The Six Five In The Booth with Cisco at Mobile World Congress 2023

By Patrick Moorhead - March 3, 2023

On this episode of The Six Five – In the Booth, hosts Daniel Newman and Patrick Moorhead welcome Masum Mir, SVP/GM Cisco Networking: Provider Mobility.

Their discussion covers:

  • Cisco’s MWC announcements
  • Industrial Transformation Powered by Mass-scale IoT, and how IoT is transforming the world
  • Cisco’s CSP Success Model with Cisco Platform Approach
  • Key partners in their success
  • The future for Cisco

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You can watch the full video here:

You can listen to the conversation here:

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Patrick Moorhead: Hi, this is Pat Moorhead and The Six Five is live in the Cisco Booth at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. And you can hear in the background hopefully all the action of this show. And this year is a big year. I mean, Dan, doesn’t 2023 seem like a bigger year than 2022?

Daniel Newman: It just feels like we’re back to normal. And yeah, hopefully they can hear some of the background and get that energy that’s going on here. But at the same time, we’ve got a great in the booth show today. We’re going to be talking to a repeat guest.

Patrick Moorhead: Yes.

Daniel Newman: Coming back.

Patrick Moorhead: Six Five veteran.

Daniel Newman: A veteran, an alumnus of the Six Five, and we’re going to be talking a little bit about what’s going on at Cisco.

Patrick Moorhead: Absolutely. Masum, thanks for coming on the show again today. Great to see you.

Masum Mir: Thank you for having me.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah, it was great catching up in the green room, I guess you could call it, talking about our busy schedules, but I think busy is good and particularly in this time, customers are looking for key value propositions, however they can help their customers driving revenue. So maybe we can just start off the top. I mean, what did you announce here at Mobile World Congress?

Masum Mir: There’s a lot to unpack, but I’ll just talk a little bit about what we really announced; how we are going to help our customers find net new revenue.

Patrick Moorhead: Here we go.

Masum Mir: And most importantly, how do we help our customers to do it in a sustainable way? And how do we simplify the experience of the end user, a.k.a your consumer experience, the business user’s experience. We want to make it seamless regardless of whatever technology they want to use.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah, that’s great.

Daniel Newman: It’s really good that Masum brought up revenue because in this year, you and I have talked so much about kind of a year of austerity, a year of more pragmatic thinking in business. We had a couple of really booming years and the pandemic brought a lot of challenges, Pat, but it actually also brought a ton of growth into tech, tons of investment in digital transformation. And now that the economy’s a little bit more shaky, we’re kind of seeing companies coming back and saying, “We need to think more about how is all this investment driving return?” So Masum, I’m really glad that’s what you’re hearing. Talk a little bit about the industrial transformation and how it’s being powered by mass scale infrastructure.

Masum Mir: So why don’t we first start with, we have gone through a massive transformation in our IT on digitization as well as cloud adoption. But now if you also look forward, whereas the next big wave is really on the physical space, so every business, they think about the front line of the businesses, those physical spaces are still not fully digitized. That creates the next opportunity for every business to think differently, adopt technology. And we believe both Wi-Fi 6 and 5G is going to play a critical role to digitize the physical world. And we believe on this digitization of the physical world is going to play a critical role on accelerating growth and drive more sustainability across many industries. Mostly, you will see some of it starting to happen in energy market, in transportation market, but it is an opportunity in every market over time.

Daniel Newman: And you’re really talking about IoT too and you’re leaning into that here.

Masum Mir: Absolutely, yeah. Because when you think about the physical space, you have to bring space, things and people together. So we cannot think IoT in isolation, but think about people and IoT in one sentence.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah. I like the way, strategically, how you’ve put people and the IoT together. I mean, when you step back, they’re all connected and they don’t necessarily need to be connected uniquely and differently. There are some ways you can do that I think is very efficient and very smart. What I’m really excited about the industrial IoT today is that it’s becoming more of a reality. Right? Instead of every one of these being a bespoke rollout, there are some customer stories that other companies, and you know, companies typically don’t want to be first, whether that’s smart transportation, smart logistics, smart factory, smart anything right now. We have a better track record for that. So Cisco brings a certain value add to the table, but you also work with CSPs, particularly around wireless. And I’m curious, what is your model of working with the CSPs?

Masum Mir: Number one, I have to say that these problem areas are very vast and we cannot do it alone. We have to work with ecosystems of partner. Let’s be very specific about CSPs. In this physical space digitization, we know cellular and mobile technology’s going to play a critical role. And all our CSPs have many years of experience deploying cellular technology, mobile technology, and building very large distributor networks. So definitely we see tremendous amount of value bringing that experience and expertise, oftentimes bringing spectrum that is needed to solve this connectivity problem. They definitely play a big role, and we will be playing hand in hand with the CSPs as we go and digitize the physical world.

Daniel Newman: Yeah. Now, you said something as you started talking about the CSPs, and you talked about your ecosystem, you talked about your partners, you talked about you can’t go at it alone. Can you talk a little bit about that whole partner ecosystem and maybe some of the key partners that are really helping you drive this next wave?

