By June Bower, vice president of marketing, Cisco Collaboration Software GroupLast week I called a long time friend and business associate to tell her the news: my 15 year old son had broken his pelvis playing soccer at school. She picked up on the first ring and before I could get a word in she said,”I can’t believe Noah broke his pelvis. What a bummer.” How did she know this about my son, and only the day after it happened?Well, it turns out my friend, who is the best connected over-40-year-olds I know had seen the news on my son’s Facebook page. She runs a business to help companies understand how young people communicate using technology and, in turn, help us (non-young people) learn how to use the tools they use with ease. Through our conversation I came to find out the first thing my son did when he got home from the doctors’ was to post the news to Facebook. His world knew in minutes, in fact faster than me: I only found out at the end of an all-day operations review at work. My husband wanted to save me the stress of telling me earlier.So many new ways to collaborate.It is amazing how fast news travels, how the word spreads in a time of interwoven social communities. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube,Technorati blogs, Social Median are all powerful tools to share all types of information yet tools like these have been slow to infiltrate the corporate world. Why?Typically, IT manages the control. Most IT people will tell you these consumer tools are seriously lacking what companies need to protect the process of”corporate” collaboration. Their first concern is security. Web based tools could mean the firewall is compromised. Web-based tools people outside of your company might be participating. That may have been true in the”early days” of online collaboration, but like everything else, times have changed. Smart companies in the Software-as-Service space can tell you these objections can be handled. Salesforce.com, for example, is a network-based service that manages the confidential sales data of over 43,000 customers. At WebEx, a website for Webex, a product from Cisco, we have a separate secure network called Mediatone that ensures security through a web-based private network.Stand-out team leaders are willing to take a chance.What we are learning is that many of these made-for-consumer tools are being used by corporate”innovators” around the world -- most without IT involvement. This week, during a WebEx end user focus group we held in NYC, a number of our corporate participants said they had gone beyond their IT departments to try new things to improve collaboration for their workgroups. These forward-thinking leaders face one challenge: getting their”non-youth” peers to try something new.So what about teaching old dogs new tricks? How do you get the older workforce to adopt these new ways of working? How about letting the teens and young adults show us the way? They can help us understand how online collaboration and community works. They can help in evaluating new ways of working and helping speed adoption among your workforce. After talking with my friend I decided to see just what my son had said on his Facebook page. A little wary of what I might find, I logged on. Ironically, I had to laugh, not at what my son had written, but rather the comment posted by my friend on his wall.”Don’t worry, Noah. I’ll keep your Mom busy so she doesn’t bug you too much while you are recovering.” How’s that for a true friend?by June Bower, vice president of marketing, Cisco Collaboration Software Group
By Carlos Dominguez, Senior Vice President, Cisco’s Office of the Chairman of the Board and CEO“œMay we live in interesting times.” -Old Chinese ProverbIt’s amazing to see how quickly everything around us is changing, especially when it comes to technology. In 1976 (incidentally the year I graduated from high school) we enjoyed a total of three television channels: ABC, NBC and CBS. There was no cable or satellite TV with the hundreds of channels we have now, no DVRs, on demand, high def, Hulu, the Internet, e-mail, instant messaging, nor text messaging, YouTube …or many of the other technologies my teenager now uses daily. As a matter of fact, 40% of all TVs sold in 1976 were black and white. I can still see the look on my 15 year old’s face when I described what technology and life were like in 1976. “What did you do all day? Life must have been boring,” she said. My Gen Y or”millennial” daughter plus 82 million of her peers were born between 1980 and 1995 and are shaping our world by leveraging technology in all aspects of their lives. They are perpetually connected, communicating and contributing. They engage in 145 conversations about products per week (1), will wait in line for hours to get the new hot product at the Apple store, avoid ads unless they are funny or entertaining, 64% create and share artwork, photos, videos and stories online (2) and 36% of American teens want to become famous …and half believe that they will. (3) If you are lucky like me, you have one of them at home to observe with amazement, and more importantly, to learn from. The digital divide is real but involves several generations. The millennials have grown up digital. The baby boomers (1946-1964 and 82 miliion of them) and the Gen Xer’ s (1965-1981, 60 million ) have not. This divide is increasingly evident as the Gen Yer’s are joining our workforce and the multiple generations are working together. As a matter of fact, 10% (6,000+) of Cisco’s current workforce were born between 1980 and 1988 and bring with them a new set of tools, expectations and behaviors that we need to understand, and leverage. I highly recommend you seek them out in your company and learn how to optimize their experience. For example, use them as tutors on Web 2.0, as early adopters of any new technology …and seek their opinions. 1 Keller-Fay Group, 20072 Pew Internet, 20073 MTV, 2007I recently met with three fantastic, smart, confident, articulate and very connected Cisco millennials and learned a lot from our interaction. I’d like to share our conversation with you since I think they provide valuable insights. I also invite you to submit questions to the blog so we can all learn from each other and help bridge the digital divide.Here are two videos — the beginning of a series — which will help to paint a picture of the way Millennials are now collaborating.By Carlos Dominguez, Senior Vice President, Cisco’s Office of the Chairman of the Board and CEO.You may also connect with Carlos via his Facebook page.
