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October - 2006 - issue > Tech Marketing
Breezing Through the Indian Market
Sohini Bagchi
Saturday, September 30, 2006
Capturing nearly 80 percent of the networking market in India, Cisco is growing at a
phenomenal rate. With strong domestic demand driving the networking industry, India has emerged as a significant contributor for Cisco.

Behind its enormous growth lay a few audacious brains and strategic investments that have taken business to the next level. Cisco recognized the importance of inflection point in the Indian market. In early 2003, the company decided on a strategy makeover.

At that time, Ranajoy Punja, who had worked in the U.S and Singapore markets of Cisco, stepped into the subcontinent to transform the company’s marketing strategy. With over 13 years of marketing and technical know-how in networking, he had the right kind of profile to drive the marketing strategy and help capture the business opportunity in the Indian market.

Punja made a difference, by treating India as a promising market across segments. The initial phase was spent mostly on evaluating the market, setting up marketing engine and resources to support the planned increase in marketing focus and investment. This was fine tuned over the last two years followed by strategic execution.

The hard work paid off and the result was for all to see. Indian enterprises, businesses and the government gradually started noticing the value of an end-to-end intelligent networking solution to drive IT strategy and business growth. This was a step up for Cisco.

It did not take long for Cisco to understand that companies were looking for a vendor that could provide a complete solution set to meet their business communication needs while keeping total cost of ownership in mind. The company was just waiting to capitalize on the growing need of this market. Punja says, “While technology is being viewed as a driver for increasing efficiency and global competitiveness, its role as a strategic business tool is still undervalued. The aim of Cisco’s marketing is to reduce this gap and position itself as a strategic partner to customers, and not just a supplier of product.”

Going by this rationale, Cisco adopted a vertical-specific approach. With service providers, ITeS, BFSI, manufacturing and government as its key verticals, Cisco affirms that ‘Verticalization’ was a defining ploy as it helped the company to ‘Go-to Market’ with industry specific solutions to deliver quality products and services and reduce their time to market.

With its earlier strategies based more on geographical growth, this change of strategy helped Cisco consolidate its position as a leader in the Indian networking industry. Cisco also expanded its product portfolio and marketing focus from core technologies like routers and switches to include advanced technologies such as IP telephony, wireless, network security, storage and optical and home networking to cater to both large enterprises and small and medium businesses (SMB).

Thus Cisco retained leadership and increased its market share in the above-mentioned products and services segment. It is interesting to note that while the overall enterprise equipment industry including modems, conferencing and services was valued at Rs 7,901 crore last year, Cisco saw a faster growth than the market with India sales revenue touching Rs 3,178 crore.

The company reaches out to customers through multiple communication channels such as PR, events, email, newsletters, and ad-campaigns. The messaging is specific to key vertical market segments. Expert teams from Cisco talk to key decision makers and showcase how intelligent network structure and architectural approach can help organizations run their businesses better.

The company is still experimenting with various marketing techniques for the SMB segment. Cisco’s ‘Go-to Market’ Strategy through channel partners has leveraged the power of networking technology for business growth. With the ‘success’ of its NoW (Network on Wheels) van, a mobile showcase of customized integrated networking solutions, Cisco is reaching out to 50 cities in India for building relationships and awareness, marketing with the partners outside the key metros.

The company however says that it has taken a non-reactive approach with its competitors. Cisco believes that being the market leader, its strategies force the competitors to react. But that doesn’t mean that Cisco is complacent. Marketing push and maintaining
leadership always remain the priority. The company learns a lot by observing and tracking competitors’ move and understanding the dynamics of growing market. ‘It’s good to keep an open eye, but not get too involved with the competitors’ move,’ says Punja.

With the results paying off, Cisco plans to take SMBs to the next level through joint marketing with partners. Cisco now commands five percent of total IT spending in India, up from three percent just three years ago. The investment in India has also gone up significantly. After John Chambers, President and CEO of Cisco made his visit to India last year and announced an investment totaling $1.1 billion, it further boosted the company’s growing importance of the Indian market.

Strong foundation, correct strategies and focused leadership being its mantra, Cisco wants to become the underpinning technology service provider to e-enable India become a superpower. Today with more Indian companies investing in IT and networking to adapt quickly to rapid market transitions, the company believes that day is not far.
The new logo too speaks volumes of the company’s unimaginable growth in the assorted market including the enterprise, commercial, service provider and now consumer space worldwide as well as in India. So what’s next? Cisco has already geared up to market its next evolution of networking to help collaboration.
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