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How Cisco Scored a Spot on TWiST

If you don’t know about the podcast series, This Week in Startups (TWiST), hosted by my friend Jason Calacanis, it’s worth checking out. Jason is a legendary investor and media mogul who has his fingers in every part of the tech industry. Each week, he brings CEOs, business founders, venture capitalists, angel investors, and tech experts into his San Francisco studio to talk about the latest trends and happenings inside the world of Silicon Valley and beyond.

I first met Jason around 10 years ago in Los Angeles. We were playing poker at a friend’s game. His brash poker playing style matches his approach to investing: nothing ventured, nothing gained. But unlike his approach to prospective business ventures, in poker, Jason never met a hand he didn’t like.

Since I’m part of this little startup Cisco, I got to be a guest on the show last week, episode 552. Jason invited me on to talk about entrepreneurship and how it’s been finding its way into big companies. We covered it all – DIY video conferencing, our new business messaging app Cisco Spark (and how he thinks we can monetize it), why John Chambers gave me a job, our theories on mergers and acquisitions, how AirBnB is improving lives, Uber pooling, Luxe, and, actually, a lot more.

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Should I Use Cisco Spark in my Contact Center?

It has been more than a year since I started using Cisco Spark. And it has been a year of learning and changing how I work with my team…and I’m still learning. My focus and passion at Cisco is customer-care technology. I’m always thinking about how to apply new collaboration technologies to customer interaction:

  • Do new messaging applications like Cisco Spark belong in the contact center?
  • Should businesses be using them to communicate with customers?

On the first question: Absolutely.

Paul Stockford of Saddletree Research and I discussed this recently in, “Hip to Be Squared,” following the announcement of Cisco Spark.

Team collaboration is the fuel of a great contact center operation. Contact centers have always been and always will be about people.  (Note: I’m a huge proponent of self-service as the first/best option for customer care. But as long as there are people, there will be a need for assisted-service contact centers).

Contact center management aims to maximize the productivity of customer care teams. And I confidently say from personal experience that Spark is a great team productivity tool. Read More »

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Cisco Spark: Room for Everyone

My mom…one of the best moms out there in my book.  She plans our fun family reunions, plays a mean game of golf, and keeps a busy household in order.  And she’s also a successful businesswoman with a very full plate.  She runs marketing and advertising for a small business and is an active member of the community.  She is constantly multitasking – jumping between projects and meetings on a host of different topics.  She is “collaborating” all the time.

As a marketer of collaboration products, I can’t help but analyze how people work – especially folks that may not know about all the great collaboration technology out there.  My mom happens to be one of those people.  I’ve actually seen her drive to the office to review some creative designs or spend an hour composing a long email when some simple messaging could have helped her get to the point faster.  And despite her ability to multi-task as any good mom can, I’ve noticed that she often puts small tasks on hold while over-rotating on a key deliverable, later ending up behind schedule because she’s “catching up.”  But all of this is not for a lack of familiarity with technology.  She definitely holds the role of the Chief Technology Officer for our family (sorry dad)!

Until we launched Cisco Spark, Read More »

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Gartner Recognizes Cisco as a Leader for UC for Midsize Enterprises

gartner image 6_15Cisco positioned highest in “ability to execute” among Leaders in the first ever Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications for Midsize Enterprises, North America.

Many midsize organizations are seriously exploring solutions to replace maxed-out, expensive-to-maintain, and/or end-of-life PBXs. They’re weighing what they may need to support their future communications. This new Magic Quadrant from Gartner, published in May, is the first to look specifically at the unified communications requirements of midsize organizations with between 100 and 999 employees.

Phone System or Full UC&C Suite?

Many midsize organizations talk to us about deploying a new phone system. But most I talk to are balancing a much wider range of evolving challenges.  For example, those may include how to:

  • Empower an increasingly mobile workforce
  • Transform team working
  • Increase employee engagement

It’s important to consider vendors that not only fulfill your initial needs, but enable you to evolve. You need a solution that will scale as you grow and your priorities change. We feel that Cisco Business Edition 6000, which Gartner evaluated, features all the essentials. Read More »

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The Modular Enterprise

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Just before setting off for Cisco Live I heard an economist on the radio talk about the relative performance of leading countries. The key measure was productivity: GDP per worked hour. Certainly historic outcomes are important but they do tend to provide a historic view.

As we accelerate into the digital revolution, I started to think about the best way to measure company performance. Critically, what might indicate future market leadership? Where should a company focus when it comes to communications and collaboration? What is core and what will enable leaders to set themselves apart from competitors?

I decided to spend some time at Cisco Live asking customers for their perspectives. I arrived in San Diego with a long list of potential items. But after John Chambers spoke about market disruption brought about by digitization, I came away with a simple model:  The Modular Enterprise. Read More »

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