By Alan S. Cohen, VP Enterprise/Mid-Market Solutions Marketing In her brilliant account of Abraham Lincoln’s political ascension to the White House during one of the bleakest periods of American history, Doris Kearns Goodwin details how the 16th President engaged the talents of his strongest political rivals, pulling them into a “dream team” during the darkest hour of the American Republic. Team of Rivals charts how Lincoln created a “collaboration effect” by fostering and communicating a common good to which even competitive, ambitious individuals could adhere. As we face the darkest business climate in a generation, working across corporate and geographic boundaries can play a critical role in determining whether companies survive or thrive during these tough times. With much of the world economy mired in tremendous uncertainties, there exists a unique inflection point for changing, for morphing the traditional rules of competition and commerce. There is now an opportunity for companies that have been rivals to work together, either structurally or in rapidly-formed, short term “mash-ups,” to jointly address the challenges and opportunities in front of them.
By Kara Wilson, Vice President of Marketing, Unified CommunicationsEarlier this year Cisco took the #1 spot in enterprise voice and the #1 spot in enterprise telephony. I guess good news also comes in threes because, the recently published Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications* positioned Cisco in the Leaders quadrant. According to Gartner,”The Leaders quadrant contains vendors selling comprehensive and integrated UC solutions that directly or, with well-defined partnerships, address the full range of market needs. These vendors have defined migration and evolution plans for their products in core UC areas and are using their solution sets to enter new clients into their client rosters and to expand their footprints in their client bases in new function areas.”As a key piece of the Cisco collaboration portfolio, our UC system is helping companies such as Nissan motors improve productivity, reduce costs and speed products to market, and our new Cisco Unified Communications System Release 7.0 leads the market in ease-of-use, openness and interoperability, and total cost of ownership.You can view a full copy of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications, compliments of Cisco, here as well as a collaboration press release.* Gartner, Inc.”Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications” by Bern Elliot, September 12, 2008.by Kara Wilson, Vice President of Marketing, Unified Communications
There’s just too much bad news out there. You can’t turn on your evening news without hearing about stock market gyrations, the credit crisis and housing foreclosures, and the”R-word” (recession, if you haven’t been watching).So what do we do about it? Cut back, reduce expenses, make sure you can survive the storm, and find new and innovative ways to expand your green initiative.Wait-what? Yes, you heard me correctly: Expand your green initiative. (I can hear the objections now: it’s expensive, it’s going to take time and resources we don’t have, and so on).Okay, let me explain: expand those aspects of your green initiatives that will save you money, save you time, enhance productivity and help your valued employees do the same for themselves. It’s not only possible, but it’s not that hard to do.What are these opportunities? Here are two of the easiest to implement with the highest cost-reduction:Travel reductionYou are already probably asking your staff to travel less, and they are probably telling you how much this meeting or that one will help your business. They’re right, but you can’t afford the trip.But instead of just canceling 10-20% of these useful, productive meetings, you can use web-based collaboration tools to eliminate even more trips, and keep all of your productive meetings intact, keep your customers and partners happy, and give your business an advantage in the next growth cycle, and reduce your greenhouse gas emissions.TelecommutingThis raises all sorts of issues for many managers. While you may be one who likes your team members in sight, more and more companies, large and small are letting more and more of their people stay home (or work in remote offices).Companies that support telecommuting can reduce their power consumption by not having workers in the office every day. If you move workers to permanent telecommuting status, you can also save on real estate: office space, heating and cooling, and waste disposal. All of which reduces greenhouse gas emissions and environmental footprint.Employees who telecommute reduce their driving time (which in some US metro areas averages over 1 hour each way). This not only saves them the price of gas (and the associated greenhouse gas emissions), but the time they would have spent in the car. The added bonus is the ability to use the time gained back for both work and personal life, and to have the flexibility to be where ever they need to be.Doing this effectively also requires that you provide your people with web-based collaboration tools that let them work with each other almost like they were just down the hall.You can listen to the story of how Continental Airlines made this work for them.These are a good start. But if one of those ideas doesn’t work for your business (or you’ve already done it successfully), there are plenty of other ways you can take steps to become a greener company and at the same time cut costs and improve your business. Two more examples:- Making more of your training available on-line: This also keeps people from having to travel to training courses and lets them learn what they need when they need it. You reduce travel costs, improve your peoples’ skills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. You can even offer your customers on-line training alternatives that you might be able to offer at lower cost and higher margins- Do you service a complex product? Move some of your tech support on-line. This can keep your technicians off the road, not only saving you the cost of maintaining a fleet (or paying mileage), but lets your technicians make more service calls per day, resolving customer issues faster. Oh, and saving greenhouse gas emissions in the processAgain, this is just a start. If you want to hear how these steps might work for you, listen to how IKON Office Solutions took a few of these steps, saved lots of money and advanced their green initiatives.And start thinking about how greening your business process can help the environment and your business all at the same time.I can’t wait to hear your story of how you’re making this work!by Jeff Weinberger, chair, WebEx Green Initiative