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Collaboration Summit 2013: Don’t Forget the Kids!

Ask Rowan Trollope, Cisco’s new SVP/GM of collaboration, what industry execs he identifies most with these days and he just might say “those running toy companies”. After all, toymakers can’t build just for buyers (aka parents) or for users (aka kids). These groups tend to define “fun” a little differently, so favor one over the other and your business is headed in the same direction as T-Rex.

The same holds true in Enterprise Collaboration; design solely for “the parents”—the business, IT—you stand a really good chance of totally losing “the kids”— not just Gen Y-ers, though they are a huge force in the business world today, but anyone who is getting work done with colleagues, partners and customers around the globe and around the clock. These are savvy users—even the least technologically inclined spend half the day on pocket-sized supercomputers (smartphones, tablets). They’ve become accustomed to personal tech that is beautiful to look at, simple to use and simply works—right out of the box.

Just like kids have a huge say in what toys parents buy, today’s users have a huge say in what collaboration tools get used to get the job done. With this in mind, Cisco is totally-completely-wholly committed to delivering collaboration tools that appeal to “kids” and “parents” alike. From now on we’ll delight end-users with beautiful, simple products while at the same time delivering the security, scalability and manageability the business and IT demand.

So what did we announce? You can read the full press release here; below is some additional color commentary on my favorite of the newly announced innovations:

No more “let me call you right back.” We’ve all done it: arrived in the office mid-smartphone-discussion and suddenly the desk phone with its oh-so-ergonomically correct speakerphone Read More »

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A Generation X Perspective: Collaboration My Way?

I was recently digging through a closet at home and happened upon some boxes with old tech gadgets from years past.  As a Gen Xer who grew up with a Commodore 64 and whose first personal workplace productivity tool was a US Robotics Palm Pilot in 1997, it made me come to two realizations.  First, technology has really changed – and for the better.  And second, I need to start parting with things that no longer work in the current state of the working world.

My generation is described as highly individualistic.  We’re supposed to be technologically adept, flexible and value work/life balance.  And I can assure you I am all of those things.  But when I think about my career and how my generation’s cultural values have translated into the technological culture of the places I’ve worked in years past, it hasn’t always been rosy.  I used to be tethered to a cubicle with a desktop computer and telephone.  Things got slightly better with laptops, but there were no Apple products or personal devices allowed on the network.  One supported choice for a smartphone?  Not so smart, really.  But as new generations are entering the workforce after me, I’m seeing a dramatic shift occurring in thinking and approach.

I’m noticing that both organizations and technology providers alike are recognizing the need for change and designing for a new way of working – giving employees access to technology like never before. Whereas I used to have difficulty getting collaboration tools to do the job, now there is a plethora of them at my disposal.  But be careful what you wish for. Read More »

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Working Smarter: The Paradigm Shift in Business Collaboration

For the last few years I have had a growing conviction that my workplace collaboration tools were fundamentally broken and needed to be reinvented. So, last year when I was given the opportunity to join Cisco as the leader of their collaboration business I jumped at it. The way we work has changed dramatically over the last twenty years. The expectation that you can work from anywhere, at any time, has become the norm. Change is always hard within IT, but, as you read in my last post, it is the companies that embrace these new models of work who will benefit from a more innovative, efficient, and happier workforce.

Let’s face it, our primary collaboration tools were invented over twenty years ago when “working” looked very much like what you see in the popular TV show Mad Men – what I call the “Don Draper era.” A time when you went into the office, sat at your desk, had a physical landline, and a desktop PC loaded with legacy business tools; an environment that assumed we would always be in the office during normal business hours and behind the walled garden of IT. Fast forward to 2013 and look around, the way we work today is fundamentally different than the way we worked twenty years ago, yet many of our business IT systems and tools have been slow to catch up. In frustration, many employees are turning to the collaboration tools they use in their personal lives such as Dropbox, FaceTime, Gmail, Evernote, and Facebook to get their work done.

The rise of cloud and mobility have driven an acceleration in consumer technology so quickly that today, ironically, Read More »

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Calling all Extroverts! Why You’re Wired to Collaborate

I once had the amazing opportunity to interview Jack Welch at a Cisco event.  For 60 minutes we sat side-by-side on stage, within a few inches of each other, but there was no doubt he was the only person in the room in the eyes of the audience.   While his wisdom had the audience captivated, it was his extroverted personality that made the discussion truly fun and engaging.  As an extrovert, Welch fed off the audience’s rousing responses to his thoughts – and his occasional finger-wagging at the leaders in the audience about the future of competition.  The audience loved it.

Sometimes people mistake the behavior of extroverts as “showing off” or trying to command too much attention.  What Jack Welch taught me about extroverts is that their energy rises when they’re connecting with people; extroverts get excited when other people are excited to be with them.  As collaborators, extroverts can play a crucial role in group dynamics.  Action-oriented by nature, extroverts can compel a group forward – especially at key points of agreement or action.

My colleague Carl Wiese and I decided to devote an entire chapter of our book, The Collaboration Imperative (www.thecollaborationimperative.com), to the importance of personal communication styles and how to accelerate authentic conversations by collaborating in your natural style.  We even created a tool to help you improve your inter-personal communication profile: Read More »

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The Evolving UC Market: Cisco has you covered

Over the last few years, changes in computing, mobility, video and cloud have transformed the collaboration market profoundly and permanently. By listening to our customers and constantly innovating and improving on our market-leading Unified Communications platform, Cisco has been able to keep pace with these drastic market shifts.  Our customers and the industry are recognizing these efforts, and as a result, I am pleased to announce that Cisco has been positioned as a Leader in Gartner’s recently released 2013 Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications and received an ‘Excellent’ rating, the highest rating given in the 2013 Critical Capabilities for Unified Communications report.

Choosing the right UC solution for your business is about more than responding to the latest trends in cloud, mobility or software applications. One of the most basic criteria customers use when choosing their UC vendor is around how the UC solution fits into their current environment. We’ve learned that there is no “one size fits all” approach for our customers. Read More »

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