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Virtual Work Works, But Don’t Confuse Technology with Change Management

April 3, 2013 at 4:33 pm PST

I was in a brainstorm meeting about my team’s next-generation strategy last week, and we made a number of random connections that knitted together a pretty big idea — the kind of dot-connecting that only happens when people with different (and sometime conflicting) perspectives trust each other in the pursuit of an important goal.

Five of us worked on the idea, but only two of us were in the room physically together. Yes, I’ll say it out loud:  three people were working from home.

Much has been said and written recently about the value of working virtually, and I don’t think you can sub-divide mobility into “at home” and “on the road.” Social technologies, video and mobile platforms make it easy to work from just about anywhere.

But as leaders, we have to resist the temptation to confuse technology with change management -- despite our love affair with technology. Any time technology brings a sea-change transformation to the way humans do stuff, especially work stuff, we can’t forget that people work in organizations — and organizations are an amalgam of culture, processes and technology.

All of Cisco’s experience has taught us that Read More »

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Finding the Right Collaboration Tools for the Right Roles

March 29, 2013 at 9:21 am PST

I collaborate, you collaborate, we all collaborate. An organizational chart may show hierarchy, but it doesn’t represent how people actually interact within – and beyond– an organization. Our roles don’t affect whether we collaborate, but do influence our needs, priorities, and the devices we use.

There’s a clear advantage to technology that empowers people to engage and creates a consistent user experience so that the interaction essentially the same – anywhere, on any device. Just as our roles differ, so do our collaboration priorities and device needs. But we don’t work only with others in our own role. We need to collaborate with people across the spectrum within an organization.

I use three or more devices to collaborate in a single workday. Frankly, you shouldn’t care. Before you and I talk, we shouldn’t need to take a mutual device inventory to figure out how to connect. If I don’t have to focus on what I’m doing to interact with you, I can focus on the conversation and the whole reason we’re connecting.

We’ve outlined five user personas to illustrate how collaboration technology can best serve the needs of people in different roles. Click through on a persona to get more information and to see the use cases that support their needs. Read More »

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Video Collaboration: As Easy As Voice

March 26, 2013 at 6:00 am PST

This blog is third and final in a series of blogs glimpsing into the future of video collaboration. The first blog was Video Collaboration: Better Than Being There.  The second blog was Video Collaboration: On Every Pane of GlassWe encourage you to read the series and let us know your thoughts.

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Let’s face it, there are times when many of us have had a challenging experience connecting everyone in a meeting with video. Delivering an improved experience is equally important for the end users as is for IT.

From the end user perspective, intuitive interactions, icon-driven interfaces, voice features in video phones, integrated help guides, and the availability of better applications that deliver consistent user video experiences across their many devices are all good things. This in turn makes the users less dependent on IT, and reduces the barriers for deployment. It is really simple — if a user likes what they use for these video experiences, then they will share it with other users and will help to onboard them. This leads to more people on the same platform, and as the video experience gets more broadly deployed, the benefits can be achieved by more people at more places. That is social networking 101. The BIG differences in the enterprise environment is that those new video experiences should be powered by an architecture and applications that deliver security, identity, quality, scale, reach and transparent integration with the rest of the IT applications the users require to work. But with the right architecture in place, the journey to a better video collaboration experience is well mapped and available from day 1.

From the IT perspective, these new video tools need to deliver business class, reliable, scalable, and highly integrated experiences. Video should be secure and video should be compliant. The software and hardware architecture should leverage the power of the network to make video as easy to turn up as voice. Having a single call control, conferencing, and management platform to administer all the services is key. Cisco is the only vendor in the market that can offer all these components (and the network layer integration). All these elements together help to make video a more effective business tool that drives video adoption and success.

We’re at a tipping point leading into the next wave of video innovation, delivering pervasive business benefits for users across the organization. Making video as easy as voice is a big step forward that spans the end to end user experience.

