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Keep It Simple: Collaboration Lessons from Coaching Kids

Andy blog - soccer imageAs an enthusiastic football (U.S. translation: soccer) fan, I watch my two young sons playing youth-football every week. Not surprisingly it was only a matter of time before someone asked me to help coach. To keep up the pretence I actually knew something about football; I started scanning around for coaching tips and drills.  After a while I came across an e- book called “KISS: Keep it Simple Soccer: How to coach youth soccer” by John Fraher.

In it is a quote from legendary Dutch footballer, Ruud Krol:  “Michels [coach] taught us always that simple football is the best. It is also very difficult to play simple football.”

This got me thinking about the oft-quoted business principle “Keep It Simple, Stupid” and how it applies to collaboration technologies.

I’ve only been focused on marketing midsize collaboration solutions for a few months. Already I’m delighted by stories I hear from our customers talking about how our solutions enable their teams to work in new and exciting ways.

But I occasionally hear people say things like, “that’s all great for large enterprises, but it’s too complex” or “it’s not affordable for small to medium sized businesses.”

Well, the good news is that is not the case. We’re simplifying things.  And there are many examples of smaller organizations using collaboration technology to bring people together, with amazing results.  Take Switzerland’s 60-employee Intercantonal Reinsurance, which is seeing a 10-20% improvement in employee efficiency with Cisco Business Edition 6000.

I’ve worked in midsized businesses for a large part of my career. The relevance of collaboration technology and the opportunities it offers for growing businesses are just as great as for larger enterprises – if not greater.

But midsized organizations do tell us there are very certain things they look for from their collaboration technology partners.

Perhaps the requirements could be summarized by Keep it Simple, Stupid. That’s not to say that the IT requirements or challenges facing smaller organizations are less complex -- they are not. I say simple because these organizations typically have fewer staff to manage a very diverse set of IT requirements. They need solutions that are:

  • Simple to consume
  • Simple to deploy
  • Simple to use

This is something that we feel passionately about at Cisco. And it’s something we are committed to leading with and continually improving upon.  Let’s just pick a few examples from our recent March announcements:

  • For organizations that like to take advantage of the agility and cost efficiency of cloud-based services, partner hosted, Cisco Powered collaboration is now even more attractive.  Applications from the cloud are available on a smaller scale.  The Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS) now gives partners the ability to address the needs of organizations with as few as 100 employees by sharing instances of applications, such as voicemail and contact center.
  • Cisco Powered cloud collaboration services based on Cisco HCS can now also be accessed over the Internet without requiring a separate VPN client, making it simpler for mobile and teleworkers to collaborate with each other and with their customers.
  • A new configuration tool for Cisco Business Edition 6000, an on-premises packaged collaboration solution for organizations with up to 1,000 employees, simplifies day 1 set-up, delivering up to 30% time saving.
  • Intuitive, multiparty video conferencing capability that can transform your internal and business to business meetings is now included with the Business Edition 6000 solution, making it easier to deploy a range of voice, IM and presence and video services consolidated in a single server.
  • New, affordable collaboration room systems, including the Cisco TelePresence SX10 and Cisco TelePresence MX200 G2, that bring video conferencing to any meeting room with simple set-up and installation in only a few minutes.

I hope you agree we’re making good progress. It’s an area where we will continue to evolve and innovate to create the best solutions possible. In the meantime, if you have ideas about how we can simplify things further, I’d love to hear from you.

And if you have any thoughts on the best formation for an under-9s match we have coming up on Saturday – I can use all the help I can get there too.

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