Masum Mir: Absolutely. CSPs are going to be a key partner here, but also as you go into these industries, the industry experience and expertise, not only the tech but also business processes is super important. So, many of our system integration partners, we have already announced a few of them who are becoming our partner who has the industry expertise. They have deep domain knowledge. Also, they come with this practice of taking complex technology and taking all the complexity away through managed services. So Entity – we announced our partnership with Entity, will provide a managed service using our private 5G solution in many countries. I think they’re starting with 47 different countries. Entity is one. We announced Logicalis last year. This is one type of partnership. The other side of the partnership, we have to work with very wide set of radio ecosystem. We recently announced addition of NEC partnership on the radio side. We’ll continue to expand that, but we also have to think about device ecosystem, what happens on the edge as you think about the physical space. We also announced another partnership with Intel to power the edge processing with Intel technology and Xeon processors on the edge of the infrastructure.

Patrick Moorhead: Oh, I love that. It’s classic Cisco. I mean, Cisco has been a partner first company since its existence and it’s great to see that continue. So Masum, one of the mistakes some press and analysts make is they look at this IoT world as a horizontal, but the reality is it’s a lot of different verticals. And I’m curious, could you share with some of our viewers, what are some of the vertical areas of heat and light that seem robust and exciting right now?

Masum Mir: One vertical that we feel very excited about is transportation. And in transportation, let’s take one part of the transportation with the vehicles and the cars. It’s electrification of the vehicle, the connected vehicle to improve driver safety, to improve reliability, to drive a sustainable outcome is getting digitized super fast. So if you just think about transportation and starting with the digitization of the cars and the experience of the car user and the fleet managers is moving really fast. We are super excited about it. We’re also seeing similar movement happening in digitization of your energy grids, not only production but also distribution, and many, many of the customers that are actually working with us on accelerating that digitization journey. The third is we see that there is a lot of discussion around digitizing or manufacturing. So lot of new fabrication lab that is being built are going to be built with modern thinking on full digitization of manufacturing processes. So these are the three vertical that we believe are going to be the first movers, and we are so glad to work with our partners and ecosystem to help our customers to make that big difference and take a leap.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, it’s really interesting because, well, first of all, the manufacturing, you’re bringing it to life, but you’re also… You know, we hear a lot about things like in metaverse and stuff, but these are the actual real applications where you’re going to see digital twin become real examples of what this whole metaverse narrative has kind of been. It’s not about your social media. That’s just not what it’s really going to be. I also love that you talked about the automotive space, because-

Patrick Moorhead: Oh, and I love the examples too that they’re such hard areas because you have diverse needs all the way from high performance, low latency to something you might want to ping once a week or something. And the diversity of communications across those are huge challenges and it’s technically cool to see the areas of what Cisco’s in across that span, you addressing those needs.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, absolutely. I was just thinking how many of our vendors that we’ve worked with for years that have, one, started this whole verticalization process and really leaned into that, but also gone into automotive though. When you say that, it’s like, oh my gosh. We suddenly became automotive analysts over the last few years and we’ve seen software defined vehicles and network vehicles.

Patrick Moorhead: That’s right.

Daniel Newman: So it’s been really interesting. Masum, we’ve only got a minute or two left, so love to give you the floor. Is there anything else with the Six Five audience that you’d love to share about what’s going on here at MWC or just in general over the business you’re leading?

Masum Mir: We are definitely… It’s great to be here in person with so many of our customers and partners. It’s great to see that our customer priorities are still strong on continuous investment in technology. But we are also seeing a lot of these pragmatic conversation, not just tech for tech. Tech to solve real world problem, to help us become a lot more sustainable in every industry. Also accelerating digitization to improve productivity in the market, improving safety. So it’s great to be here and having all this conversation. One piece, the last piece I might want to talk about, we talk about IoT, we talk about different type of complex technology and 5G. We don’t talk enough about complexity that brings to IT and OT operation. If there is one piece that we wanted to talk about, you either to look horizontally or vertically, it is our obligation to design out complexity. If we want to drive adoption of this technology, we have to design out complexity. We have to make everything simpler, both for consumer as well as enterprises to move faster.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah. Those are sage words, Masum, and I’m glad you brought up IT versus OT. From an analyst point of view, sometimes I think, “Oh, we’ve been talking about that for 12 years.” In fact, we wrote an initial white paper segmenting the IoT 12 years ago. We talked about IT and OT systems. I think the good news is the vernacular. I think it is getting a lot more respect for OT, and OT is getting a lot more respect for IT. And they’re seeing the true value to help their own companies is when the two of them to come together. But also, I see what Cisco is doing to simplify that process and get people talking on the same page. So Masum, thanks so much for coming on the show. A Six Five veteran. We’d love to do an update with you at the next big show to see how things are going. Thank you.

Daniel Newman: All right, thanks, Masum. And everybody, thank you for tuning into this episode of this Six Five. It’s in the booth at the Cisco booth at MWC 2023 here in Barcelona. For Patrick Moorhead and myself, we appreciate you tuning in. Hit that subscribe button, check out all the content that we’ve created here, and of course our regular Friday show, our summit, and everything else we do on the Six Five. But for now, for Pat, for myself, we got to go. Bye now.

Patrick Moorhead

Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.