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Interview: Cisco's Suzanne Hansen - P2

18 Nov 10

Cisco’s Suzanne Hansen, Senior Manager ANZ Commercial Marketing, has been with the company for 12 years and seen plenty of change within the channel.

In the second part of our exclusive interview, Hansen talks about rivals, ultra fast broadband, the recession and what's in store for 2011.

If you missed part one of our exclusive interview, hit this link and catch up

What keeps Cisco ahead of its rivals?

We’ve done some interesting things. With the purchase of Tandberg we’ve got video conferencing all the way from client-based, cloud-based web X. Tandberg fills in that whole middle area where we have video phones and personal video conferencing. And then we’ve got telepresence with the immersive experience thanks to the whole room system. It’s extremely high definition and the reason people need broadband.

By November we’ll be announcing the telepresence for the home. I don’t expect we’ll see that in New Zealand for about a year though. It’s a completely different experience to Skype, really high definition. It really depends on ultra fast broadband and when this becomes a reality for the home.

How important is ultra fast broadband for Cisco?

Very. You talk to the government and the Crown Fibre guys, everybody is trying to do the business justification for it. Our way of thinking is that the outcomes you’ll get from video are absolutely the justification.

I’m driving a team in Sydney but I’m not moving there, I’m doing it from New Zealand. I’m one person here and there are seven people there and I’m doing it all through telepresence. I only have to fly over there from time to time now instead of all the time.

UFB will give people like me the experience and the opportunity without having to leave the country. That has to be a big thing for New Zealand.

Video is going to have a lot of outcomes. Take corrections or justice or whatever and the kinds of things they’re doing with video is amazing.

In Denmark they’re doing self-help over video with the health system so people are staying at home instead of going to a doctor’s office or the hospital. The network is absolutely the platform for being able to deliver those kinds of services with less money.

The debate so far has been about are we going to be able to download movies faster. That’s nice but...

I think video will drive UFB. If you get a better Skype for example, that would drive a lot of usage. The government is working with FX Networks and Datacraft on a project called One Government. They’re setting up a whole video-enabled network so all departments will be able to communicate and share. That’s got to save money, right?

Do you have a favourite for the UFB?

No, we don’t have so much involvement in setting up the actual fibre to the home, our involvement is what we can do once it’s there.

How far ahead are you planning what services you’ll offer?

Those services are happening now. In the South Island we’ve put in connectivity with Gen-i called Health Presence which is telepresence with instrumentation. People can get specialist diagnoses without having to drive. It’s a matter of putting in the broadband and then the services will come.

Who are Cisco’s main rivals today?

We’ve got a lot of point product competitors. The thing we really excel at is that we’ve got such a complete portfolio of solutions so if you say voice, it could be Avia, if you say switches or security it would be other companies – nobody can do that across the board. If you’re going to deliver video services to a network in terms of sports, digital signage, you’ve got to have a decent, secure network. We can do that, we’ve got all the bits.

What are the biggest challenges that channel partners will face over the next 12 months?

I don’t think the cloud necessarily has to take things away from them. The smart ones will get their heads around business services in the cloud. Probably the biggest challenge will be learning to move from a buying and selling model to consumption model. And I think that’s big for all of us and not just channel partners. Cloud will change channel models but the channel guys that are smart will do well.

Is the recession over for New Zealand from your point of view?

New Zealand was so conservative that we didn’t get the recession we thought we were going to. Australia’s doing really well because of all the resources they have. I think New Zealand is really susceptible to... if America has wind we feel it. Is it over? I don’t think it ever started. But we have to be careful, cautious and smart.

This is a good opportunity for people like us who see technology as a means of filling productivity holes that people can’t afford any more.

What can we expect from Cisco over the next 12 months?

Even I couldn’t tell you that, some of the things we announce surprise us too.

Video’s huge, adjacent markets are becoming really big for us so things like Smart Grid, we’ve got some new products coming out in November which will be bought by ANZ companies to implement Smart Grid. We’re bringing in moderators to monitor whole build systems and the whole digital video in stadiums is big for us.

We’re going to have to sell the total solutions story that we have been doing. Because if people want to deploy all this stuff they need a good network. So we need to sell that more, there’s a lot of competitors chipping away and we’ve got to be clear about what you’re buying and setting yourself up for.

Does Cisco want a piece of the mobile, smartphone space?

Not so much the handsets. We’re delivering video, no matter what the client is you get the same experience. Eden Park will eventually go into cellphone delivery of high quality video and services to repurpose the content the way you want to. We’ll be involved in the networking side of that. I know we have some things coming out in the client side but our area is much more about delivering the content.

Another big area for us is social networking for the enterprise. We have Quad and we’re trying to sell the ability to collaborate from any location on any device. There’s a site in Australia that’s trying it right now. It will be out in the next six months, but we haven’t really launched it properly yet.

Last but not least then, what’s your message to channel partners?

Looks for opportunities to climb up the value stream. Get out of the commodity area, take things that are hard to do and do them well. The guys competing against each other on products and price will potentially survive but they won’t thrive. The people doing thought leadership will thrive.

And figure out what you can do with the cloud...

Read part one of this interview here.

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