A big part of what we do in the IT Customer Strategy and Success organization is talk to customers. They’re drawn to the Cisco on Cisco message, specifically what they can learn from our own experience deploying Cisco products and solutions. I’d say about 80 percent of the customers we talk to are struggling with how to leverage a Web 2.0 platform in the enterprise and how they can use it to conduct business more efficiently.
When the macro economy started to nose dive roughly 15 months ago companies everywhere were hit. Cisco certainly felt it. Our group started to get squeezed, and budgets were put on hold. In challenging times like this, companies have to find ways to cope and remain competitive while continuing to serve their customers well, if not better. It was around this time when organizations throughout Cisco began to transform themselves structurally. For Cisco on Cisco this meant departing from a functional, mostly hierarchical organization to an initiative-based, cross-functional model.
Cisco on Cisco’s underlying business philosophy is simple: determine who our customers are, figure out what they need, and find ways to deliver on those services. To further this goal in a demanding economic climate, one of our group’s initiatives is called “voice of the client,” designed expressly to deepen our understanding of customers’ needs and how we can deliver on those needs in a relevant, timely fashion. Of course we needed to do this with fewer resources and dollars. So we turned toward collaboration and Web 2.0 technologies in a big way.
My team, specifically, started with the process of content creation. We had to find an alternative to the traditional model of hiring technical writers to interview subject matter experts, and continue to produce quality content faster and cheaper.. The alternative came in the form of an internal collaboration platform built around a community environment and Web 2.0 tools such as wikis, blogs, and discussion forums. Check out the related blog by Bram van Spaendonk.
It wasn’t easy to shift the way we’ve been doing things for a long time. For example, we had to ask busy subject matter experts to provide their input directly in a community wiki instead of being interviewed by a writer. But months of working through a collaborative content creation process is starting to pay off. Today we can produce a case study in 6 weeks at no external cost versus an average of 3 months and $3200 dollars per case study in the traditional way. (All our content is at www.cisco.com/go/ciscoit.)
We couldn’t have done this without the organizational transformation. When you build an organization around an initiative, such as content creation, then everyone’s main focus is on creating and staffing the initiative in ways that make sense. We’re using Web 2.0 and collaboration technologies to not only perform a business function more efficiently but also to improve our time to capability and relevance for our customers.
Are you a customer who struggles with where the social software suite fits into your enterprise? Are you scared of the “freedom” it provides? Help me craft my next blog post — what do you want to know? If you have used Cisco on Cisco collateral, what did you think? Tell us what your business challenge is, and let’s see if we can help you with documentation produced on an enterprise Web 2.0 platform.