Many businesses think that video is a nice to have, but not a must have. Until, of course, they experience video and realize how much it adds to their interactions and decision making. Nowhere is this truer than in healthcare, where seeing patients is critical to the care they receive, and can’t be done any other way. For example, the doctors at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC) use Cisco WebEx with video to make virtual house calls to children in Nicaragua, who require post surgery following an extensive cleft palate surgery. When the speech therapist in Baltimore is able to show the young patient in Nicaragua how to say Gato (Cat in Spanish) using WebEx, the results are immediate and rewarding.
Watch how these doctors at the GBMC provide speech therapy to children in Nicaragua below:
Over the next few years, there will be a big transformation in the workplace as large numbers of Gen X and Y individuals start entering the workforce. As these same individuals rely on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter for communication, employers are pressured into bringing similar tools into their enterprises but, in a secure manner. Back in June, we announced limited availability for Cisco Quad, our software-based enterprise collaboration platform, and the response has been overwhelming.
When applied against specific operating problems, enterprise social software is a mission critical application for those companies that want to grow, expand into new markets and increase productivity. It can transform the workplace and provide unmatched benefits to an organization:
Easier access to resources and expertise, allowing the user to reach out to a large number of relevant participants and bring them into a virtual discussion around a specific problem or challenge. It also captures, and makes searchable, these informal conversations.
Real-time communications through integration with voice, IM w/presence, conferencing, and video
Saves time & resources and drives better utilization of existing systems through pre-integrations with common IT infrastructure platforms
Delivers social networking without the risk by using built-in, rules-based policy management to any sensitive data, in any format, behind the firewall
Simplifies content management with streamlined content sharing and search capabilities
Meets the needs of the mobile worker with apps designed for mobile devices
On the surface, improving “business collaboration” sounds like a fairly straight-forward strategy: “provide the means for people to coordinate and share information while working together to attain business results that exceed current practices”. To support this goal, organizations have deployed a long list of tools over the years. The results? Mixed. Organizations can cite many examples where collaboration projects have made people and processes more productive. Yet, if you ask leadership teams, I imagine few would feel confident that their organization’s collaborative capabilities augment strategic growth and innovation initiatives in ways that makes them more competitive in the market.
After 15+ years of deploying more and more tools, we need to ask ourselves – why haven’t organizations realized the level of breakthrough collaboration necessary for them to excel -- or in some cases, survive? It’s not that the industry has not had any “wins” with collaboration strategies but success always seems to be stubbornly limited to certain groups or business units. Improving collaboration, it seems, has become an “intractable opportunity”. As it turns out, collaboration is a more complex and enduring journey than we originally thought. However, breakthrough levels of collaboration are often crucial to bring about business transformation. The potential benefits, despite its mixed track record, have kept “collaboration” a strategic topic for leadership teams despite our struggles to get it right.
Having been an IT industry analyst (i.e., Gartner, Burton Group, and Meta Group) since 1996, I’ve worked with hundreds of organizations on how to best approach collaboration. Listed below are a series of thoughts for your consideration: