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The Six Five In the Booth with Cisco at Mobile World Congress 2022
by Daniel Newman | March 8, 2022

At Mobile World Congress 2022, Six Five hosts Daniel Newman and Patrick Moorhead are joined by Masum Mir, Cisco’s Vice President and General Manager, and Shaun McCarthy, Cisco’s VP, World Wide Sales, MIG. Their conversation centers on Cisco’s focus and continued move into private 5G.

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Transcript:

Patrick Moorhead: Hi. This is Pat Moorhead with Moor Insights & Strategy, and we are here for a Six Five In the Booth at Mobile World Congress. We’re currently in the Cisco booth with Masum and Shaun. How are you guys?

Shaun McCarthy: Hey, Patrick. Great.

Masum Mir: Great.

Patrick Moorhead: And introducing our famous co-host Daniel Newman, as well.

Daniel Newman: Hey, guys. How we doing?

Masum Mir: Great.

Shaun McCarthy: Fantastic.

Daniel Newman: Really appreciate you guys doing this with us. We know how crazy it is. Great to be back. Great to be live, in-person, at this event. This has always been one of my favorites. Once you get over the jet lag, right?

Masum Mir: Yeah.

Daniel Newman: But big day. I mean, you look around on the floor, you see a lot of activity. They’re saying about half the attendance. But by next year, I think we’ll be fully back. But Cisco here has a lot going on, a lot to talk about, and so we’re really excited to get into that with you.

So, start here. One of the big things I see Cisco focusing on at this particular event has private 5G. The market’s been talking about it for a while, but clearly the momentum’s picked up and you guys are leaning in hard. Talk a little bit about that decision to move more and more into private 5G.

Masum Mir: I’ll start. Look, last two years, we had a very, very strange warrant, but now we are starting to think about, “Okay, what is next?” Hybrid work is the new normal, but hybrid work not only for remote workers and the knowledge workers. So, you have to think about hybrid work for everyone. And it really brings this point home that it’s about connecting people and space and things all together. And there’s so much happening in this space. Wi-Fi is coming with new technology. Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E. New refresh happening on your security architecture. And almost all the enterprises are looking into what 5G can do for me. So, we felt this is the time, as enterprise looks into the next big investment cycle, we bring 5G, with the simplicity of enterprise consumption. This was the right time to bring it to market along with Wi-Fi 6E. Yeah.

Shaun McCarthy: No, I agree. And if you look at our presence in the mobile core space and service provider networks today, we obviously have a lot of credibility there. We’ve got a big presence in the enterprise space, so naturally customers have been talking to us about private 5G and some of the things they want to do for a while now. But I want to say, we really want to be thoughtful about how we bring the solution to market, because you really got to bring a simple and a consumable solution to the enterprise space. You don’t want to just take 3GPP and a service provider packet core network and shove it into the enterprise. You’ve got all these three letter acronyms. You’ve got your UPFs and your PCFs and your AMFs. Customers don’t care about that. Right? They care about improving their manufacturing process and taking cost and efficiencies and leveraging technology for those reasons.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah. So, I would like to do a double-click on the customer side. I know you brought out a couple of their needs, but what are they telling you? What are they asking for? And I think we’ve been through this multiple G’s. I heard of private 4G and there was even talk of a private 3G. What’s driving the demand for this?

Shaun McCarthy: Yeah. I mean, listen, it’s obviously different as you go market segment it by market segment, and clearly private 5G solutions are really about the use case, right? So we spend a lot of time in different segments. Manufacturing’s a big one, healthcare, transportation, utilities; and each of those, they all have their goals, what they think they can do to get out of the technology. But if I were to up-level a bit in really common themes, oftentimes the conversation comes out with like, “Hey, we’re going to get rid of everything we have. We’re going to start over with private 5G.”

And quickly, you realize that what you really want to do is use the right tool for the right job. And so, we found that almost all, if not all, of our engagements are a combination of private 5G and Wi-Fi 6. And I can tell you what customers don’t want. Customers don’t want to have swivel chair. They don’t want to have two separate systems. Right? And so, that’s what we’re really thoughtful about what we brought to the table, is bringing a complete solution that you can leverage the same set of tools and capabilities across the spectrum of 5G and Wi-Fi 6.

