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23 September 2016
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Marcel Cappetti is Operations Director for all Enterprise Sales at Cisco Netherlands. He has extensive experience in industrial markets and was involved in several transformational and Internet of Things projects before joining Cisco.
In this interview, Marcel weighs in on the digital possible and business transformation, and the role of partner ecosystems.
The key areas of digital transformation and the impact of the Internet of Everything
Marcel, let’s start with the digital transformations taking place across all industries. Where do you see them happening and how is Cisco helping customers to succeed?
Marcel Cappetti: We indeed see that businesses are transforming. Moreover, it happens at a more accelerating pace than before. As far as Cisco concerns we see three different areas where these transformations take place:
- A first area is the transformation of business processes and business models.
- The second revolves around the empowerment of the workforce, driven by primarily an efficiency and innovation perspective.
- Last but not least, digitalization is really transforming the customer experience.
An important accelerator of digital transformation that has a clear impact on networks, is the Internet of Everything whereby we see that nowadays a million new connections are made every single hour. To illustrate the future impact: today there are roughly 5 to 6 billion items connected to the internet. By 2020 we expect this to be around 20 billion devices and in 2030 we estimate that 50 billion devices will be connected. The impact is tremendous and leads to a tsunami of connections and data, offering opportunities for our customers and obviously for us as well.
We see it as our role to support these transformations and to actively accelerate the transitions. We do this because in the end everything runs over networks, which are still our bread and butter and where we have a large footprint and installed base.
Beyond the Internet of Things: linking devices with processes, people and data – building digital roadmaps
Many people speak about the Internet of Things but Cisco prefers to talk about the Internet of Everything and Digitization. What is the rationale behind that?
Marcel Cappetti: It’s not just an Internet of Things. A device is relatively dumb and meaningless. It’s in the linking of devices with processes, people and data for a specific goal that connected devices get their meaning. What matters most is the connection of people, processes, data and things. Hence the Internet of Everything.
Now the term “digital” is everywhere – digital transformation, digital business, and digitization are the key topics in nearly every technology or business conversation. While many are now defining what it means to be digital, very few have defined how industries, cities, and countries are becoming digital. Cisco and our partners like BT have been working with innovative clients around the world to help them digitize. We are building and implementing digital roadmaps and transformations in industries from manufacturing to retail to government. We are helping countries transform the citizen experiences, banks reimagine the customer experience, and helping energy providers become more efficient.
It’s in the linking of devices with processes, people and data for a specific goal that connected devices get their meaning.
The acceleration of digital transformation impacts how businesses seek solutions
Technology is transforming businesses and our society. Does this have an impact on the way Cisco works with customers and on their demands?
Marcel Cappetti: Historically, companies didn’t rely too much on suppliers like BT or Cisco to help in their transformations or innovations. The acceleration of digital transformation has definitely changed this. We see a far more pro-active approach where businesses reach out to us, as well as us reaching out to them.
They know they can’t do everything themselves anymore especially at the pace they need to transform; and they know that we run the network, that we have the necessary tools, infrastructure and security around it to help them. So they rely more on their partners, such as Cisco. In practice, we see that customers work with a selected set of different vendors and partners, who help build the propositions and co-develop the solutions they need.
To help its customers make this shift, we aligned our product and go-to-market strategy with the needs of digital businesses. Intercloud, FastIT, Spark, ACI, security, mobile engagement, and other initiatives are all designed to enable businesses to be more agile and execute on decisions faster.
Unlike most of our peers, though, our company is trying to enable its customers to implement these technologies at an architectural level and have the Cisco infrastructure be the foundation for digitization.
Speed and the key drivers of transformation
You mention the speed of transformation need of the business, do you think the speed of data is a driver for transformation as well?
Marcel Cappetti: Absolutely. However it does depend on the industry.
Information is everything and it’s more about fast data than big data nowadays. Speed of business is crucial too. But, in the end and regardless of industry, it always boils down to three key drivers: lowering costs, increasing top-line revenue and mitigating risk. Anything we do and anything we see in the industry concerns one or more of these three.
In an era when the need for speed is critical but IT is becoming increasingly complex, the ability to deliver solutions at that architectural level should create a distinct competitive advantage for Cisco.
Information is everything and it’s more about fast data than big data nowadays.
Changing partner ecosystem dynamics
The need for flexibility, fast data, scalable networks and agility have a strong effect on technology – and vice versa. How is this impacting Cisco’s strategy?
Marcel Cappetti: In fact, it’s less of a technology transition but more a change in the way we are asked to engage with customers, and we are reassessing our go-to-market as a consequence.
Large corporations are not so much interested in our core technologies anymore but more interested in capabilities to deliver end-to-end solutions in conjunction with partners such as BT. We see that a vendor such as Cisco but also, for instance, Intel or BT is asked to create and manage the partner ecosystem for a project and offer more thought leadership around the preparation, planning, design, implementation, operations and even optimisation of the IT environment.
In other words for Cisco: we’re not seen as just the hardware provider anymore but also as a partner who knows the market and evolutions very well. So, there is a shift in the role we are asked to play in the dynamics of ecosystems. The pie has become bigger and we see a different split between the various players. One plus one can still be three and that’s where BT differentiate themselves very well. They are able to work more pro-actively with partners such as Cisco, realising that the sum of the parts is bigger than two.
A hybrid approach to the future network is absolutely the trend we’re seeing.
Hybrid clouds: the inter-cloud and cloud of clouds
How do you see the role of cloud services and networks looking at these ecosystems, like BT’s Cloud-of-Clouds infrastructure approach – where different clouds and services are brought together in a secure management wrap, and can be switched on and off by the customer ‘as a service’?
Marcel Cappetti: Everyone seems to believe that there is a big threat for Cisco as everything is moving to the cloud. But there isn’t. Because a hybrid approach to the future network is absolutely the trend we’re seeing. Off course we like private cloud and private data centres, because they are built on our technologies. But so are public cloud or hybrid clouds – don’t forget a lot of today’s clouds are Cisco powered, right? To illustrate: Cisco’s inter-cloud solution is one of the enablers of BT’s cloud-of-clouds infrastructure and management layer (the Compute Management System) to, for example, move workloads back and forth, depending on what security levels are required, depending on what price levels are offered, and lastly, you may want to move workloads private to public or vice versa.
So there’s a huge opportunity now in what BT calls the ‘cloud of clouds’ and we at Cisco call inter-cloud. In the end we all want to see the network and infrastructures become more agile in delivering services to the business of our customers – faster – at the best price – and secure.
Join the discussion on Twitter #DigitalPossible.
This interview is conducted at the occasion of the BT Cloud Summit 2016 in The Netherlands on October 12, 2016. Impressions from the event.
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Interview by BT Let’s Talk guest blogger, J-P De Clerck. J-P is a digital marketing and business analyst. He’s active on the crossroads where marketing, business, customer experience, technologies, IT, media and digital transformation meet. You can connect with him on Twitter and in our Benelux LinkedIn Group.