Cisco: In­ter­net of Ev­ery­thing of­fers SEE com­pa­nies am­ple in­no­va­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties

Top 100 See - - See Innovations - By Ge­orgi Ge­orgiev

What eco­nomic and tech­no­log­i­cal trends are cur­rently shap­ing IT spend­ing in South­east Europe (SEE)?

The na­ture of spend­ing is chang­ing and we ex­pe­ri­ence this across all cus­tomer seg­ments. We see in­creased in­ter­est in tech­nolo­gies en­abling mo­bile ways of work­ing, in­clud­ing the bring-your-own-device trend. Cus­tomers are also look­ing into bring­ing ap­pli­ca­tions and ser­vices to the pri­vate cloud. Busi­nesses op­er­at­ing re­gion­ally, as well as sub­sidiaries of in­ter­na­tional and global com­pa­nies are in­ter­ested in how col­lab­o­ra­tion tech­nolo­gies can make com­mu­ni­ca­tion more ef­fi­cient across sup­ply chains, be­tween lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional head­quar­ters, as well as with end cus­tomers.

When it comes to up­com­ing trends, the In­ter­net of Things and In­ter­net of Ev­ery­thing (IoE) bear great op­por­tu­ni­ties for SEE, both for the pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tors. IoE is about the con­nec­tion of peo­ple, pro­cesses, data and

Broad­band con­nec­tiv­ity to en­able new mod­els of ser­vices in health­care in SEE

things, and the in­creased value that oc­curs as “ev­ery­thing” joins the net­work. Sev­eral tech­nol­ogy tran­si­tions, in­clud­ing the In­ter­net of Things, mo­bil­ity, cloud com­put­ing and big data are com­bin­ing to en­able IoE. Lots of in­no­va­tion is needed to make IoE a real­ity and this is an op­por­tu­nity for in­no­va­tive com­pa­nies in SEE, be it start-ups or more es­tab­lished play­ers.

How can the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor work closer to boost the rate of ab­sorp­tion of next-gen­er­a­tion tech­nolo­gies in the re­gion?

Gov­ern­ments can play a key role here both through reg­u­la­tions as well as de­mand gen­er­a­tion, such as new e-ser­vices. Ex­am­ples could be re­mote and e-gov­ern­ment ser­vices for ci­ti­zens and busi­nesses, e-ed­u­ca­tion or ehealth. At the same time, these ser­vices could help de­crease bu­reau­cracy and in­crease the ef­fi­ciency of pub­lic or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum Global In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy Re­port, SEE coun­tries are lag­ging be­hind be­cause of in­suf­fi­cient de­vel­op­ment of In­for­ma­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Tech­nol­ogy (ICT) in­fra­struc­ture, low lev­els of ICT up­take as well as weak­nesses in their in­no­va­tion sys­tems. These fac­tors hin­der us to fully en­joy the ben­e­fits that can come from ICT. I see it as a joint re­spon­si­bil­ity but also a joint op­por­tu­nity for the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor to come to­gether and ad­dress these is­sues.

What level of in­ter­est do you see among lo­cal gov­ern­ments in SEE to learn from the ex­pe­ri­ence of coun­ter­parts around the world that are mount­ing suc­cess­ful smart city ini­tia­tives?

I have met with sev­eral may­ors from the re­gion who clearly un­der­stand the role and po­ten­tial of tech­nol­ogy and are closely mon­i­tor­ing what some of their col­leagues do in Europe and across the globe. Last year, for ex­am­ple, Ljubl­jana hosted a con­fer­ence of chief in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cers and IT lead­ers of the Ma­jor Cities of Europe or­ga­ni­za­tion. Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent study from Cisco about the po­ten­tial eco­nomic ben­e­fits of IoE, we found that cities will gen­er­ate al­most two-thirds of IoE's over­all civil­ian ben­e­fits glob­ally. The po­ten­tial value for cities is around $1.9 tril­lion over the next decade and cities can cap­ture much of this value by im­ple­ment­ing “killer apps”, such as smart build­ings, mon­i­tor­ing of util­i­ties via smart me­ter­ing, smart park­ing, waste col­lec­tion, water man­age­ment and oth­ers. How­ever, when it comes to Smart City projects, there is no “one size fits all” so­lu­tion. We need to look at each city and find out how tech­nol­ogy can ad­dress their spe­cific needs and chal­lenges. In case of Ham­burg, for ex­am­ple, the port is at the heart of the lo­cal econ­omy. Hence, sev­eral of their Smart City ini­tia­tives are fo­cus­ing on port oper­a­tions and smart traffic pi­lots in and around the port area.

