The Nation


The importance of being connected

IT executive Stanimira Koleva says that connectivity and networks are essential for today's businesses, whether small firms or multinational corporations

Stanimira Koleva, Cisco's managing director of Asia Pacific/JC partner business group, says the next step for the US-based IT network giant is to focus on data centres, small and medium-sized enterprises, and collaboration.Cisco is shedding 9 per cent of its global workforce of 71,000. It is also reorganising its business into three geographic areas, namely the US and related markets; Europe and the Middle East; and the Asia-Pacific region plus Japan and China.The move follows a sharp slowdown of the US and European economies, both of which have been hit hard by prolonged indebtedness.Credit rating agency Standard and Poor's recently also downgraded US treasuries for the first time since 1917, while there is no credible long-term solution to the European sovereign debt crisis yet.For Cisco and its clients, the business climate in the US and the euro zone has therefore become increasingly uncertain, but the Asia-Pacific region plus Japan and China remain a bright spot.This region is now the most dynamic, with GDP growth rates ranging from 3 to 9 per cent per annum, whereas US economic growth is being revised downward to less than 2 per cent and the euro zone is still facing its unsolved sovereign debt crisis.The reorganisation will also boost the company's responsiveness and make it easier to do business with partners, especially in the Asia-Pacific region plus Japan and China, where IT spending continues to grow at a double-digit rate.In her opinion, reorganisation will reduce the company's response time to client projects from three or four weeks to only one week.In Thailand, Cisco's major customers include telecom companies, banks, insurance firms, manufacturing businesses and other big corporations.In addition, governments, educational institutes, healthcare establishments and small and medium-sized businesses are key targets.According to Koleva, the widespread use of cloud computing has ushered in a new business model in terms of billing systems, service delivery methods, and security. So this means that Cisco's next step is to provide cloud solutions based on the needs of its business partners.The latest survey shows that 25-26 per cent of small and medium-sized businesses now use at least one type of cloud service such as hosted software, hosted storage, on-demand computing, disaster recovery and hosted security.In the area of collaboration, she says video remains a high-growth area for businesses, with the growing use of tele-presence and smaller-screen video services for delivering life-like tele-conferencing experiences. This can done on a platform that can include all devices such as iPhones' Face time, iPads and the likes.In April, Cisco also launches its own Cius small-screen devices for enterprise use as part of its secured platform.Cisco expects virtualisation of data centres around the world and business collaboration via video and other media to continue driving revenue growth.Koleva says good networking is indispensable in the connected world, so Cisco's expertise as the leading network company will continue to be crucial."In fact, a good network is just like a good neck, while all the big data centres are like the brain, managing all the devices around you," she says, noting that people around the world are now connected via multiple networks such as broadband, 3G or 4G.

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