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TMCNet:  Meet Cisco's India site leader, Shahpurwala [Strategy] [Times of India]

[December 10, 2012]

Meet Cisco's India site leader, Shahpurwala [Strategy] [Times of India]

(Times of India Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Faiyaz Shahpurwala calls it the Taj Mahal. Cisco's newest buildings -- known simply by numbers like 14, 15, 16 -- on its vast campus in Bangalore look like any other commercial building from the outside. But on the inside, they have incorporated some of the most advanced building technologies in the world -- many of them developed by Cisco itself in India -- to completely re-imagine the workspace. And Shahpurwala, as Cisco's India site leader, is the man leading the initiative.

Some floors incorporate global architectural elements. One of the most impressive is what's called The Park. It's based on the Park Guell in Barcelona designed by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. It has such a fairytale-like look that it is said a stroll through the Park Guell would awaken even the sleepiest imaginations, something that's important for Shahpurwala because innovation is what Cisco expects out of Bangalore , the city which the $46-billion California-based technology company has designated as its second headquarters.

Some floors have relaxation lounges with massage chairs and more, or playhouses with game consoles and billiard tables. Employees don't have dedicated spaces. But the moment an employee sits in a vacant space and logs into the internet protocol (IP)-based phone on the desk, the workspace transforms into his or her own.

If there's a digital frame in the space, it will automatically download a previously chosen pic, say, a family one. Everything is controlled through the IP phones, be it the AC, lighting, window blinds, and the audio-video systems.

Meeting rooms have to be booked online and the AC in the room will automatically come on a few minutes before the scheduled meeting time. Shahpurwala says these measures, combined with other power technologies, have improved the energy efficiency of the newer buildings by 30%, and highly efficient water fixtures have resulted in enormous water savings.

No Cisco building anywhere currently matches these standards. And Shahpurwala says he did it "to set an example that we can build the best from emerging countries, and we can innovate out of here, despite not having the best infrastructure".

Shahpurwala was born and brought up in Mumbai. When he was 18, he left for the US for a graduate programme . Cisco was his first job, straight out of college in 1992, as a technical services engineer. In 2001, he left Cisco to join a startup called Andiamo Networks, but two years later he found himself back in Cisco when it acquired Andiamo . Four years ago, he returned to India when Wim Elfrink, Cisco's chief globalization officer, moved to Bangalore to establish the Globalization Centre East.

Today, Cisco's innovative solutions have been extended to education and healthcare in India. Both segments use the network as a platform (Cisco is the world's largest networking company) with integrated audio-video, educational/medical devices and collaboration tools to deliver services to remote towns and villages.

"We have made a commitment to provide reach in vocational education and K-12 schools at a very reasonable cost. We are already delivering this in places like Hoskote, Raichur , Chitradurga and Shimoga in Karnataka, and Sehore, Datia, Gwalior and Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh. Students can talk to teachers online, lessons come online," he says.

Remote primary healthcare services are also being delivered similarly in tie-ups with healthcare providers. The initiatives seem to be getting good word of mouth. "The district collector of Shimoga got to know about what is happening in Raichur and he started something similar," Shahpurwala says.

Cisco uses a cloud-computing model. That means schools and healthcare centres can avoid buying expensive infrastructure and instead have to just pay a small subscription fee. "We will make money with the volumes, which should be possible here," Shahpurwala says.

Having established the robustness and scalability of the solutions, Cisco is now taking them pan-India and also overseas. The Indian team is working to bring the doctor's consultation fee in this model down to about $1. Shahpurwala is looking to take the solution even to the West. "The US has major healthcare issues, with insurance costs going through the roof," he says.

(c) 2012 Bennett, Coleman & Company Limited

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