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December - 2007 - issue > Companies in the News
Cisco keeps its promises to India
Priya Pradeep
Friday, November 30, 2007
How fast is the future going to move?” was the concluding remark of John Chambers, Chairman and CEO, Cisco at the opening ceremony of Cisco’s Globalisation Centre East (GCE) Campus situated in Bangalore on October 30, 2007.

He sounded these words with reference to the trend that in the next decade computer power and speeds of net connections will change the nature of work. The future for companies like Cisco, as part of the larger ecosystem in which they operate in the world, is linked to four cornerstones of competitiveness — Education of the working force, Infrastructure, Innovation or Market Transition, and Supportive Governments. Cisco is concerned about these cornerstones as it seeks to optimize on the $1.16 billion investment plan for India that was announced in October 2005. The break up of this billion-dollar bonanza includes $750 million for research and development and $100 million for customer support.

The company employs over 3000 people across India, and the first phase of the $50 million Cisco GCE campus will initially be able to accommodate 1200 personnel. The campus also houses the largest datacentre of CA outside the U.S. and will provide a focal point for demonstrating next-generation virtualization technologies and service oriented network architectures that support customers’ global environments. Spread over 1.0 million square feet on the Outer Ring Road in Sarjapur, Bangalore, the first phase will accommodate the staff from Cisco’s Globalisation Centre, R&D, IT, and customer support teams in India. The second phase of the campus is expected to be completed by October 2009 and will house an additional staff of 2000.

“Unlike the earlier days we are operating in the new India for talent and growth, and not for cost or labor arbitrage,” said Chambers to the select gathering at the GCE opening ceremony presided over by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, former President of India. The Bangalore opening ceremony spilled out into the second day too where the Cisco TelePrescence product was exhibited.

Chambers was able to run up to the stage and at the push of a button, lo and behold, two Cisco executives from San Jose stood before him. It was virtual magic, courtesy the TelePrescence technology. The technology allows groups in different locations to meet around a virtual table. It consists of three units and each unit can hold two people. The entire assemblage costs $300,000. Thus the equipment enables greater personal business interaction, enabling better communication, as even subtle expressions are visible clearly. As a hub to support Cisco’s growth in emerging markets, the GCE will house multiple TelePresence facilities to help scale teams to support customer engagements globally.

Recognizing that emerging markets are hotspots for innovation economy, Cisco is extending venture investment initiative in India by another $100 million to drive growth with high-potential Indian companies. Thus, it is collaborating with Satyam Computer Services to explore a new venture investment focusing on optimizing, deploying, and managing integrated healthcare management solutions globally.

The flurry of plans proclaimed at the GCE ceremonies was capped with the announcement of the Cisco I-Prize, a competition open to entrepreneurs and innovators around the world. The winning team may have the opportunity to join Cisco as founders of a new emerging technology business unit. Depending on the value of the idea, Cisco may also invest up to $10 million over three years to fund the new business unit.

Cisco has actioned the promises made in 2005 to India, however there are miles to go to sustain the amplification of these actions towards growth.

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