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Listening to Our Customers

At Cisco, there are two factors that drive strategic decision making --  technology transitions that promise to re-shape industries, and feedback from our customers.

Those factors lead us into new markets, to make acquisitions, and to invest in creating new technologies. The positive disruption represented by the cloud computing transition was what led us to introduce a Cisco hosted email product in November 2009. Customers told us they were interested in divesting responsibility for managing email on-premise in much the same way as they outsourced conferencing to Cisco via our SaaS WebEx Conferencing service.

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Use Social Media to Sell Smarter: Insights from our WebEx Event

On Feb. 3rd, Brian Fetherstonhaugh, Chairman and CEO of OgilvyOne facilitated a WebEx featuring a panel of thought leaders who shared their knowledge and experiences in using social media to create powerful sales strategies. In part one, Brian shared some amazing research about the changes social media has made to the sales cycle. Today, in part two, we’ll hear from the panel. You can listen to the entire WebEx here.

Meet the panel:

Sam Decker: founder of Mass Relevance. He worked with Dell on their ecommerce engine and also was CMO of Bazaarvoice. Now he is curating content. All of the millions and billions of pieces of content around the world, he pulls it together and curates it so that marketers and salespeople can engage with buyers.

Barbara Weaver Smith: founder and president of The Whale Hunters -- a strategic sales coaching firm. They help small businesses grow explosively by finding bigger customers and signing up bigger deals.

Sergio Balegno: director of research with Marketing Sherpa and MECLABS. His company has a phenomenal repository of over 7,000 case histories for the marketing and sales community.

The discussion in Part One focused on how the sales/buying cycle has really changed because of social media. As a result, selling has changed too. In part two, the discussion turned to evidence of this change and tips for dealing with it.

Is this change in buyer behavior happening in small businesses as well?

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Follow the Leader: Great Business Advice from Cisco’s Inder Sidhu

One of our favorite bloggers is Senior Vice President of Strategy and Planning for Worldwide Operations at Cisco, Inder Sidhu. He frequently writes for Forbes and covers trending business news with a unique look at how business is evolving.

From 2006-2010, Inder co-led Cisco’s Emerging Countries Council, which drives business success in fast-growing geographies like China, India, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, and the Middle East. From 2006-2009, he co-led the Enterprise Business Council, which is responsible for Cisco’s corporate business, representing about half of the company’s total revenue.

He is the author of “Doing Both: How Cisco Captures Today’s Profit & Drives Tomorrow’s Growth“, a New York Times bestseller. The book identifies common business dichotomies and explores how successful companies avoid difficult tradeoffs and instead achieve bigger outcomes by “doing both.”

You can read Inder’s blog here and follow him on Twitter at @indersidhu.

WebEx helps you get out! Get mobile with Android, iPhone, Blackberry!

Last week, we released the WebEx mobile for Android. We heard a lot of positive chatter on Twitter and Facebook (thank you) it is has already been named one of the best apps on Android. This is just one of many mobile applications we have for mobile devices aimed at helping you collaborate from wherever you are.

Some of the buzz:

@jhammond: Trying webex Android client for the first time. Working great!

@jennifer_drago: just used the new @WebEx app for android. WOW…what a lifesaver.

@vm365#WebEx Hits a homerun with Android launch. Looks amazing on my #GalaxyTab http://tinyurl.com/4cwfjsa (expand#ohyeah #webinar

@LarsPeters#WebEx goes #Android! Great to just click on cal. and be dialed into the call… expect dramatic drop in accident rate on the 101 [freeway]

Work free. Step away from the computer.

All these mobile applications work on a variety of devices using WebEx Meeting Center -- Read More »

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The (Social) Road Ahead For Unified Communications, Video & Mobility

One of the new themes at this year’s Enterprise Connect conference is “The Social Enterprise”.  The topic should be viewed as a welcome addition to the event. Until now, the Enterprise 2.0 conference has been the primary community gathering for those interested in collaboration, communities, and social networking. While I have been a long-time advocate of the Enterprise 2.0 event, I am also enthusiastic about the topic covered at Enterprise Connect. An in-depth conversation regarding the synergies between Enterprise 2.0 with unified communications, video, and mobility is long overdue.

Virtually all technology commonly associated with Enterprise 2.0 is asynchronous. Whether you are talking about blogs, wikis, or social network sites – the response from the IT industry has mostly been to improve different aspects of asynchronous work. That’s not a bad thing. People cannot always work together in real-time. Being able to post information to a community or public audience can be a powerful way of making information more visible. Having the ability for employees to network across the organization or create communities where they can share best practices can be a powerful solution for discovering talent and scaling expertise. However, our beliefs regarding how social tools can help organizations should not be constrained to asynchronous work. The industry has created an unfortunate perception that there is a divide between Enterprise 2.0 and synchronous work.

Micro-blogging and activity streams are examples of a near-time user experience for social tools that have synergies with unified communications. We can easily imagine how presence and click-to-(call / IM / conference) can be added to these experiences so we can immediately connect with someone. We can also imagine how a micro-blogging hashtag (e.g., #ciscocollab) might provide a great way to make “group chat” within a web conferencing event more public. And there’s more – the Instant Messaging “buddy list” is treated as a private list of colleagues we are following. That hidden list could very well be turned inside-out and made public – similar to how micro-blogging tools show “following” and “followers”. Even video can become more social by making it easier to capture and share rich media content – including support for transcription, comments, and ratings. These are some possible ideas on how social, unified communications, and video can be combined. However, when we consider integrating tools associated with Enterprise 2.0 with tools associated with unified communications and video – we need to think beyond simply connecting one set of tools to another set of tools, or crudely plugging them into a monolithic, document-centric platform.

Which brings me in a roundabout way to Cisco Quad. Quad will be one of the Cisco solutions highlighted at Enterprise Connect. While Quad itself is not a unified communications or video solution, it represents a compelling framework for integrating and delivering those capabilities as part of an enterprise collaboration platform. Not only does Quad contain the expected features found in other social platforms on the market that focus on asynchronous interaction, it has been designed from the ground-up to include video and unified communications as a core architectural service. Quad’s integration model enables it to integrate with the other systems employees use to get work done. That’s what organizations should expect from an enterprise collaboration platform. Standards-based integration helps Quad add critical business context to its social capabilities and makes collaboration more immediately actionable through its integration with unified communications. In addition, support for mobility has not been an after-thought but included within its design as a first-class end-point in terms of user experience and functionality.

The business need for people to connect, share, learn, and collaborate has been inhibited by the technology silos we’ve created over the past decade. Organizations undertaking strategic business initiatives involving unified communications, video, and mobility are now meeting up with parallel efforts focused on “social”. We should not be heading down the same path as we’ve done so many times before and create additional technology silos. What attendees will learn at Enterprise Connect is how Cisco Quad enables them to bring unified communications, video, collaboration, and Enterprise 2.0 initiatives together within a common architectural framework that leverages existing investments and emerging IT standards (e.g., OpenSocial).