methods of using Internet technology to boost productivity
and cut costs can be an example for Indian enterprises
to follow. by Manoj Chugh
tight economy has rekindled interest in employee productivity
and cost avoidance as top information technology (IT)
goals. In this "back to basics" economy, it
is important to leverage new-world technologies to achieve
business efficiencies. Use of Internet technology is
the primary reason why the Cisco workforce is the most
productive in the networking industry as measured by
revenue per employee. These Web-enabled tools, conveniently
accessible to employees have made possible efficiencies
to the tune of $540,000 of revenue per employee in 2002.
My intent is to present Cisco as a case study for enterprises
to discover all that is possible by using Internet technologies
smartly. Among the IP technologies that have helped
Cisco increase productivity and cut costs are wireless
LANs, secure IP virtual private networks (VPNs), multimedia
e-learning, IP telephony, workforce optimization applications,
e-sales, e-support, and supply-chain management.
At its San Jose, California campus, wireless access
points in every building enable Cisco employees to use
e-mail and other applications in nearly any location,
including conference rooms, cafeterias, and lobbies.
By making it convenient to work securely from any location,
it is possible to eliminate those gaps of time when
people couldn't work at allnot by choice, but
due to lack of connection.
Of course, Cisco isn't the only company yielding similar
benefits from wireless LANs. According to a 2001 study
by NOP World-technology, users say that wireless LANs
allow them to be connected 1¾ more hours per
day, on average. This translates into an estimated 70-minute
increase in productivity, or a 22 percent productivity
gain. Assuming an average salary of $64,000, the annual
productivity improvement per user is worth $7,000 for
a typical large enterprise, according to the study.
What wireless LANs provide for on-campus employees,
secure IP VPNs do for telecommuters and employees on
the road. Research firm Gartner Group estimates that
telecommuting improves employee productivity by 10 to
40 percent. Cost savings also accompany the productivity
increases. For example, "virtual team meetings"
cost far less than in-person meetings that require travel
Today, with high-speed remote-access solutions, productivity
has increased by one to two hours a day for each employee.
And IP VPNs help retain quality people because companies
can give them more flexibility and the tools to be more
productive. Additionally, secure IP VPNs also cost lessby
way of monthly fees for employees who have a choice
of access method.
High-speed Internet access on campus, at employees'
homes, and on the road enables companies to deploy productivityboosting
applications like e-mail, meeting scheduling, and e-learning.
E-learning avoids costs and increases efficiency by
reducing travel expenses, decreasing resource requirements
needed for partner training, cutting time requirements,
and saving printing costs by making content available
online. Productivity increases because salespeople,
for example, can spend more time solving customers'
business needs, and engineers can spend more time developing
better products and testing them.
The virtual classroom solution works best for audiences
of fewer than 200 people, and for presentations requiring
frequent live interaction, demos, audience polling,
or question-and-answer sessions. By using virtual classrooms,
training suddenly becomes more affordableboth
in terms of time and costs. The company can thereby
invest more and create a skilled workforce.
Internal and customer experiences have shown that an
enterprise-wide deployment of IP telephony drastically
enhances return on investment. The total cost of network
ownership dropped immediately, a result of lower equipment
and infrastructure cost and easier network management.
In addition, enterprises can also eliminate the costs
of leasing and maintaining traditional PBX equipment.
Productivity improves, as well, because employees can
avoid the time drain of voice mail by bringing their
IP phones with them and simply plugging them into a
spare jackeven at home.
IP-based workforce optimization applications help employees
perform routine administrative tasks and manage human
resource functions more efficiently.
For example, a comprehensive, Web-enabled recruiting
system allows prospects to learn about Cisco culture
and benefits, search for jobs, apply for positions,
or complete a profile with a set of questions that allows
the recruiter to prescreen the applicant.
e-Sales and e-Support
Online portals that track bookings and manage lead times
and shipments greatly streamline the sales process and
boost productivity. Such a portal also conveniently
presents the background information sales people need
to best serve their customerssales statistics,
customer-related alerts, pertinent news about customers
Named one of the ten best Web support sites in 2002
by the Association of Support Professionals, the Cisco
Technical Assistance Center (TAC) website is more cost-effective
than call centers. The TAC currently offers about 5,200
documents that address high-volume, low-complexity problemsthat
is, the 20 percent of issues that solve 80 percent of
customer problems. This is a typical example of how
effective and inexpensive support can be delivered with
minimal direct interface. TAC Web content solves some
200,000 customers issues per month that otherwise would
require phone-based support. Monthly call center volume,
in contrast, is around 80,000, and far more expensive.
The bottomlineInternet technologies can deliver
real bottomline benefits. Early adopter enterprises
have seen productivity and profitability improvements
delivered by IP technologies. The Network is the Business
The writer is President-India &
SAARC, Cisco Systems