Cisco, a US-based global leader in networking for internet and technology, saw three times higher business growth in the last quarter of 2019 in Bangladesh compared to that in India.
In a short interview with The Business Standard, Cisco's Managing Director for India and Saarc region Sudhir Nayar focused on creating a skilled and empowered team.
With 30 plus business management experiences in the technology industry, Sudhir talked about the promises and challenges of Bangladesh's Information Technology (IT) sector.
Could you walk us through Cisco's business in Bangladesh?
We have been providing IT services in Bangladesh since 1998.
Now we have thousands of customers here using 12,000 plus systems. For us, Bangladesh was the fastest growing country in the Saarc region in 2019.
In the last quarter of 2019, Cisco's growth in Bangladesh was three times higher than that in India. Although the company's revenue was not that high, it gave Cisco a vital sign of Bangladesh's market. We doubled our workforce and office space here to accommodate our expanding operations.
Who are Cisco's top customers in Bangladesh?
The Bangladesh government is the leading consumer of the company's technology, while 88 percent banks and financial institutions use Cisco's technology.
Cisco powers the national data centre, e-passport programme, and 80 percent of internet connections in government offices.
How is Cisco supporting small and medium enterprises to go digital?
To facilitate the digitalisation of businesses and help them serve global customers, Cisco has introduced products specifically designed for small and medium enterprises that provide them access to simple, secure, and smart enterprise-class technologies.
Bangladesh now has a demographic dividend. What is Cisco's take on that?
Educating students is our priority programme all over the world. As a technology company, we help students understand the technology and make things easy for them. You have everything covered when you have an educated workforce.
We have set up 15 networking academies across Bangladesh to train students in new-age technologies, and 38,000 students have received training so far. Cisco plans to increase it to 50,000 by 2020.
Data privacy and security is one of the biggest threats today. As an IT company, how can Cisco ensure customers' data privacy?
Data security is at the heart of every single technology. Cisco ensures data security in all of its services – whether it is a network, data centre, or collaboration. We have a full-fledged security architecture. It is not like we are just selling products and saying ''you are secure''.
We have the largest man and machine combined centre in the USA. It tracks emerging global trends and threats every single minute. As soon as we sense there is a threat, we start working on protecting our customers. When we find a solution to that threat, we send an update to our customers requesting them to be updated.
Also, if there is an incident, we have an arrangement to fix the problem with the best global experts, whom we call quick incident resolvers.
What are the challenges that Cisco noticed in Bangladesh during its two decade-plus operations?
The shortage of a technically trained workforce is the main barrier we experienced over the years. It is also the main challenge in all developing countries.
We need more skilled people. For that, the education system has to be more practical and experience-based.
What are the opportunities that Cisco has on the cards for the Bangladeshi workforce?
We want to digitalise 6 million people and thousands of companies in Bangladesh. Every company wants a trained workforce.
Youths with practical training and exposure to digital technology have the chance to work with us, regardless of their background.
Many of the financial organisations of our country are vulnerable to technological threats. What is Cisco doing about that?
We conduct knowledge sharing sessions to educate our technology subscribers. We are very active on our website, where we put a lot of resources there for customers.
Which industries are your priority sectors in Bangladesh?
My priority is any company that wants to go digital. They may be from different sectors –banking, finance, government, manufacturing, hotels, and hospitals. All are my priority.