Cisco is planning for a stronger and more visible presence in SA, says new GM Clive Fynn. “People see Cisco as being about routing and hubs. But that's not the real Cisco – we are an IP [Internet Protocol] business centring on enabling technologies,” says Fynn, who was appointed with effect from 1 February. He replaces Mokati Ramphele, who resigned in May last year.

“SA is the most interesting, complex market we have,” says Mark de Simone, Cisco VP for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “And it is also one of our key markets. If our CEO talks about SA, it's important. The country has huge implications for the whole continent.”

He says this is why it took so long to appoint a successor to Ramphele. “We had to be careful to get a leader to take us along several axes. Our ambitions are to grow into several markets, so we wanted a leader who could take us there.”

As Cisco works with companies with transformational needs, the group needed someone to be able to translate technology and architectures into business processes.

“Part of our focus is on how to use processes and technologies to bring changes to businesses, including our business partners,” says Fynn, who has served in managerial capacities at companies such as IBM Global Services, Siemens Business Services and Waymark Infotech.

“We will also look at partnering with some of the new guys coming into the market – the SNO [second national operator], Virgin, and others like that.”

De Simone says Cisco is also moving into smaller enterprises in addition to the larger entities it serves. Research by the International Data Corporation globally, and by BMI-TechKnowledge locally, shows the small to medium enterprise market is growing strongly.

Other growth prospects for the group lie in telecoms, and also the consumer space. De Simone says Cisco will be seen to be more active in home entertainment using IP, particularly as broadband grows. It will also be seen in the IP television space.

Fynn says Cisco is committed to the process of transformation, as illustrated by the appointment of two consecutive black general managers, its procurement policy, and training and development.

“Today there are plans in place and we are moving in the right direction. Come a few months from now and see what it will look like.”

De Simone says Cisco also wants to take existing training initiatives to a new level. “We believe the industry in SA needs a new generation not just trained in technology, but also in business processes and how to apply that technology in business.”

The group is also adding to its staff numbers, says De Simone. “By the end of the fiscal year (August), 45% of our staff will be new, and that investment is likely to continue at the same pace. We are committed to winning larger percentages of ICT sales.”