The $48-billion networking major Cisco has trained its sights on two key priority areas to grow its business in the country.

“Smart Cities is a priority area for us. Creating products that not just serve the India market but also serve global markets, is another priority area for us,” Cisco’s Chief Technology & Strategy Officer Padmasree Warrior told BusinessLine .

Smart City solutions

Cisco’s 8,000-strong engineering team in Bengaluru is working on enabling Smart City solutions, innovating in core products and also supporting the larger product areas that the company is focused on globally, including data centre, cloud, security, mobility services and Internet of Things.

“Overall the priorities for Cisco India are growth, innovation and talent – We want to grow our business here, innovate out of India and build our talent base here. As a company Cisco is transitioning from a networking company to an IT leader. That means, we have to structure our product, sales and service teams differently and also build different things and sell them differently” she said.

Innovation strategy

Warrior believes that Cisco’s unique innovation strategy will help position the company as a software services and solutions leader.

Elaborating further, she said: “We have a very unique innovation strategy that has four components — build, buy, partner and integrate. As a company, we are always open to ideas, not just from within the company but from anywhere else in the world. When companies think of innovation, most of them buy or build; they either have a very strong organic innovation strategy or they acquire a lot of innovative companies. We do both; we invest a lot organically and buy a lot of innovation. Over the last 15 months, we have acquired 18 companies globally. We forge strategic partnerships globally.

“In India, we partner with L&T in the IoT space, and with ITL in the area of transportation for smart city deployment. We integrate our solutions with the partner solution to enable co-innovation.”

Of the $40-million India Fund to invest in early-stage firms Cisco announced last year, two investments have already been made. “We have invested in Covacsis, a Mumbai-based software company that provides IoT solutions for manufacturing and in Hyderabad-based IoT chip company, Ineda,” said Warrior.

India investment

Cisco typically invests $500,000 to $12 million on each start-up, and is open to acquire them if they are strategic enough.

“So far, not just out of the Fund, we have invested in 25 early-stage companies, which are 2-3 people companies. During this trip to India, I met a 20-year-old student from Manipal Institute of Technology who is building a 3D printer and another college student who has come up with an insulin pencil that keeps track of when people take insulin shots.

“We believe innovation can happen anywhere and encourage these entrepreneurs, invest in them, mentor them, connect them to VCs, Cisco’s IT resources, business leaders and network of partners and customers through major industry events such as Cisco Live.”