Cisco has been driving the waves of video innovation — helping businesses to empower, engage, and innovate — every step of the way:

  • From the first wave when we pioneered with the first architecture for voice, video and integrated data (AVVID) we helped to deliver video over the network as a communication tool.
  • Then Cisco drove the movement of video from a niche, optional communication vehicle for a few people, difficult to use, and IT support-intensive, to a one-touch, easy to use, IT automated, and fully integrated communications and collaboration tool that helped video to be the mainstream communication and collaboration tool we have today.
  • Right now we are working on driving the third wave of video innovation by making video fully integrated into business processes in order to leverage its power and reach as a business-critical application for all users — on every device and location. All powered by the intelligence of the network and the flexibility of our software. Our Medianet capabilities are paving the road for more pervasive video experiences for all devices and networks, based on open standards.

So if you believe — as I do — that video is here to stay, then dare to be bold and imagine what video can do for you and your business when video experiences can be better than being there, there is video on every pane of glass, and video can be as easy or easier than voice.

Learn about our video collaboration strategy and new recently announced pervasive video and conferencing solutions by watching our March 19 & 20 Collaboration Announcement Webcasts on demand now, including strategic overviews and demonstrations by Cisco leaders.  Then learn more technical details about the features and architecture that differentiate these new Cisco video, WebEx and unified communications solutions by attending our live April 16 Technical Briefing with Q&A.  I encourage you to learn more and register now now.

Roberto

 

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“Your call is important but we’re not in right now – leave a message…”

This is the fifth in a series of blogs comparing and contrasting the Microsoft and Cisco approaches to providing enterprise collaboration in the post-PC world. The first blog discussed the differences between a purpose-built architecture and a desktop-centric approach that needs third party extensions to make a working enterprise-class system. The second blog discussed how the two companies are approaching the trend towards “Bring your own device” (BYOD) to work. The third  blog discussed how the two companies deliver voice and video. The fourth blog examined true cost to deploy. Today’s blog addresses enterprise class support.

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These days, workers at enterprise organizations depend on real-time collaboration solutions to get their jobs done.  The solutions need to work 24/7, and if something goes wrong, it’s imperative things get fixed fast. In a world where customers view 100% uptime as the only acceptable Service Level Agreement (SLA), solid customer support means everything. While we could all live without email for a day or two, few businesses could function without working telephones for that long, or would trust ‘crossed-fingers’ while the CEO meets with an important customer over a video link.

At Cisco, we feel that support for business critical solutions should not become a guessing game of “who you gonna call”.  In fact, we think the right way to handle support is to offer the option of ‘”one-stop” responsibility for the entire system — from the software to the endpoints, switches, gateways, security and compute hardware, and other technologies as required.

After all, given the vast array of offerings today from a multitude of vendors, the chances are slim that the wide range of components used in collaboration will all have the same management interfaces, diagnostic, and testing routines to determine where an issue lies when a problem arises. We also know that even if you are able to track down the root cause of the problem, some third parties may have very limited specialist support staff and escalating issues can be incredibly challenging. We prefer that our customers spend their time driving their business, versus spending countless hours trying to resolve problems where finger pointing is the name of the game.

As my colleague Rowan Trollope blogged recently, we feel Microsoft’s approach is very different. First off, a Microsoft Lync enterprise deployment requires Read More »

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Getting a Grip on Data in Motion to Understand How We Collaborate

March 22, 2013 at 6:00 am PST

Cisco Collaboration Services is offering an exciting new service called Organizational Network Analysis (ONA), which we’ve developed to help companies give meaning to that massive amount of data generated by email, instant messaging, web conferencing, TelePresence, and other collaborative tools. ONA quantifies how people use these social tools to predict how creative, innovative, and productive they are within the teams they work.

Of course, companies have been investing in these sorts of technologies for many years with the belief they would encourage more collaboration among workers and make communication faster and easier. But, until now, there has been no way to measure the true impact of these collaborative tools. Yes, there have been various ways to capture metrics including inventories of tools, surveys of users, and benchmarking, which measures employees’ real use of tools and compares it with best practices.

Take a look at this “It’s the Connections that Matter Most” infographic which helps illustrate the meaningful insight ONA finally brings to light.

I recently had a great conversation with Dr. Peter Gloor from MIT’s Sloan School of Management and two of my colleagues from the Cisco collaboration practice, Dave Bauhs and Stori Hybbeneth, about this breakthrough service, how it came to be, and what organizations can gain from it.  I invite you to read the transcript now:  Read More »

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