Defining Emerging Tech
Cisco has made more than 25 acquisitions since 2005. Can you explain how these acquisitions are providing enterprises with technology that can be used now and in the future? Weve had two types of acquisitions, platform and accretive. Our acquisition of Celsius was a platform acquisition that got us into telephony. Our acquisition of Aironet got us into wireless. In the case of emerging technology, we tend to do accretive acquisitions that add on to our in-house incubation. For example, Tivella gave us a digital media signage product, a media player. That was a very nice add-on to our business unit that is focused on desktop video. Because not everyone wants to watch video at their PC, you also have signage products like flat-panel screens and projection systems, so that was a logical add-on. TelePresence was almost all built in-house. There was a video compression made by a small company called OpGate, but that was it.The whole channel question is a key aspect of our due diligence of entering a market space and looking at possible acquisitions. We look at what complementary assets Cisco already has to get us into a space, then we focus on the outside. The outside is customers and partners. We look at the market to see how we will sell, and this is where our channel partners come in. We have a channel organization that is, of course, adept at selling our products. Quite often they have a lot of skills that in the past we havent tapped in to. It turns out that many of our partners who sell our routers, switches and telephony also have a business in physical security. When we decided to go into the physical security market, we had conversations with our channel partners to ask if they could teach us something. We asked them to validate some of the product ideas we were considering. We also asked for some competitive analysis to see how our product would be perceived against the established players. For example? In our physical security area, we have two key areasgaming and public safety. The choice of those two areas was largely shaped by our partners because they said we know these spaces and we can get you into these markets. Especially in public safety, this was critical because these are large, complex projects. There are many aspects of these projects with which Cisco was intimately familiar, so going through some established defense contractors as a channel strategy worked very well. Do emerging technologies shake up IT as we know it? If so, what is disruptive about something such as videoconferencing? To some extent in IT what we find is that nothing is genuinely new, its reinvented. Videoconferencing was first demonstrated at AT&T at the 1964 Worlds Fair [the Picturephone system in New York]. We didnt have broadband, we didnt have high definition, we didnt have flat screens. Weve had many incremental improvements that make it possible today. I find that when people keep trying to reinvent the same thing over and over again [it] is a good sign. Why? Because it shows that there is a compelling need. The big difference between videoconferencing and TelePresence is the average utilization numbers. Our data shows that videoconferencing is used 2 to 5 percent of the time compared to TelePresence rooms, which are used 60 percent of the time. Only now has the technology gotten there to create the illusion of presence, which is what our system does. Another difference is the business drivers. Business is much more global than it was 40 years ago. We are more concerned about energy. And today travel is difficult and tedious. After a wave of outsourcing what you are left with are the key knowledge workers and intellects in your company. Without TelePresence, what are you doing? You are wearing them down by forcing them to be everywhere at all times. We dont solve the time zone problem. But the ability to give them more frequent, high-quality interactions and avoiding the need to be there in person, yet to have a credible and high-quality experience, makes a big difference. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.
How are channel partners included in the emerging technology group?