Patrick Moorhead: So the proverbial single-pane glass.

Shaun McCarthy: Yeah. That’s really what the customers want.

Masum Mir: And sometimes we forget, this is afterthought, that we build a new infrastructure and they’ll say, “What happened to my identity and security?” This afterthought cannot be an afterthought. All the enterprises are telling us it needs to be a continuum, not a disruption. It’s super important for us to pay attention that Wi-Fi and 5G coexist, and it comes in enterprise terms. They have full visibility, full control, most importantly, common identity across any access type.

Daniel Newman: It kinds of comes down to: we don’t really actually want to build the plane while flying it. No matter how many people say that in business meetings. It’s a terrible idea. Right? You got to kind of have these two things moving in motion together and you’re advancing and concurrently working on what’s reliable. That’s why it’s been so good when we’ve had devices that can flip networks very seamlessly. And then, of course, we know how bad it is when they don’t.

So, Cisco’s legacy in networking is pretty undisputed. The company has a great reputation in the space. As analysts though, one of the things that we’re tracking really closely are pivots to service, right? Public cloud has probably put the biggest lens on this. And then, of course, large legacy IT players are all kind of under the microphone and saying, in the spotlight, “What are you doing? How are you changing?” And of course, Cisco+ is coming to market. But you’re also on the private 5G side. You are now bringing this as a service. Talk about that, because that’s probably not being talked about a lot, but it’s super important.

Masum Mir: I think this is the most important part on this new technology. You talked about 5G comes with so many acronyms. We have not yet talked about Release 16, Release 17, Release 18. So, how do we keep fresh? Look, one of the big value of taking technology and consuming it as a service, you will always be fresh. You’ll always be new. Right? That’s one. Second is technology adoption cost. In enterprise, it’s a huge adoption cost, how long it takes for a technology to come, go through proof of concept, proof of value, and then go to protection. Enterprise don’t want to have huge upfront cost and investment. Believe this model of consuming it as a service where you are always future-proof, you are always fresh, and your upfront cost is reasonable, is the way to go.

Shaun McCarthy: Yeah. No, I agree. I mean, the economics of it are obviously really important, but it’s also about the pace of innovation, the pace of technology. Customers can’t keep up with the pace of innovation. We want to continue to move at a rapid pace to innovate, to deliver new capabilities every week, every month. And as a service allows customers to consume that, versus the old mode of operation where you deliver a big release and they have to spend months and months testing it, certifying it, before they can take advantage of the technology. So I think that’s a big factor, as well.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah. So, I am so pleased to hear that it’s, in a way, and these are my words, not necessarily yours, as-a-service first. Because a lot of the stuff that we’ve seen is, “Hey, we’ve got the products, which are great,” and then, it’s as-a-service second. The other thing I think, and we hear this from our customers and our research, is that 5G, and by the way, the next G, is changing so quickly, they need an as-a-service to keep up. So I really glad to hear that. I’d love to do the double-click on some customer use cases, because quite frankly, technology for technology’s sake is one thing, but for the benefit of customers is a whole different type of thing. Where are the hardcore, I’d-have-to-be-crazy-not-to-jump-on-it use cases for private 5G?

Shaun McCarthy: Yeah, sure. I mean, we’ve got a lot of awesome, exciting use cases. We announced some today in our press release that we released at Mobile World Congress. One is mining, right? Nutrium is customer we announced. And it’s just the classic mining use case. It’s all about bringing connectivity to these very, very hard each places where they couldn’t have connectivity before. That’s going to drive two things. One, it’s going to drive more efficient operation. It’s also going to drive more safety for the workers. So the idea here is maybe, on top of improvement operations, maybe we save a life or two. So, that’s one that I think is pretty cool. I don’t know if you want to share any use cases.

