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Hollywood Got Collaboration Right

If you’ve ever tried to dial in to a conference call from the school’s carpool lane after dropping off your kids and ended up with the other parents honking at you while you tried to join, you won’t recognize Hollywood’s version of collaboration.

On TV shows, no one is ever searching for a conference dial-in and in the movies when the hero rushes out of the conference room her video call instantly transfers to her phone without missing a beat.

Unfortunately the real world isn’t like the movies.  Our daily work lives are filled with the frustrations of trying to get technologies to work well together, as we all deal with the reality of outdated, complex, and difficult to use collaboration tools.

When I took over Cisco’s Collaboration group three years ago, I got to experience the great products and see the great experiences we could deliver.  But I also saw where the sitcoms got their material.

I told my team that we not only have to pay attention to the details, but that we need to let the future inspire us as we drive towards a totally seamless collaboration experience.  One where the right information just appears when it is supposed to, when all the technology just works, and where people pop in and out of virtual spaces like magic: Just like you might see in a futuristic movie.

Imagine a work week when you didn’t need to say “I’ll set up a meeting as soon as I am back at my desk,” because setting up a meeting from your mobile device was actually easy to do. Or one in which you could spontaneously share a document with a colleague who called you, because every call is also a meeting.  Or one when joining a conference call from your car meant was a one-touch experience and didn’t require pulling over so you could write down the meeting number and password.

To get work done, people need to be able to message, meet and call each other without thinking about it and without stopping to consider what device they are using.  Whether they are on a room system, a desktop phone, or a mobile phone, they should all work the same.

When you get a call you should be able to answer on any of your devices–and if you want to change the device you are using, that should be easy too.

Today’s announcements about moving our core collaboration products to the cloud under a single platform, Spark, take us to this reality.

With the new Cisco Spark platform– and the groundbreaking new collaboration technologies built upon it–we can finally start to usher in that futuristic world we’ve all been dreaming of.  We can’t wait to share it with you.

Check out the replay of my keynote at Collaboration Summit where I go into detail about our latest collaboration announcements.

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Boston Consulting Group Names Cisco to its Top 50 Most Innovative Companies List

I’m pleased and proud to report that Cisco was named this week as one of the Top 50 Most Innovative Companies by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). This marks the third year in a row that we’ve been included on this prestigious list alongside other industry innovators like Apple, Google, and Tesla. In all, we’ve been included in nine out of the last ten reports.

I’m even more pleased to see how well our engineering direction aligns with the criteria that BCG highlights as defining the most innovative of all companies. Those criteria are:

1. The Rising Need for Innovation Speed.

The Internet-fueled transformation of industries is happening at incredible speed. From hospitality to health care, TV to telecommunications, our customers are calling upon us to help them out-wit, out-pace, and out-innovate potential disruptors. I’m exhilarated by how our engineers are rising to this challenge.

Take the service provider industry, for example. This is a market that’s under incredible pressure to drive new revenues by rapidly delivering communications and business services securely with greater agility, automation, and simplicity – at a lower cost.

With a project called ‘xSpeed’, Cisco delivered powerful software innovations for cloud networking that precisely met service provider needs in just 13 weeks. The xSpeed team had autonomy to execute and they delivered first demos within three weeks. xSpeed is one of our internal startups, called Alpha’s, combining the speed and agility profile of a startup with the resources and scale of Cisco.

2. Strong Innovators are Lean Innovators.

BCG calls out the power of small teams. I couldn’t agree more! The culture I have been driving within engineering is to have my engineers “Think Big, Act Small” while we provide the autonomy to execute. Another great example of our success here is the rapid rise of Cisco Spark, our team collaboration application that is transforming the way teams stay connected. That team has experimented, taken risks, dared to break glass – and customers are loving the outcomes! On that note, watch out for more exciting Spark news at our Collaboration Summit next week!

3. Enabling Technology-Enabled Innovation.

We have encouraged our customers to embrace digital, connected business processes. We’ve also led the world for three decades in connecting our own business processes, from the way we close our books to the way we empower our sellers. How we innovate has become technology-enabled too. Today we’re creating end-to-end engineering workflow automation and enabled continuous integration for our agile development efforts. The result is that we’re moving faster than ever. We have reduced technology build time by 50 to 60% in many cases. And we’ve created iterative processes to enable us to review internal demos every two weeks. How’s that for technology-enabled innovation!

4. The Prerequisites of Profitable Adjacent Growth.

Pursuing market adjacencies has always been a Cisco strength. Today, more than 40% of our product revenues are generated by businesses outside of switching and routing. And we’re aggressively pursuing more areas of innovation, including Edge Computing, data analytics at the edge, and the Internet of Things.

