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The temperatures are soaring into the mid-90’s here in Scottsdale, but that’s not the hottest topic at Cisco’s annual CIO Summit, an exclusive forum for top CIOs. Collaboration continues to be a burning topic – one that was discussed at the breakout session I led earlier this week.

In introducing the session, I started with my premise that “collaboration is the IT investment of the decade.”  To underscore the effectiveness of collaboration technology, my team presented a “collaboration in action experience,” demonstrating how we at Cisco use Cisco Quad (our collaboration product), instant messaging, TelePresence, mobile devices, business applications and video.

I’m pleased to report that it resonated well with our audience of about 20 CIOs – one of whom called it “a very impressive demo.”

Moreover, while the CIOs are in varying degrees of deploying a wide array of collaboration technologies, several agreed with the premise that collaboration is indeed the IT investment of the decade.

One CIO for a major U.S. corporation told the group that, in fact, his collaboration investment was “huge.” He told us that collaboration was one of his company’s four strategic imperatives and was viewed as a primary enabler of innovation – that is, if you can’t get people working together, they won’t be as innovative. 

Yet another CIO reported that his company is actively engaged in merger and acquisition activity and collaboration is critical for this purpose. CIOs whose companies are global in nature also view collaboration as imperative to enable global teams.

CIOs that use video for collaboration were quick to say that video – which appears to be growing in usage – was “an easy ROI,” showing value in terms of travel savings.

We also heard about the many challenges of collaboration technologies. Here are just a few:

And finally, the last takeaway from our discussion was for collaboration providers like Cisco:  collaboration developers must be extremely agile. They have to deliver rapid-fire features and functionality so their solution gets better and better to ensure they are the platform of choice.  And eliminate any barriers to entry, particularly because there are significant costs to just getting started.

So, all in all, some really great input from the CIO community.

Happy Collaborating!


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