Sep. 11, 2015


 Hani Raad

Lebanon

Hani Raad

General Manager, Cisco System

TBY talks to Hani Raad, General Manager Levant of Cisco Systems, on the potential of Lebanon's IT sector, e-governance, and expectations for the year.

BIO

Hani Raad has been the General Manager of Cisco since November 2013. He manages the Levant region, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria. He has over 20 years of progressive, broad, and diverse professional experience in the high-tech industry and a proven record in the high-tech and executive management areas, the implementation of successful strategies, and creating a team environment.

What is your assessment of Cisco Systems' business performance over the past year?

For the last few quarters we have been achieving solid results time and again, as well as showing growth in every aspect of the business. This is proof that our strategy is working, and our customers are taking notice of the change of pace. We move forward with new technology or expand on the technology that we already have in place. We are emerging from the competition due to the elevation we bring to the market and the integration of the different elements of technology. We are focusing on integrating our industry-leading products in every category and this is delivering focused business outcomes. Every initiative that we undertake, we have been able to deliver.

With the increasing number of cyber-attacks, how do Cisco Systems' solutions help businesses to protect their networks?

We are one of the leading companies in the world that provide security services. We have seen an increase of 14% YoY from 2003 to 2014 and this is the highest average according to our Cisco 2015 annual security report. We are actively building a necessary defense mechanism. We cover every aspect of the network, so we have a wide portfolio of products, from solutions to access control policies, manual protection, email security, firewall security, network security, prevention, security management, and so on. If there is a new virus or some other risk, our systems immediately react. We have been successful in securing organizations of all sizes for years. Our firewall is one of the most successful products that we provide. Now we are also moving into data analytics, so we will be able to segregate some of the incoming traffic and learn how to address it.

How do you assess the potential for progress in the Lebanese ICT industry over the medium term, as well as Lebanon's potential to become a regional technology hub?

Lebanon has always strived to develop the ICT sector to the highest level and there is no reason why we cannot continue to strive for it. We missed certain opportunities in the past, but that has to do with the availability of bandwidth, the priorities of the government, and the instability of the country. Nothing stops us from becoming a hub now. We continue to realize Lebanon's potential, and we portray the country in this light. We have the human capacity, the languages, and the technical skills. We need the support of all the economic and regulatory elements to achieve our goals.

What is your outlook for e-governance and the digital economy in Lebanon?

Digitization is vital. However we don't have clarity in this regard from the government. The private sector doesn't want to wait for the government, but we have been engaged with government leaders for transforming the country into a digitized country. There are a lot of isolated engagements to digitize the environments, mainly in the private sector. That will eventually push the government to accelerate more, but it will be challenging only private entities are offering us the services we need. However there are many projects that are underway towards smart environments, smart cities, and smart planning.

What are your targets for the second half of 2015?

At this stage, the plan is to build an integrated country platform and move towards digitization—not necessarily in terms of having a revenue stream, but in terms of having a clear plan to push the government to digitization or a transformation towards the best use of the internet in support of businesses. Another priority is to develop our Cisco team and our interns, in order to get the youth to understand there is an educational and career path in this field. We want to promote Cisco locally in the country, because people want to know how things develop and how it will impact their business.

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