Cisco's Techno Biz Mastermind Quiz: The Genius' Claim To Fame

DQC News Bureau
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Every year, Cisco Systems holds the Techno Biz Mastermind quiz, which has a

healthy mix of technical and corporate-based questions. The team from Mumbai

-based Tata Infotech bagged the finals this time around, while Datacraft and

Network Solutions won the regional rounds in New Delhi and Bangalore,



What is the best way to find out whether your partners are really

knowledgeable about the happenings in the IT industry? Simple, just quiz them.

And then award them for their efforts. At least that is Cisco Systems' mantra

for its Indian partners.

Cisco Systems began its hunt for the best channel partner in India from New

Delhi. The Regional Techno Biz Mastermind Quiz was held in New Delhi on 15th

January, 2005 and in Mumbai on 18th January, 2005. The last regional quiz was

held in Bangalore on 20th January, 2005. Needless to say it had good

participation from its partners.


Srikanth Natarajan (extreme right) and Janice Hulse of Cisco Systems flank Utkarsh Joshi and Dhanesh Kumar Sethi of Tata Infotech


"It is a unique practice of Cisco to allow our channel partners to show

their talent and knowledge. It is equally beneficial for us, as we also got to

know about the knowledge and awareness level of our channel partner," says

Srikanth Natrajan, Channels Account Manager, Cisco Systems.

The winners of all these three cities got to go to Jaipur to attend the

partner conference and be a part of the final quiz there. They went there with

another person they wanted to go with. And the final winner at Jaipur will now

fly to a destination of his choice at any place in south Asia.

Around 40 channel partners of Cisco turned up for the event in Mumbai as well

as New Delhi. The winners in New Delhi were Datacraft's Gaurav Saini and Bipin

Dubey. While in Mumbai, Utkarsh Joshi and Dhanesh Kumar Sethi of Tata Infotech

emerged the winners.


At the start of the quiz in Mumbai, there were 22 teams. "These teams

are selected from the diamond, gold and silver partners of Cisco," said

Srikanth. Of them, three were short-listed on the basis of a set of

Cisco-oriented technical questions and some questions related to the IT field in

general. There was a crossword to be solved. These three sections were


Once this part was over, a panel of five people from Cisco itself corrected

the papers. The three teams short listed were Network Solutions, Wipro and Tata

Infotech. The quizmaster for the evening was Srikanth and he designed the

questions as well.


The quiz was divided in two broad categories in New Delhi and Mumbai. To

begin with, technical questions were shot out at the participants. One of the

questions in Mumbai was, 'How many switches can be stacked using Cisco's

Stack Wise Technology?'. The teams were unable to answer the question, while

one of the audience team answered it correctly as nine.

Sumanth Prabhu and M Srinivas Rao of Network Solutions pose with their prizes along with Janice Hulse

The questions were picked up mainly from Cisco's website. Another question,

which the teams answered was 'Which protocol does ODR routing feature use to

learn neighbors?' The answer to the same was Cisco Discovery Protocol.

Moving to the lighter side, the next round was on corporates. These were

questions based on current events with an IT angle to it in various fields like

sports, brands, banking and other fields. The participant teams answered most

questions, except some.


One of them was, 'Which bank set up the world's first floating ATM?'.

The correct answer to it was State Bank of India. At the same time, compared to

this tricky question, there were simple questions like, 'What is L&T

Cement now known as?'. Participants as well as the audience knew the answer to

be Ultratech Cement.

The third round of questions was the visual round, wherein some prominent

personalities like Rustom Pallonji Mistry and Mcdonald's CEO, Charlie Bell,

who passed away recently were asked to be identified. Till this round, Tata

Infotech led with a big margin. In the rapid fire round, Network Solutions

closed in the gap, but Tata Infotech yet emerged the final winner with a 10

point lead ahead of Network Solutions.



Datacraft´s Gaurav

Saini and Bipin Dubey receive their prizes from Janice Hulse for

winning in the northern region


Jangoo Dalal, Sr VP and Country Manager, Cisco Systems, India gave the

winning team the award. The winners got an opportunity to go to Jaipur for the

Partner's Conference along with one more person they wished to go with.

Shirish Joshi, VP, Channels, India and SAARC gave the prizes to both the runner



Cisco starts working on the event months in advance before the actual event.

It starts by informing its 15 Gold, Silver and Premier Select partner

organizations about the impending quiz. A few weeks later, it starts sending

teaser mails, with two questions daily. Employees from these partner companies

can reply to these questions and there is no restriction to the number of teams

that can be formed in each channel company. Said Utkarsh, "Sometimes 20

teams have participated in the event from a single company."

After collating information from the participants, Cisco has a written

elimination round to select teams that can fight it out in the regional rounds.

The winners of each regional round then battle it out for the finals.


Cisco holds the event at three cities nationally, New Delhi, Mumbai and

Bangalore, though it has partners in Hyderabad, Chennai and Colombo as well. And

it does not plan to take the quiz to other cities in the near future.

"These three cities cover the bulk of our partners, so we don't see the

need to take into more cities," explained Srikanth.


What started as a fun event four years ago has become a serious business for

Cisco. That is what Srikanth is most surprised and happy about. "We have

witnessed the Techno Biz turning into a competitive event, where employees of

our channel organizations actually spend days in preparing for the elimination

rounds," he noted. This event has also given Cisco a good visibility and

brand association among the very people who then go to market to sell its


Participants battle out a round of rapid fire questions thrown at them during the event

Gaurav Saini, who was the runner up at the finals at Jaipur, feels that

events like these helps keep employees of a partner organization motivated to

know more about the technological developments around them. "The quiz had

the right blend of technical and general knowledge questions. It did not dwell

only in Cisco's offerings, which is refreshing," he added.

Utkarsh, who was part of the team that won the finals, finds the quiz useful

as this is the best way to keep himself abreast of the latest developments in

Cisco, especially from the technical perspective. In fact, after winning the

regional rounds in Mumbai, he spent a few days scouring through Cisco's

website and business magazines to brush up his knowledge for the finals. And now

that he has won the final, he is already preparing for the forthcoming event

next year.