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The Collaboration Effect: The Second Wave of the Internet

Post by Alan S. Cohen, Vice President, Enterprise & Mid-Market Solutions“œA human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space.” — Albert Einstein, 1954Last week we experienced one of the most tumultuous rides in the world financial markets in quite some time. The interconnectedness of the world equity markets -already roiling from the year-plus credit crunch -demonstrates, viscerally, how deeply ingrained the first wave of the Internet, the wave that connected every computer to every other computer, is in the software of economics and finance. Information, much of it unfiltered but transmitted at awesome speed, created tremendous gyrations that caused companies long considered rock-solid institutions to teeter, and, in some cases, to fall. All of this occurred on a wave of Ethernet and fiber strung together from every financial capital to the next, worldwide. Countless investors swept the emotional gamut as hundreds of billions of dollars of equity were wiped out and then regained in days, even hours.The uplifting (though certainly not final) conclusion to last week’s financial turmoil was a human network effect: the collaboration between various elected and appointed government agencies alongside private industry to hammer out a rapid but powerful solution to the credit crisis. It took people with skills, knowledge and the desire to work together. The proposal Secretary Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke presented is a manifestation of what we believe will be the second wave of the Internet: collaboration.Collaboration posits such a powerful business concept because it puts people and context back into decision-making. While the first wave of the Internet allowed connectivity and trading algorithms to move trillions of dollars daily on a global basis, it fell short on solutions where insight and awareness were required. Today we see collaboration as a transcendent strategy for business, crossing boundaries of location, time, language, and corporate or government structures. Powerful, multi-modal, cross-company collaboration solutions that unleash innovation and productivity are the heart of what we call the”collaboration effect.” It is a profoundly simple concept: put people back into the center of communications and decision-making, even if they are not members of the same work-team or company, or don’t even work on the same continent.As business becomes increasingly digital, work is more of an activity than a physical place; thus the physical workplace must become a virtual”workspace.” Successful workspaces must not only support replication of business processes and communications, but actually allow them to morph or go away. Read More »

Cisco Collaboration Portfolio Introduction To The Channels

Richard McLeod, senior director, go-to-market group, worldwide channels at Cisco, discusses the significance of the Cisco collaboration portfolio to the channels.

How the “Human Network Effect” Helps Cisco Employees Live, Work and Play

Cisco employee Lisa Napier talks about the”Human Network Effect” that Cisco Virtual Office and collaboration technologies such as WebEx have had on the ways she lives, works and plays. Lisa explains how she is now able to spend more time with her family and help her community while balancing the complexities of working on a global team.

PostPath Acquisition and the Cisco Collaboration Platform

Post by Doug Dennerline, SVP, Collaboration Software GroupCommunications, globalisation and automation have flattened the world and transformed the competitive landscape. The traditional competitive advantages of size and scale have been replaced by speed and flexibility. In this new world, effective, adaptive collaboration is critical to achieving sustainable competitive advantage. Today’s acquisition of PostPath is part of our commitment to create a comprehensive cloud-based collaboration platform. By offering an on-demand version of the PostPath solution, we can provide flexible, cost-effective email and calendaring integrated with our collaboration portfolio of Cisco Unified Communications, WebEx and Business Video. PostPath’s Linux-based email, calendaring and collaboration solution is highly secure and scalable, and incorporates an innovative Web 2.0 architecture to meet the requirements of enterprise customers and small businesses. It’s interoperable with many different email solutions, offers an AJAX web client and is compatible with a broad range of mobile devices.We’re excited to welcome the PostPath team to Cisco and look forward to working together. For more information, I encourage you to listen to this podcast from Cisco’s Alex Hadden-Boyd, www.cisco.com/go/arpodcasts

