“We’re in the business of doing this but if you look at the level just below the connectivity, it begins to become more complex, and that’s why we’re also entering uncertain times.”
Why so complex?
“The reason why its complex?” asks Lawrie, who has also played a senior role in Cisco’s business strategy development across the A/NZ region.
“Well, there’s a number of factors. The biggest one for me is security. Just as we are starting to understand the incredible benefits of being connected, and how this improves lifestyle and education in the economy, the risks are becoming apparent.
“So much so that I believe security is the biggest force in the industry, the counter force holding the market back.”
While continuing the battle to make security a proactive enabler, as opposed to a barrier, Lawrie also cites the cost of connectivity as a key area of complexity, admitting, “it costs a lot of money, an incredible amount.”
“If you add up what is being spent by the mobile operators in New Zealand, such as Spark and Vodafone, they spend tends of million dollars ensuring 4G capacity yet they are seeing average revenues decline,” he adds.
“It can be an incredibly challenging business model, particularly when you’re addressing an audience which has an expectation - one of complexities is how these operators are changing their business models to make this a paying proposition.
“There is an enormous focus on content at present and quality differentiation across services which adds another layer of complexity to the market.”
Citing the rise of the cloud computing, and its explosion across New Zealand during the past twelve months especially, Lawrie believes the whole issue of cloud has impacted how organisations and people use technology more so than any other contributing factor during the past 30 years alone.
“In my view, the opportunity in the industry around cloud has almost nothing to do with technology,” he adds. “We’ve had the capacity to centralise computing that is done at scale for decades, okay not with the sophistication of virtualisation but the notion that you could centralise IT is not new.
“What I believe is the biggest shift, and what’s driving the cloud market in New Zealand, is that it now shifts the risk and responsibility of a complex area which many organisations struggle to understand, to a third party.”
In measuring the impact of cloud on the Kiwi market, Lawrie says because cloud is a global play, this creates “enormous challenges and implications” for the New Zealand ICT industry.
“One of the scenarios is that we just become the tail end on the circuit of some global player,” Lawrie speculates. “There needs to be a role for New Zealand in that market place but against the huge opportunity that connectivity is driving, there are other disruptions and changes that need to happen which means this won’t be plain sailing.”
Fitting it should be that as Lawrie expands Cisco’s Kiwi offerings, including its enviable networking portfolio, CEO John Chambers continues to transform the company at a global level also, instigating a significant shift away from the vendor’s ‘one-trick pony’ status, to a more well-rounded, well-oiled machine.
In documenting plans to take down long-time partner turned industry rival VMware, Chambers’ is unwavering in his belief that Cisco can fend off the competition; “We will beat them and have fun doing it. I wish I was a better person, but I’m not.”
Personalities aside however, Chambers is taking Cisco into a new era of ICT, safe in the knowledge that in New Zealand, under the guidance of Lawrie, the vendor’s keeping up the pace.