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Collaboration : A Top Down Process!

My prior blog entry,”Teams of Rivals“, explored how the triptych of process, culture and technology must come together to enable a productive, innovative collaborative working environment. In this post, I want to offer an integral, related variable to the collaborative management equation: the role of the CEO and top management in fostering an effective participatory work environment.The road to collaboration is a journey. But it is a directed, not self-guided trip, one that must be carefully overseen by senior management. Guidebooks and maps are not readily available as the structure of most businesses over the past several centuries has been hierarchical. It was only in the 1950s when Peter Drucker, the leading management theorist of the past century, noted that while hierarchy is an important management principle, it is not sufficient for companies to thrive, particularly in turbulent times. He was the first critic of command and control structure, adopted from military organizations -where it usually made a lot of sense -to become the dominant organizational framework of most companies. Read More »

Reversing the IT Buyer’s Collaboration Dilemma

By Don Proctor, Senior Vice President, Software Group In the entry on “Collaboration,” a nameless contributor to Wikipedia makes an interesting observation. He or she points out how the term acquired a negative meaning during World War II when it referred to people in European countries who cooperated with their German military occupiers. It is surprising to be reminded of this now; most people would say that in today’s lexicon, “collaboration” has a wholly positive meaning. This is particularly true for the Gen Y digital generation, for whom staying connected with others to share information and opinions, often on a minute-by-minute basis, is completely second nature. The Web 2.0 world they inhabit is not defined by traditional markets or customer demographics, but by community, and community means taking the walls down. Generally speaking, that group is not old enough yet to be running companies or sizable organizations within companies. However, for many of the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers who are, there has been a darker side to collaboration. Ask any IT buyer. Collaborative content as it comes into the enterprise often isn’t provided in a way that can be consumed by an enterprise user without compromising the security and manageability of enterprise applications. In effect, IT hasn’t been able to fulfill a service level agreement to their internal clients who are demanding collaboration capabilities.

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Openness and Interoperability — Cisco’s DNA

Openness and interoperability have been in Cisco’s DNA since the company shipped the first multiprotocol router in 1985. At that time, interoperability was about connecting disparate physical networks, enabling them to talk with each other and share information. Flash forward to today, and Cisco is still helping people connect, communicate, and collaborate with innovative on premise and on demand applications that use the network as a platform to share knowledge and ideas. But what does a collaboration portfolio that is founded on openness and interoperability mean to businesses? The ability to survive and thrive in a challenging economy. Openness equals choice, and choice empowers employees with the tools and communication styles they prefer to drive productivity. Different mobile phone users? No problem. “Facebook” and email users? No problem. Cisco’s collaboration portfolio works across different devices and applications within and outside the Cisco fold to foster teamwork, creativity and efficiency. Openness and interoperability enables better customer service and satisfaction. Interoperable solutions allow you to more rapidly and intelligently respond to customers with personalized service. Cisco’s contact center solutions interoperate with existing phone systems and legacy contact center systems to help deliver quality service, without having to dedicate more resources. Presence federation allows for closer relationships with customers. Rich collaboration solutions like Cisco WebEx enable the delivery of quality service and support over a wide range of computer systems and across networks.Openness and interoperability drives closer partner engagement, making partners, suppliers and distributors an integral part of a business. Whether it’s federation with IBM, Microsoft and Cisco presence information on who’s available; interoperable video communications with Cisco TelePresence and standards-based H.323 video conferencing systems for richer communications; or the development of new business transformation applications with the Cisco Unified Application Environment, Cisco’s collaboration portfolio can unlock new ways to generate higher quality leads, drive deeper and faster innovation, and win new business using existing resources.Of course, IT and Telecom departments benefit from open, interoperable collaboration solutions by being able to deploy new business transformation applications at their own pace with existing legacy TDM systems, as well as business applications from companies like IBM and Salesforce.com, for maximum investment protection and competitive differentiation.Over the coming year, we’ll be evolving our open, interoperable Web 2.0 framework. We’ll be active with partners and developers to help expose collaboration services and new applications for heterogeneous environments. And, we’ll be contributing innovation to the open source community to help further drive communications and collaboration across companies and products. How are you or your customers using open collaboration solutions to survive and thrive in today’s economy?by Kara Wilson, vice president of marketing, Cisco Unified Communications

The End of Generation Text

Carlos Dominguez wrote a fascinating post on his recent experiences with ‘millennials’ and how they are shaping the future of work. It got me thinking that a consequence of this change in our workforce is the rapid demise of”Generation Text”.For many of us, collaboration technologies have been largely focused on text collaboration- documents, email, IM, even wikis and blogs. We’ve been part of”Generation Text”. But with changes in technology, changes in workforce and the drive to find new frontiers for step-change improvements in productivity, text collaboration is giving way to rich media, in-person collaboration technologies.We’ve spent the last decade plus using web 1.0 technologies to achieve productivity gains by automating humans out of business processes- replacing armies of data entry clerks with web self service applications in finance, HR, support, sales etc. In most cases the really big gains have already been made and now we’re making minor incremental improvements. A key characteristic of the web 2.0 era is that we are gaining productivity by improving the processes that humans must be part of by using technology to scale human interactions. Take Cisco TelePresence for example. By virtualizing in-person meetings, subject matter experts, decision makers at all levels and executives can meet more often, with more people and with less latency than any other means. The productivity gains can be startling. Cisco itself has quantified nearly $60M in productivity gains by using TelePresence. In this challenging economic climate we’re all faced with the need make decisions quickly and to collaborate effectively to execute on those decisions. Many of these decisions involve sensitive, important topics like priorities, investments and strategy where human interaction is a critical element and where the participants are often geographically disperse.

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Cisco Webinar Today: Collaborate with Confidence

Later today, Cisco and the Ponemon Institute will host a live webinar on policy and collaboration. I encourage you to attend but wanted to give you an advance look into our thinking about the interaction of these two critical technologies. At their simplest definition Security, Privacy, and Audit all deal with various facets of making sure that only the right people under the right circumstances or context can get access to specific resources, whether they be your network, your documents, your data, your applications or your people. So for example, a patient can read his medical history at any time and from any device, whereas the patient’s primary care doctor can only access the information from inside the medical center between 8am and 5pm on a weekday. In this example it is a person accessing a resource but the discussion applies equally to a resource accessing another resource, for example, an application accessing a document or another application. At its simplest definition, Governance is the set of rules and policies that define and manage the Security, Privacy, and Audit characteristics of an environment. Good governance makes these rules and policies explicit, so that they can be modeled, observed, and reasoned about. Better governance makes these policy definitions directly actionable, so that once specified they can be enforced predictably and consistently.

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