Cisco engineering is maniacally focused on creating innovation that matters to our customers. And I’m proud to see our efforts recognized in this report. It’s a great accolade to the 22,000+ engineers who are powering Cisco’s Innovation Engine every day!

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As Manufacturers Go Digital, Customer Value Expands

Every single day, I’m reminded that a digital revolution is taking place—from researching local coffee places on the dashboard of my car to ordering coffee on my mobile device—it’s clear that our lives are becoming more digitized. This is also apparent for the businesses and industries that manufacture the goods that we use everyday. In order to compete today, manufacturers must respond to complex and constantly changing demands from their customers. That requires the agility, rapid innovation, and fast execution that only digital manufacturing can deliver. Too many manufacturers, however, still lack these critical capabilities and suffer from fragmented and siloed organizational structures.

This was reinforced by new research from Cisco on the current and future state of digital disruption in manufacturing. The study included economic analysis, interviews with manufacturing industry thought leaders, and a survey of more than 600 senior leaders from 13 countries, representing both industrial machine builders and end-user manufacturers.

Our research confirmed that manufacturers get it. They understand that a digital revolution is taking place, and they want to be part of it. Seventy-nine percent believe that digital disruption will drive a moderate to major impact at their companies in the next three years. Moreover, they see digital technologies such as cloud, IoT, and analytics as having the biggest impact on their production — not more manufacturing-centric technologies such as robotics and 3D printing.

However, in terms of driving new value, many are faltering. Their service strategies, for example, are seen as a key opportunity for new revenue, but they are not driving expected levels of growth.

Digital business transformation is the solution, but it can’t be done in a piecemeal fashion; it must be implemented across the entire organization and beyond, throughout the ecosystem. Analytics, cloud, machine-to-machine connections, and collaboration tools all enable new opportunities for sharing data insights. Getting those insights to the people (or machines) who need them most, on the other hand, can be challenging. In this context, silos — between IT and operational technology (OT), engineering and design, and so forth — are the enemy to progress.

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Executing on Our Vision and Strategy: The Future of Networking for an Application Centric World

We shared our vision for the future of networking over a year and a half ago.

Today, we continue to execute on our vision and strategy. Our customers and partners continue to derive the value of these innovations to the fullest potential.

We are extending our leadership in SDN with the most complete solution portfolio today, driving choice in automation and programmability for our customers. Solutions based on open APIs, standards and a broad ecosystem for three approaches: programmable networks, programmable fabrics and a turnkey approach with Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI).

Cisco ACI continues its focus on three primary areas: (1) automation through policy; (2) consistent support for physical, virtual and containers; and (3) open, standards-based with embedded security. Add a centralized pane of management, scale, and a broad and deep ecosystem, and you have 1100+ satisfied customers, and the 2015 Best of Interop in SDN category (my sales plug…).

The future of networking is here. We’ve created an infrastructure that is hypervisor agnostic, with the most advanced security enforcement capabilities on the market today. Manage your entire fabric with a familiar user interface. And manage policy across any endpoint group – physical, virtual, and containers with a consistent security posture.


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Software and Digitization Are Leading Business Transformation

Companies are embracing the idea of the digital enterprise as an “inevitable movement toward a ‘digital center’ in which business models, offerings and value chains are digitized to the maximum extent possible.” Digitization offers promising prospects for improved customer experience, closer employee engagement, and more agile IT and business operations. And software innovation is at the heart of what makes it all happen.

Just what is digitization? At its simplest level, digitization is about bringing together connected things and processes through automation and analytics to provide new insights and value. It can be offering a traditional service in a new online and interconnected way such as mobile banking. Or it can be offering an entirely new service based on unique insight harnessed from a network of devices, or from an active series of transactions, such as an early-warning fraud-alert service. As consumers, we experience the benefits of digitization every day in the many mobile and online apps we use.

And this trend is behind the emergence of new companies built on digitization that have quickly risen to multi-billion dollar valuations. Tom Goodwin of TechCrunch writes:

“Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.”

What all of these companies have in common is a digitized business model that allows them to deliver a new level of customer experience through innovation in software. Winning companies will delight and amaze their customers. Customer experience is the new competitive battlefield.

Through software, Cisco can help companies take advantage of these opportunities. Cisco Collaboration and Cisco ONE mobility software for example can help a retailer deliver an unparalleled customer experience. Let’s say a shopper is using her smartphone to browse a retailer’s web site. Cisco software innovation enables “Click to chat” with video capabilities so she can get personalized, live help in making a decision. And with Cisco Connected Mobile Experience (CMX), the retailer can better understand the shopper’s exact preferences and profile to help them locate the closest store that carries the item, generate promotions, etc.

Shopping is just one of the many areas in which winning businesses are continually blurring the physical and digital boundaries. Please join the discussion and let me know if there are areas in your business that you’ve digitized successfully, and if you have others in the works.

JB

 

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