B. Raghavendran (Raghu) leads the Partner Organization for Cisco India and SAARC. In this role, he continues to build and evolve Cisco's partner organizations to drive scale and revenue growth while maintaining profitability.
Having been with Cisco for 20 years, he has held a number of leadership positions, including his previous role as the Chief Operating Officer. As COO, he oversaw the ongoing business operations within Cisco India and SAARC, and helped create operations strategies and policies in line with the company’s business goals. He also managed the internal operational activities of various business units that included sales, operations, human resources, personnel, and finance.
In an exclusive interaction with ChannelWorld, he talks about Cisco's plans for its partner ecosystem and the growth areas for 2019.
What will be the growth areas for Cisco’s business in 2019?
Our performance in fiscal 2018 demonstrates a combination of strong customer adoption of our latest solutions, the ongoing value customers see in our software and subscription offerings, and excellent execution.
We are looking forward to fiscal 2019 with a clear focus on growth, execution, and innovation. We will continue to drive automation, security, and analytics across the entire network infrastructure.
Vertical-wise, BFSI, ITeS, SMB and public sector continue to drive business for Cisco. Apart from this, we also see much traction in manufacturing, education, retail, and healthcare. We are working closely with our partner ecosystem to provide greater value to our customers in these domains. With their support, we believe we are well positioned to capture growth across the verticals.
What challenges does digitization bring to the table, and how can it be turned into opportunities?
In the next few years, digitization will create new opportunities to transform the world around us — in education, healthcare, manufacturing, commerce, transportation, and other sectors. To fully realize the potential of the digital economy, we need to accelerate the building of digital infrastructure, with a laser-focus on creating high-speed broadband networks.
“Automation, analytics, security and software subscriptions are part of every customer conversation, and it is shaping their buying decisions.”
As we digitize, there will be new challenges, especially concerning data, analytics, automation, and security. Addressing these challenges will be a huge opportunity for Indian partner ecosystem and the ICT industry in general. However, for us to be successful - merely selling a product is no longer enough. Customers are looking for solutions to help them deliver business outcomes that enable growth and profitability. To capitalize on this opportunity, it is important that our partners build new skill sets to make themselves relevant to their customers.
In 2019, gaining expertise in new areas like industry 4.0, automation, data analytics, cybersecurity, ML, etc. will help partners better understand and deliver powerful vertical market solutions.
How do you plan to enable channel partners to increase their profitability this year?
Cisco is a partner-driven organization, and over the years, I have realized that the way we engage with our partners defines our success. Also, partners prefer to work with companies who invest in their overall growth.
Today, digitization is creating new possibilities; creating new markets and new revenue streams. The opportunity is so vast and complex that no one company can address this. Hence, partnerships are more important now than ever. We are committed to our partners and to help them identify and navigate the most important technology transitions, and enable them to capitalize on new market opportunities.
“Vertical-wise, BFSI, ITeS, SMB and public sector continue to drive business for Cisco. Apart from this, we also see much traction in manufacturing, education, retail, and healthcare.”
Aligned with our strategy to move towards more predictable software and subscription business model, we are helping our channel partners develop a software/subscription strategy. Over the next 12 months, we will revamp our channel programs, placing focus on lifecycle management and customer experience, with remuneration moving to recurring revenue.
What are the technology trends that can impact channel partners as it relates to Cisco’s business?
Automation, analytics, security and software subscriptions are part of every customer conversation, and it is shaping their buying decisions. To stay relevant, our partners need to align their strategy with the changing needs of their customers. Our efforts are towards helping partners move towards this direction and are committed to making them the most strategic technology partner for their customers.
What key message does Cisco have for its partners for 2019?
We will have three messages for our partner ecosystem:
• Partners are central to our strategy and the most important player on our team.
• We need to adapt and innovate to seize our opportunity and continue to lead in the market.
• Partner success is our top priority – they can count on our commitment to powering their growth, extending their market relevance and driving profitability.