The impact from the recent turmoil in the United States financial markets will be far reaching and will put the spotlight on productivity for business leaders, says Cisco’s Australia and New Zealand head.
Speaking at the annual Cisco Networkers 2008 conference in Brisbane last month, Les Williamson, vice-president of Cisco for Australia and New Zealand, highlighted productivity improvement as one of his four major objectives for the business over the next two years.
The other three are growing Cisco’s business in the health and in the education sectors and skills development.
The near collapse of the US financial markets have brought productivity issues into stark relief, says Williamson. “Productivity is what business leaders want to talk about. The massive transformation in the banking industry in the United States will ripple around the world. There would not be a single leader of any company big or small or any public enterprise that isn’t worried and looking at their own productivity models.”
Economic pressures are also resulting in changes in the way technology is acquired, with purchasing decisions no longer made in isolation as they need to meet business objectives, he says.
Cisco and its partners have to evolve their skills to address this change, he says. “We need to focus on skills at a human level, not just technical skills. We are aligning our skills and our partners towards the business to meet that.”
At the same time, the company plans to foster skills in its traditional markets of the top-end enterprise and government sectors.
Transforming the way health and education services are delivered in Australia and New Zealand is another opportunity for Cisco and its partners, says Williamson. “I think we have proved that early on with the New Zealand government and I think we will continue to do that.”
On the technology front he says Cisco will focus on three areas: video, unified communications and data centres, adding business unit heads and partners will be incentivised to overachieve in these areas. “We will invest in resources and skills, and incentives and rewards for partners to embrace these technologies.”
In a tightening economy these technologies provide opportunities for Cisco and its partners, Williamson adds. “We can enable productivity in every vertical and industry.”
Cisco backs up these claims by sharing data on the business improvements it has achieved by using its own technology internally, he says. “We have qualitative and quantitative data, we use as proof points to have discussions on how do you drive people to be inspired by what you do, informed about what you need to do, but productive as well – IT enables all of that.”
Although he sets the overall strategy for the Australian and New Zealand operation, Williamson leaves the execution of those plans to the local leadership team, headed by Geoff Lawrie. “We reflect the local market partner conditions and opportunities. Geoff’s go-to-market is purely based on New Zealand needs.”
• Louis van Wyk attended Networkers 2008 in Brisbane as a guest of Cisco.