Sweet Talk : Cisco and Speech Recognition

Note: Part two, continued from yesterday’s post.Cisco believes that in order for our customers to embrace and fully leverage speech recognition, the technology must offer both solution intelligence and a simple and natural user interface.Solution IntelligenceWe do not speak as clearly and consistently as we think we do, making solution intelligence a necessary part of a successful speaker interaction experience. Our speech is filled with pauses, repetitions, partial words, and slips of the tongue, complicating the speech recognition process. Researchers have been working for years to improve the algorithms and language models that are used to create increasingly intelligent speech engines, and the results are encouraging. Cisco is actively building upon the recent advances in solution intelligence to design speech recognition solutions that can understand and interpret our everyday words and speech patterns.A Simple And Natural User Interface How will Cisco”train” people to interact with speech engines? The key is the user interface, which provides the dialogue you hear (“œWho would you like to reach?”) and the manner in which you interact with the solution to determine what action you really intend (“œDid you mean Jim Smythe?”). Cisco is developing speech solutions that use straightforward, natural questions to elicit clarity and intent from end users. There is also intelligence built into the interface -not just the speech engine -so that callers can learn over a short period of time how to interact with the speech recognition system. Conversely, the speech interface has the intelligence to alter prompts in order to slow down and provide more guidance to the user, or speed up the interaction process for more advanced users. By making it clear what we’re supposed to do and say, a well-designed user interface allows us to navigate a speech recognition solution without the safety net of a human backup on the other end of the connection. A key part of Cisco’s strategy is to recognize what speech technology can realistically deliver to customers and therefore avoid many of the mistakes made by other vendors who tried to do too much with speech technology.Speech Recognition In Action TodayCisco’s most recent entry into the world of speech recognition is Speech Connect for Cisco Unity, which is a speech-enabled auto attendant feature of Cisco’s Unity unified messaging solution. This feature allows both internal and external callers, using only their voice, to be quickly connected to any employee in the company directory. The caller is prompted with”who would you like to reach” and responds by speaking a name. Speech Connect works because it has a very simple user interface built on top of the speech engine. Adam Goldberg, Cisco Product Sales Specialist, says”Speech Connect really lays the foundation for ‘speech as a network service’. As we extend that service across all of Cisco UC, our customers will be the true beneficiaries of our ubiquitous approach.” Try it the next time you call a colleague at Cisco by dialing 408-894-3500.In the contact center market, Cisco has been fine-tuning its speech recognition products for years. The Cisco Unified Customer Voice Portal (CVP) allows organizations to develop personalized self-service over the phone, letting customers efficiently retrieve the information they need from the contact center. For example, name and address changes are easily done with a speech interface while they are nearly impossible using touch tones. Additionally, Cisco Unified IP IVR allows organizations to develop additional speech-based customer service applications. These solutions allow our customers, such as Nestle Waters, to develop the appropriate user interface to improve speech-enabled customer service.”We’re able to offer a much more personalized service to our customers by incorporating speech recognition into our self-service platform,” said Kurt Mey, national technology manager for Nestle Waters North America, Inc.”Customers are able to complete their transactions in a much more natural, conversational manner than they could ever do in a touch-tone environment.”The Future of Speech RecognitionTechnology groups throughout Cisco are rapidly innovating to add speech recognition to the Cisco Unified Communications portfolio of products. Speech solutions are being incorporated into existing unified communications applications, embedded into the company’s Integrated Services Routers (ISRs) for branch offices, made part of the Cisco Unified Application Environment in order to allow developers to integrate speech services in a variety of applications, and enhancing the customer service experience we offer in our customer contact solutions.Ultimately, Cisco will transform the user experience throughout our portfolio of unified communications solutions. For example, a speech interface could serve as your assistant, prompting you with”You have a MeetingPlace meeting in 10 minutes, would you like me to call you and connect you then?” and you can simply reply,”yes.” If you are running late, you could say”I’ll be ten minutes late” and an instant message will be sent to the participants with that notification. The speech assistant could also allow you to create ad hoc conferences by simply speaking”add” and then speaking the person’s name. Speech-to-text features could take your communications a step further, allowing you to speak into a communications client and have your conversation transcribed into a text message or email for delivery to a colleague or business partner. A”command and control” unified communications speech interface would provide the functions you need at the time you need them by knowing your calendar, your presence, your contacts and your devices.Speech is the most basic and natural human interaction -it connects us all. That’s why Cisco’s vision of the future involves the use of speech to command and interact with our communications applications and devices. Cisco’s goal is to design speech interactions with the user in mind, reducing frustration and confusion, while enhancing productivity and delivering a solution that works in a natural and effective manner.by Mark Gervase, solutions marketing manager, Cisco Unified Communications