Cisco rallies partners for vertical push

Anas Sawaf, channel business development manager for tourism, real estate and construction (TREC) at Cisco reveals why a channel ecosystem is key to targeting one of the region’s biggest verticals.

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By  Andrew Seymour Published  December 4, 2006

|~|anas_sawaf200.jpg|~|Anas Sawaf, Cisco|~|Anas Sawaf, channel business development manager for tourism, real estate and construction (TREC) at Cisco reveals why a channel ecosystem is key to targeting one of the region’s biggest verticals.

CME: How long have you been in charge of the channel for the real estate and construction vertical?

Anas Sawaf: For about one year — since the inception of the unit. It’s a newly established division with the purpose of building a vertical and of course providing value around our solutions and to clients in the real estate, hospitality and construction industry.

CME: Why did you decide to group those sectors into one vertical?

AS: In the past, Cisco had pretty much a horizontal offering. But recently, with the market sophistication and the advancement of applications across multiple sectors, it is forcing the whole industry to go into more verticalisations. Today we are seeing solutions which are more vertical-oriented and Cisco is definitely the leader in penetrating different verticals across multiple layers of business.

CME: You recently held the inaugural Cisco ecopartner forum for the hospitality and real estate sector in Dubai. What kind of partners attended that event?

AS: Three kinds of partners. We had what we call traditional partners which are the IP savvy partners who historically penetrate the generic ICT industry. Then we have another group of partners, which have vertical knowledge and industry integration skills — building management systems or audiovideo control for example. And thirdly, we had application partners, which provide the applications on top of the IP infrastructure. Cisco’s portfolio is putting the strength of all three partner-types together, with the purpose of providing tenants, consultants, contractors and developers with a different experience in terms of collaboration and products.

CME: What was the objective of the forum you held?

AS: The objective was twofold. Firstly, it was to give channel partners and industry influencers — such as architects — an insight into the latest technology trends that are taking place in the real estate, construction and hospitality sector. Secondly, it had a commercial and business orientation because we introduced a network of application providers to our existing channel partners so that they can go together to market with Cisco.

CME: How important is a fully-functioning partner ecosystem to your business?

AS: At the end of the day, Cisco’s offering consists of the strength and value proposition that our Gold, Silver and Premier partners have — as well as the application provider — in addition to the strength of our own services and technology. It is a combination of several valuables: channel, technology and applications.

CME: Why did you choose Dubai as the location for your TREC event?

AS: What Cisco is doing is setting a trend for tourism, real estate and construction across multiple portfolios and layers of businesses. What better place than Dubai to start that? The potential Dubai market in terms of pure construction is around one trillion dollars — that’s a thousand billion. Our ambitions are very high; we are very optimistic about the market and what Dubai has to offer to our application and channel partners in terms of business opportunities.

What we have done is something that has never been done by Cisco. It is the first time that such an event has taken place on a global basis and it will be replicated across multiple geographies.

CME: How do you see the TREC sector shaping up?

AS: Most of the developments or residential projects today tend to compete on space or landscape, but the future of buildings and properties will be about competing on a totally different scale. They are going to be competing on digital services, digital media services, specialised security, e-commerce capabilities and e-business capabilities.

CME: What is your message to channel partners that might be interested in the real estate, hospitality and construction sector?

AS: Our message is that IP convergence with the building management, communication and business systems is taking place as we speak. The industry is booming in Dubai and across the region and a serious attention and investment needs to be in place. Partners need to adapt and put in place a business strategy and plan to take advantage of this opportunity otherwise they will miss the boat.||**||

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