As chief information officer for Cisco’s international operations and SVP of IT, V.C. Gopalratnam is responsible for digital transformation within the networking giant. His responsibilities include showcasing cutting-edge technologies to customers from across the world. Chasing such goals, Mr. Gopalratnam said that he saw a huge opportunity to sell Cisco’s technology to the Indian government as well as to large and small firms in India.

“[The] government is the biggest part of that [opportunity] because it has the ability to impact the country at scale,” said Mr. Gopalratnam in an interview. India is one of the countries that is part of Cisco’s country digitization acceleration (CDA) programme. He said the firm, whose machines form the backbone of the Internet, is providing support for the national broadband efforts, creation of smart cities and modernisation of defence and army. “India is one of the countries around the world that is digitising the fastest. And I don’t think it’s going to slow down,” he said.

Boosting GDP

By 2021, the digital transformation will add an estimated $154 billion to India’s gross domestic product (GDP), and increase the growth rate by 1% annually, according to a joint study by Microsoft and IDC Asia Pacific.

The research, “Unlocking the Economic Impact of Digital Transformation in Asia Pacific,” predicts a dramatic acceleration in the pace of digital transformation across India and Asia-Pacific economies. In 2017, about 4% of India’s GDP was derived from digital products and services created directly through the use of digital technologies, such as mobility, cloud, Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence, it says.

‘Rebirth of the network’

“All of those will not survive without a network… you can call it the rebirth of the network,” said Mr. Gopalratnam, an alumnus of Purdue University. “And that’s why I think our partnership with the government is so important.”

Benoy C. S., director and head, digital transformation, at research firm Frost & Sullivan, said network remains the key foundation for any ‘digital transformation’ initiatives of the government.

“Cisco is eyeing to tap into this networking opportunity at a very large scale in the country,” he said, adding for smart city-related projects, the company is already a big player in developed markets with successful use cases. Also, in India, fibre reach is very poor, especially in rural areas and tier 2 and tier 3 cities, “this is where Cisco is looking at playing a key role through its wireless network services,” he said.

Cisco said it had also developed a digital transformation blueprint for the banking and financial services sector in India.

The blueprint leverages the power of Cisco’s intent-based networking (IBN) portfolio, to integrate connectivity, security, automation, collaboration, and analytics across the business value chain.

Cisco is also planning to acquire or partner with innovative start-ups in the country. “There are a lot of capable companies in India which are working in technologies that are of interest to Cisco,” said Mr. Gopalratnam. “It doesn’t always have to be an acquisition, it can be partnering with them, investing or incubating them.”

(The writer was in Goa at the invitation of Cisco)

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