Cisco: Agility is the new superpower for IT
Agility is the new superpower for IT, was the message to delegates at Cisco’s Partner Summit where leaders shared strategies for building resilient organisations of the future.
“Changes are more unpredictable and faster than ever before,” Oliver Tuszik, Cisco’s SVP for global partner organisation, said at the summit. “And this can have a massive impact on your competitive situation. Agility is key to allow you to stay relevant.”
Being ready for an unpredictable future, highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and responding to change with speed, agility and resilience were some of the crucial talking points during the event.
“Everyone has to learn how to react more quickly,” said Todd Nightingale, Cisco’s SVP and general manager for enterprise networking and cloud during a Q&A session.
“Not just now through this change, but for years to come. The new measure by which technology groups will hold themselves is agility. That's why we've been talking so much about agility being the new superpower for IT.”
Ease of operation
Delegates heard how agility demands an infrastructure that enables you to navigate across multiple clouds, capture critical insights and detect and manage security threats. In that complex environment, ease of operation is key.
Jeetu Patel, SVP and general manager for security and applications, laid out some of the core concepts driving Cisco’s newest technologies. “One of the big areas that we are going to double down and focus on is simplicity,” he said.
Patel said, Cisco strives to make every experience 10x better, and the company is turning to emerging technologies to make it happen.
“We’ve made some formidable investments over the years in artificial intelligence and machine learning,” Patel said, “which have now started delivering their dividends with a great, great experience.”
An agile platform strategy
Cisco can help by deliver automation and insights through a focused set of agile platforms. This creates a simpler environment, and with greater simplicity comes increased agility and faster speeds.
“I’m talking about being able to transform your infrastructure with the click of a button,” Nightingale said, “We’re going to be delivering insights and automation and best-in-class agility through a platform strategy at Cisco.
“We will focus the dozens of different management products across our portfolio on a small number of high-value agile platforms. We’re talking about transforming our customer’s infrastructure, using DNA Centre, Meraki and vManage; securing their data using Secure X; empowering their teams using Webex, and re-imagining their applications with Nexus Dashboard, Intersight and AppDynamics.
It’s all about responding fast: to competitive changes, to customer demands or to unexpected events.
“Being truly agile, being able to react, is how we measure success,” said Nightingale. “At Cisco, we sent practically our entire workforce home over night, and it was only because of our IT agility that we were able to do that.”
“Agility is only really delivered through insights and automation,” Nightingale said.
“The ultimate in insights is end-to-end visibility. And that’s why we just purchased ThousandEyes. It really gives you unprecedented visibility across the entire experience from the user through the private networks, into the internet, all the way in, through the SAS clouds as well. That visibility is so, so crucial,” said Nightingale.
In an opening statement Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins reiterated Cisco’s core purpose: powering an inclusive future with technology innovation.
M&A activity key lever for future tech sector growth
Despite the continuing uncertainty of the pandemic, the tech sector has witnessed soaring dealmaking activity over the past year, rocketing in the second half of 2020, with the last quarter of 2020 a record one for M&A activity, and momentum continuing into 2021.
Dealmaking in tech sector soars in past year
And the latest figures bear this out with the number of technology M&A deals totalling US$208.44bn globally in Q1 2021, according to GlobalData. While the US holds top spot both in volume of deals (1034) and total value (US$140.61bn), Europe ranked next with 649 deals (US$44.49bn) with the UK continuing its reign as Europe’s biggest M&A market with 204 deals.
In particular, megadeals – those valued at US$5bn or more – soared in 2020 representing 59% of all global technology sector deal value in 2020, up from 47% in 2019, according to the latest edition of the EY Technology Global Capital Confidence Barometer.
This tech sector trend towards megadeals is backed up by EY’s CCB data, with 16% of tech sector respondents planning to pursue transformative deals valued at US$5bn or more in the near-term.
While technology deal activity “all but stopped at the beginning of 2020 after fluctuating between historic highs and lows, companies pivoted quickly and tech M&A exploded in the second half of the year”, says Barak Ravid, EY Global TMT Leader for Strategy and Transactions.
M&A activity level for tech sector growth
Looking ahead to the future, technology executives are optimistic, with nearly half (47%) expecting profitability to fully rebound this year, according to CCB data, compared to 23% across all sectors, and with more than half (51%) planning to pursue M&A in the next year in order to sustain growth.
According to Ravid, M&A activity is increasingly becoming a key lever for growth as businesses look to recover.
“To position themselves for future revenue growth, tech companies are now adjusting their M&A strategy to focus more on a target’s business resilience, digital technology alignment and to gain market share through consolidation,” says Ravid.
However, with an increasingly competitive deal market and ongoing geopolitical tensions, the majority of tech execs expect to see more competition in the bidding process for assets over the next year, primarily from private capital.