed at which budgets and initiatives are being decided is much faster than the CIO of the organization can plan them. The CIO is grappling with this quite a lot. My learning has been that the best way of making initiatives happen is to make the CIO your friend. When CIO’s understand this they partner very effectively, rather than having a relationship where you are a vendor to them. These CIOs who understand that we are a partner know that there is much that we can offer. One of the things that we understand well is being customer. Cisco being a USD 50 billion conglomerate goes through quite a lot of those same issues that our customers go through. 

We use the similar technology, so we take our experience and our implementation of technology internally to our customers, and walk them through our learning. In many cases, the discussion is not only with the CIO, but we get the CIO to champion internally within the customers organization, where he champions a threat, which covers a large line of business. Now, when that happens, a CIO becomes relevant, rather than looking at the line of business as a competitor, he becomes a partner with them. Cisco also gets carried forward with the relationship that we have with the CIO which further transfers to the line of business. This is one area that we focus very effective. 

As an example, in the case of one of our customers who was acquiring quite a lot of customers, we put them in touch with the Cisco team which does acquisition integration. This had nothing to do with IT, there was no sale at the end of it. This was our way of showing how Cisco takes a company and integrates it so that it effectively becomes a part of our organization. Now, when that discussion happens, the CIO is the one who champions it. They hold quite a lot of power as they are the ones who drive that conversation. Hence, sharing our experience with the CIO makes him more relevant internally, where he can then champion the technology or the concept. This goes a long way to reducing friction while doing business, we are able to cross leverage the relationship that we have the CIO of the organization and transfer it to the line of business.

It works where there is a good amount of synergy and a forward looking CIO. Wherever the relationship between the LOB and CIO is not very good, then our work becomes difficult and this is the time when we try to build through other areas of influence. You can look at, for example, a typical sales organization whom we can use from an influence point of view. The Cisco brand is highly reputed, and it opens a lot of doors. But our earlier successes such as WebEx were won through different methods, such as through HR, because they needed to do a lot of trainings. They needed to conduct a lot of interviews, and were short of manpower that could travel.  These are specific pain-points in the LOB that we identify and then address through technology. In the larger enterprises, it works, whereas in the smaller enterprises it depends upon our relationship with the CIO, or concerned LOB head. This is not a one size fits all approach, but I would say we have been reasonably successful in this initiative.

... In manufacturing, we are currently talking about industry 4.0, how they can bring the IT-OT integration into it. In the same way, the positive part about the newer verticals is they can start from scratch.
Rajesh Shetty
MD Sales – Enterprise, Cisco

What does the roadmap for your team look like for 2020?

We actually are taking a two pronged approach. For examples the organizations and verticals where we have established relationships, it is business as usual. We understand their needs, we know which solutions fit those needs, and we know how to scale for their requirements. However, entering into newer areas is where we are focusing heavily in the digital transformation organization (DTO). Hence, the focus there is to choose an inner vertical and build it as the champion customer. Build those skill sets, build the relevance, build that solution, bring them the eco-system, create that whole stack and make it work. Once that heavy lifting happens, and which usually takes time as this cannot be done by a sales person alone. Therefore, the DTO focuses on it. Our sales personnel are involved, but a lot of heavy lifting is done by the DTO team. Furthermore, when we reach the level of a proven solution which works, and is ready for the customer where 80% is 85% is a steady stack, and only 15% or 20% is a customization, then it is scaled. This works extremely well in smart cities. In fact this is how the DTO started, with inroads to smart cities which were expanded out.

What is Cisco’s position as far its cloud positioning and strategy go? 

We are the enablers of cloud, we are also the ones who are enablers of multi-cloud. When you are trying to move your workload on the cloud, first thing that you have to do is understand what is there in the existing data centre. We have a product called Tetration, which gives you that visibility. The second thing that you need to do is understand how you can optimize your application from the point of view of making it cloud ready and making it better from a performance point of view. App dynamics, the company that we acquired gives that visibility, it also gives you business intelligence and the third is in terms of managing your workflow/workload, which work should move to the cloud, which cloud should it move to. We have a cloud centre for that. When a customer needs a private cloud, we have the whole ACI framework, and the servers and hyper convergence and all that in terms of building that. So we offer an end to end solution as a cloud play concern, depending upon the need for a private cloud or a public cloud, or transition into a public cloud or private cloud and something in between. 

We spent a lot of time in terms of talking about the cloud journey, and how we can add value. The perception of ACI is that it is a private cloud offering; this is not true. ACI provides the policies and inroads needed to move data from a private to a public cloud. This gives full control to the user, and is an example of the assets Cisco has developed in terms of cloud.