Masum Mir: I also wanted to talk about things like large venues, right? Now, we go to large venues and look at the amount of data that’s getting consumed. You’re getting more and more video getting consumed, but on the same time, everything is connected. It’s not only these thousands of people coming into one space. Thousands of machines also interacting. So, this is where we see the Wi-Fi technology and 5G technology augmenting each other, working hand-in-hand. Another use case to think about: the space between carpeted spaces. This is another space that a lot of time enterprise look into, “My carpeted space is very well-covered. What do I do on uncarpeted space? How do I create a seamless experience of my enterprise, both for carpeted and uncarpeted?” This is where we think it will start. But then, over time, more and more use case will start to expand as the device ecosystem matures over time.

Shaun McCarthy: Exactly.

Daniel Newman: A little bit of where the rubber meets the road, right? Real, practical use cases that people can say, “Oh, okay, there are these nuances that can be the difference between something working the way it needs to and basically underperforming.” So, Mobile World’s also a trend show, right? Anyone out there, especially that has an opinion column like we do on various channels-

Patrick Moorhead: Oh, and we have a lot of opinions.

Daniel Newman: Yeah. We have a lot of opinions. You come here and you say, “What are the trends?” Well, it’s been a few years since we’ve been here, but one of the big trends over the past several years at Mobile World’s always been IoT. And while I’ve seen a lot of advancement in IoT, I’d also say sometimes I wonder if it’s really ever met its potential, or kind of that hype cycle everyone talks about. But you guys seem to believe that this private 5G offering is going to really bring along the opportunities to start taking IoT and making these successful in the market like we were just talking about. So, talk a little bit about that. What’s going on there? Is your private 5G offering going to pull forward some of that IoT demand and growth?

Shaun McCarthy: Yeah. I mean, listen, I think, as Masum mentioned, in all of these segments that we’re focused on, they’re often these IoT segments, right? And that’s where the IoT fits today, right? So it’s about people, things, and spaces. So the majority of these use cases are all IoT. And one of the things we’re working with, I’ll give you a good example, is a company called Zebra Technologies. They’re another one of the companies we announced today. And they make devices, so they’re going to be our device partner in a lot of these new 5G applications and use cases. But what’s awesome about Zebra Technologies, they’re the drink-your-own-champagne kind of partner, where they actually are implementing our private 5G inside of their manufacturing facility, as well. So, yeah, we think Zebra’s going to play a big role in driving this and we’re going to be connecting a lot of the unconnected and connecting a lot of things in this new venture.

Masum Mir: Maybe one more piece to add: that [inaudible] IoT was a big hype. Maybe we did not reach its full potential.

Daniel Newman: Maybe it still will.

Masum Mir: It will. And we believe it will. Look, if we just think about one of the space in IoT… It is IoT, but it’s the connected vehicle. It’s a growing space. And now if you think about private environment, AGVs, it’s also a type of connected vehicle that moves around in a smaller facility. So, we think that AGVs and sensors and more high-definition cameras are the type of things that will connect, and that’s how we are going to bring people, space, and things together for enterprise.

Shaun McCarthy: Exactly.

Patrick Moorhead: So, great stuff, guys. I mean, we’ve come full circle here on 5G. We’ve talked about it being real, which is great. And oh, by the way, single pane of glass. Because I always wondered, “Why do we need a different pane of glass for 5G and Wi-Fi and every other networking we have?” Guess what? We don’t. We talked about real life use cases and go-to-market. And we talked a little bit about how this comes into the industrial IoT or IoT in general. So I think we kind of came full circle here. And I will add, one extra thing that I appreciated was the addition of how you, I would say, expanded the definition of hybrid work with things, which took me a little bit of time to get my head around, but you guys are right. It should have things.

Daniel Newman: Well, it only took like five minutes to wrap your head around it. Gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us here to 6-5, in the booth, at Mobile World Congress ’22, in-person. We did this thing. Congratulations on the news. We’ll be breaking it down with the analysis from Pat and I more in detail in the future. See y’all later.

Shaun McCarthy: Thank you.

Masum Mir: Thank you.

About the Author

Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. Read Full Bio