Real-Time Unified Communications – Inside Cisco
Productivity gains have slowed in most companies, which makes it all the more exciting for Cisco that we’ve found a way for employees to get 5 to 10 percent more out of each day. Our strategy is using unified communications technologies that trim minutes from how long it takes to reach coworkers. As recently as 2008, reaching a coworker often took multiple attempts, including dialing multiple phone numbers, leaving voicemail, and instant messaging. After finally connecting, which could easily take five minutes, we’d have to spend more time launching a separate application for video and web sharing. Since we introduced integrated clients in 2008, we’ve advanced by light years….. want to learn more about the solutions we use?
Using Cisco Unified Personal Communicator or Cisco WebEx Connect, we can see our coworkers’ real-time presence status, such as online, in a meeting, on the phone, or do not disturb, so that we know whether to contact each other by phone, instant message (IM), or email. We click once to connect, and can click again to escalate from IM to a voice or videotelephony call, or from a voice call to a Cisco WebEx collaboration session. I’ve found that video makes one-on-one calls much more productive, because the parties aren’t multi-tasking. Communications are crisper and more meaningful.
I personally experienced the value of an integrated client when I needed a quick answer while preparing a budget. In the past, I would have had to schedule a meeting with our internal expert a day or more ahead of time. But with Cisco Unified Personal Communicator, I could see when the expert was no longer on the phone, and then sent an instant message requesting a quick meeting. The expert accepted, and with a single click I escalated to a Cisco WebEx collaboration session so that I could share a spreadsheet. In about five minutes I had an answer that in the past would have taken at least a day.
This type of story is repeated daily at Cisco, and 80 percent of Cisco users surveyed say that integrated clients like Cisco Unified Personal Communicator and Cisco WebEx Connect increased their productivity by 10 percent or more. The sales force reports the biggest savings.
There are two basic types of integrated clients, and Cisco currently uses both of them. Most of the company uses our on-premises solution, Cisco Unified Personal Communicator. Cisco IT is using a cloud service, Cisco WebEx Connect. We plan to integrate both tools here at Cisco later in 2010. So, for example, if I use Cisco WebEx Connect to set my presence status to Do Not Disturb, any global Cisco employee using Cisco Unified Personal Communicator will also see that status. When I’m available, they’ll be able to click to connect to me, using either client.
Another valuable tool we use at Cisco to speed up the time to connect is Cisco Unified Mobility, previously known as Find Me/Follow Me or Single-Number Reach. Using a web interface, we can specify that calls to our office phone should simultaneously ring our mobile phone and any other phones we specify. I especially Unified Mobility when I’m expecting a critical call, because I’m not bound to my office.