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“Sparking” Collaboration at SXSW

Every year at the SXSW Interactive Conference, tens of thousands gather in Austin, Texas to get a first look at what’s new in innovative technology. And while the atmosphere this year was festive, it’s safe to assume that many attendees were trying to stay connected and get work done on-the-go with colleagues back in the office.

While email and conference calls have long been the staples of business communication, the reality is that people on-the-go, whose mobile devices are their business lifelines, need solutions that make it simple and easy to work together from anywhere. Since Cisco was on the ground with attendees at SXSW, it was the perfect opportunity to not only hear how they collaborate, but also discuss the future of collaboration and find out directly from users what they are looking for.

While we think collaboration is the best thing since sliced bread – or in Austin, taco trucks – we wanted to hear how users describe it: how do they use it, how does it help them, what do they wish it could do? Because Cisco Spark is so easy to put in the hands of users, we asked people to try it out. Read More »

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Context is Everything in Customer Care

“Let’s eat grandma!”
“Let’s eat, grandma!”

Punctuation makes a difference, doesn’t it? So does context.

Photo by Takkk, Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Takkk, Wikimedia Commons

If you’re a basketball fan with March Madness on your mind, “Drive the lane!” might make you think of something a coach yells to his players. On the other hand, if you’re teaching your teenage son to drive, it means something else entirely. Context matters! (By the way, march madness also refers to the breeding season of the European hare; context is a tricky thing.)

What’s one of the most annoying things about calling a contact center? For me, it’s entering my account number to an interactive voice response (IVR) system and then having a customer service agent ask me to repeat it moments later. In his recent blog, Zack Taylor refers to this as a “Do It Again” moment. Come on, people! We put a man on the moon in 1969 (or not, if you’re a conspiracy buff), but we can’t get an IVR system to send account numbers to agents? Actually we can. But most businesses don’t because it’s been too difficult or costly. We’ll get back to that shortly. Read More »

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Collaboration Makes the Future Bright for Healthcare

Well, New Year’s Day is long past. As I continue to plod along with my New Year’s resolutions through this brutally cold winter, I do so with varying degrees of success. I still start my day with an apple-ginger juice and try to eat my veggies.   Along the way I bolster my dedication with the incremental successes that a healthy lifestyle delivers.  I feel lucky to have my health and I’m trying my best to protect it! 

Sometimes, I get bummed when I read the healthcare headlines: There’s a new “super bug”… there is a shortage of doctors… antibiotics are nearing the end stage of their effectiveness…. The headlines can be scary!

But I know that headlines are meant to elicit emotions and capture attention. I recently looked behind the headlines at stories about how companies in the healthcare industry are using Cisco collaboration technology.  I came away feeling optimistic.  There are some cool things happening!

Technology is making a huge difference in doctor-patient care.  

Park Nicollet Healthcare is a nonprofit integrated healthcare system located near Minneapolis. The company was looking for ways to improve collaboration between the more than 1000 physicians on staff. Park Nicolette made huge strides when it added Jabber to its existing Cisco Unified Communications Manager implementation Read More »

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How Telecommuting Simplifies My Workday

For many of us, the process of getting to and from work can create frustration that resonates all day long. Do the following daily obstacles sound familiar to you?

  • 6:15 a.m.: Wake up, feed dog, make coffee, shower, make up, style hair, dress for the office
  • 7:30 a.m.: Drive, sit in traffic, stop by Starbucks, wait in line
  • 9:30 a.m.: Arrive to office late but finally at my desk, answer e-mails
  • 10 a.m.: First conference call of the day via WebEx
  • 1 p.m.: Lunch time! Discover someone has stolen my RedBull from community refrigerator. Must escape building after someone microwaves left-over fish dinner and the odor crawls through the entire second floor
  • 2 p.m.: Back to work, can’t focus well with distracting noise of nearby printer
  • 3 p.m.: Territorial cubicle neighbor creates drama about missing sticky notes
  • 4 p.m.: Back pain and headache kick in, start looking at the clock and dreaming of Hawaii

Read More »

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Continuous Delivery – realizing fast IT

For those following trends in the software industry, Continuous Delivery (CD) has been all the rage. What is it? Simply put – continuous delivery is the ability of a SaaS application to push new software into production multiple times per day. Typically, only the cloud software components are updated at this rate. Client code – either browser code or mobile applications – are updated at a pace between once a week and once a month.

As a software development team, continuous delivery is very exciting. But as the IT person that is the ultimate customer of SaaS applications, do you care about continuous delivery? The answer is -absolutely.

Rowan Trollope recently blogged about the importance of moving fast and innovating quickly. That is the essence of fast IT, and continuous delivery is the key to unlocking fast IT. This is because continuous delivery delivers three essential ingredients that make fast IT possible.

First, continuous delivery means better quality.  A SaaS application with continuous delivery will be able to measure and improve upon the performance, reliability and speed of the application in the hands of your own users. Every day you will see it get a little bit better. With continuous delivery, quality isn’t just about defect counts. With continuous delivery, Read More »

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