Collaboration has always been an important factor for successful businesses. Heck, it’s an important factor for successful relationships, conversations, parking-lot navigation. Wherever more than one person is involved in a process of any sort, collaboration is a must for that process to succeed.
So (don’t tell my manager this…), it was initially a bit funny to me that we would have a “Collaboration architecture.” I got the whole Data Center thing – a data center is and always has been a big ol’ box of technology. But to me, collaboration was always a human interaction, relationship, agreement to cooperate. Maybe it’s all of the organic vegetables and driving a hybrid that kept me resistant to considering collaboration as a technology architecture.
But my last name is Austin and my formative grade-school years happened to be at the very same time The Six-Million Dollar Man was one of the most popular shows on television. How many times did I hear the following words chanted on the playground, usually from behind me by a kid much bigger than me.
Steve Austin, astronaut. A man barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world’s first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster.
We do have the technology. We do have the capability to make business collaboration better. Better than it was before. Better, stronger, faster. Not to mention easier, more integrated, and aligned to not just how people work, but how they operate in their daily lives.
It’s no longer about the office, the desk, the laptop, and the phone and some business productivity applications – e-mail, spreadsheets, word processing documents. True, that whole wonderful “track changes” function enhanced collaborative document creation – but that was so 1990s. And when wireless networks let us all drag our laptops into the same conference room so we could IM and do our e-mail instead of listening to each other? That was neat too. But collaboration tools have evolved much further.
Now it’s about using the devices you want wherever you are. And it’s no longer just about you, either. (Wait, isn’t everything all about me?!) Now it’s being able to contact people where they are, know when they’re available, collaborate and communicate online in multiple ways, see each other on big screens, little screens, hand-held screens in real time.
I have an Android phone and an IBM laptop. My co-workers – both inside and outside of Cisco — have a menagerie of iPhones, Blackberries, Androids, PCs, Macs, IP phones, iPads, and even Cius tablets. But Cisco Collaboration technology means we have moved beyond the whole “gotta be Windows” world and back into a democracy where we’re all individuals coming together to collaborate for common goals, regardless of device, location, or work style. With tools like Cisco Quad and Cisco Jabber, it doesn’t matter what device I want to use, nor where I am. I can access the people, applications, and shared information I need. I can see them and they can see me. (Mostly, anyway. I have a habit of escaping to places with no mobile phone service.)
We have the technology. It makes collaboration better than it was before. Better, stronger, faster.