'Be vehicles for innovation, not just channels to sell'
Businesses in developing markets like Africa have a clear opportunity to innovate on top of the company's platform to optimise service delivery to clients.
So said Ruba Borno, VP Growth Initiatives and chief of staff to Cisco's CEO, adding that the message to partners is to be vehicles for innovation, not just a channel to sell: and this is core to the company's strategy going forward.
"This will disproportionally benefit the emerging markets because now they have access to technology they wouldn't have had access to before... they can leverage on a global scale, they can leverage solutions in parts of South East Asia that maybe can apply to parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.
"We've found when we looked into bespoke solutions for customers, there was quite a bit of redundancy, you have partners that are creating the same solutions over and over again... what if they could just innovate on-top of that solution rather than have to reinvent it every single time," said Borno.
Speaking on the sidelines of Cisco's 2018 Partner Connection Week in Nassau, Bahamas, Borno highlighted the company's involvement with Dimension Data in the Connected Conservation project in Africa as an example of how advanced network infrastructure is being used to optimise business/organisational process.
The project is based on the combination of video, seismic and thermal sensor technology with a secure network to help those on the frontline of nature conservation deal proactively with threats.
The implication is that it reflects the enterprise software firm's endorsement of next-generation networking technology characterised by advances including intent-based networking innovation, managed service adoption and access innovation.
Positioning intent-based networking to help businesses capitalise on IOT is a key focus area for the company going forward.
According to Cisco, by 2020 46% of network devices will be machine-to-machine and 50 billion devices will be connected by 2021.
"Ultimately IOT will have a big enough impact to force a fundamental change in how we create and manage networks. The technical challenges are substantial. But there are business opportunities to make the work worthwhile."
The company has announced enhancements to its intent-based networking portfolio or Cisco DNA, including the roll-out of Cisco Identity Service Engine (ISE) software to recognise devices as they connect, scaling SD-Access (Software-Defined Access) to the extended enterprise and new operational insights cloud-based service.
Cisco executives explain that taken together, these upgraded capabilities point to a network platform for managing connected devices that is very different from the traditional, port-based, rules-heavy scheme most network managers grew up with.
Borno believes that emerging markets like Africa have just as great an opportunity to leverage these tech enhancements as their developed counterparts. And, like these counterparts, Cisco plans to engage local partners to help deliver the technology innovation to assist in service delivery to customers.
"To make machine learning capabilities work and ultimately achieve AI, you actually have to have interoperability, openness and programmability. So, if you think of what we've invested in over the last three-and-a-half years in rewriting the network operating systems: that it is open, it is modular and programmable, all that is in service of creating a platform for others to innovate.
"That is really where partners come in. They are facing our customers every day and so empowering them with the ability to innovate solutions on top of this platform to deliver that innovation for customers is a key part of our strategy going forward," she said.