On the back­drop of the con­tin­u­ing squeeze on pub­lic spend­ing across SEE, what op­por­tu­ni­ties do you see to en­gage gov­ern­ments in the re­gion in pro­mot­ing re­mote health care ser­vices?

Some ex­perts ar­gue that the next revo­lu­tion in health care is not about medicine. It is about us­ing in­for­ma­tion and tech­nol­ogy to drive safe and ef­fi­cient pa­tient care. Re­mote health care ser­vices are a key part of this shift and can help ad­dress many of the is­sues our coun­tries face to­day: bring­ing care to re­mote ar­eas, ag­ing pop­u­la­tion and the lack of doc­tors or spe­cial­ists. As broad­band con­nec­tiv­ity is built out across SEE, it en­ables new mod­els of ser­vices in health care, but also other cit­i­zen ser­vice ar­eas, such as re­mote ed­u­ca­tion. IoE has an im­por­tant role to play here. Think of blood pres­sure mon­i­tors and other sen­sors send­ing data au­to­mat­i­cally to doc­tors who can eas­ily and se­curely track pa­tient records and pro-ac­tively in­ter­vene if needed, even be­fore a pa­tient no­tices some­thing is wrong.

What po­ten­tial does the small- and medium-sized en­ter­prise (SME) sec­tor have to fuel the re­gion's longer-term eco­nomic growth? In this con­text, how cru­cial is it for SMEs to keep abreast of tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances?

In to­day's econ­omy, most SMEs are part of sup­ply chains and one of the key suc­cess fac­tors is how they can ef­fi­ciently com­mu­ni­cate and col­lab­o­rate real-time with their sup­pli­ers, cus­tomers and part­ners. As con­sump­tion mod­els in IT are shift­ing to­wards the cloud, this opens up great op­por­tu­ni­ties for SMEs to ac­cess cut­ting-edge in­for­ma­tion tech­nolo­gies, with­out hav­ing to make ma­jor in­vest­ments. So my ad­vice to SMEs is to think of IT and tech­nol­ogy as a strate­gic part of their busi­ness, and not only some back of­fice func­tion. And if I may give an­other piece of ad­vice: watch out for the IoE trend and what it can bring to your busi­ness. As men­tioned be­fore, lots of in­no­va­tion is needed to make IoE a real­ity and this opens great op­por­tu­ni­ties to in­no­va­tive SMEs in the re­gion. At Cisco, we have ini­ti­ated sev­eral new pro­grams to foster in­no­va­tion and sup­port tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing ven­ture cap­i­tal of­fer­ings, start-up com­pe­ti­tions and our Cisco Net­work­ing Academy pro­gramme.

What mo­men­tum are you see­ing be­hind the take-up rate for cloud ser­vices in the SEE re­gion?

As men­tioned be­fore, small and medi­um­sized en­ter­prises (SMEs) have emerged as a key driver of de­mand for cloud ser­vices in the SEE re­gion as they seek to ab­sorb cut­tingedge tech­nol­ogy and get in­te­grated into the global sup­ply chains

Which SEE in­dus­tries are lead­ing the cloud push?

Tele­com ser­vice providers are re­al­iz­ing there is a big market in the re­gion for sell­ing cloud ser­vices to SMEs and are ac­tively work­ing on build­ing up know-how and cloud ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

E-gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tives can play key role in boost­ing ab­sorp­tion of new tech­nolo­gies The cloud opens up great op­por­tu­ni­ties for SMEs to ac­cess cut­ting-edge in­for­ma­tion tech­nolo­gies

In ad­di­tion to SMEs, an­other area where we see ris­ing de­mand for cloud ser­vices in SEE is the pub­lic sec­tor. Quite a few coun­tries have started ini­tial anal­y­sis how these ser­vices could be de­ployed prop­erly and we are try­ing to en­gage to see where we can work with them.

Peter Ha­jdu, Cisco gen­eral di­rec­tor for South­east Europe

Cal­i­for­nia-based Cisco de­signs, man­u­fac­tures and sells In­ter­net Pro­to­col-based net­work­ing and other tech­nolo­gies re­lated to the ICT in­dus­try and pro­vides ser­vices associated with these prod­ucts and so­lu­tions. Ap­prox­i­mately 70% of the world’s In­ter­net traffic flows through Cisco net­works. The com­pany has more than 70,000 em­ploy­ees world­wide and 380 of­fices in more than 165 coun­tries. Cisco spends nearly $6.0 bil­lion a year on R&D.

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