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Collaboration is Hot … A Report from Cisco’s Collaboration Summit

Coming to you from the gorgeous Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach, an iconic entertainment resort whose time has come – and it is a true metaphor for what’s happening in IT with collaboration.

For the second consecutive year, I had the privilege of hosting the Summit’s Customer Forum, an exclusive group of IT executives representing a diverse group of companies that span multiple industries.  Here we had an opportunity to hear from our IT peers to understand some of their strategies, challenges and opportunities with deploying collaboration technologies within their respective organizations.

Our forum opened with Ted Schadler, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, who had several insights, including his perspective that the consumerization of IT is helping to drive collaboration  innovation at work.  He offered some interesting statistics about how employees are mastering technology at home and then bringing it into the workplace.

Noted author and management guru Gary Hamel found a rapt audience with his presentation on Management 2.0.  Gary has several theories, the first of which is about the need to balance the elements of control vs. freedom inside organizations.  He told us that it is important to be both evolutionary and revolutionary at the same time.  And, he used the example of Steve Jobs in describing what type of employees to hire:  that diligence and intellect aren’t enough – you want to hire people who take initiative, and who demonstrate passion and initiative.  Another key point:  companies today are taking plenty of big risks, but not enough small risks which is why experimentation should be encouraged.

In separate fireside chats, I talked one-on-one with two customers – James Brogan at the architectural firm Kohn Pedersen Fox and Orlando Portale at Palomar Pomerado Health.  Both are taking different approaches to collaboration in their companies.  For James, collaboration has sped decision making for teams across several  global locations. For Orlando, collaboration technologies -- including a Cius pilot -- enable instant access to patient medical information for doctors. 

We capped the day with a field trip to the JW Marriott Marquis in downtown Miami, where we toured this modern hotel that has been expertly outfitted with advanced video technology in guest rooms, in a state-of-the-art meeting room suitable for events as diverse as a fashion show or Super Bowl party, and a video concierge in the lobby.  It was a very impressive display of how video can provide a distinct competitive advantage.

Following the Customer Forum, I moderated a panel of executives representing Bank of America, Nike and MODEC, a general contractor specializing in engineering and installation of offshore oil and gas systems.  The takeaways:  collaboration is happening in all forms across all three companies – be it with fully deployed TelePresence rooms or rollout of Cisco Quad. 

All agreed with the concept that “collaboration is the IT investment of the decade” – and took it a step further by adding that it was also the business investment of the decade.  On the very topical question of whether to BYOD (bring your own device to work), the answer was mixed.  For one it was no – there are too many security risks, for another it was yes, absolutely – it’s worked for mobile devices and now the company is looking to expand to laptops.  All agreed that email is here to stay, but that new collaboration technologies can reduce email significantly, particularly as a storage function.

So, the overall mood was bright and breezy to complement our balmy location.

Happy Collaborating!

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