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The Evolution of Cisco Spark: Complete Collaboration from the Cisco Cloud

Over the past few years we’ve shared our vision to deliver a single collaboration experience that spans all modes of communication. We’ve talked about how we’ll achieve that vision by providing business collaboration solutions that are experience-centric, cloud connected, and that extend the value of our customers’ existing investments.

We took a foundational step toward achieving that vision when we launched Cisco Spark as a team collaboration app in March of 2015. It was built on a new, modern cloud platform and we promised that it was just the beginning of a journey. We’ve continued to leverage that modern cloud platform to rethink collaboration. Today we’re taking a big leap forward on the Cisco Collaboration journey with you.

Moments ago, on mainstage at Collaboration Summit 2015, we announced the evolution of Cisco Spark. It is now a complete business collaboration service from the Cisco cloud that enables customers to message, meet, or call anyone, anywhere and anytime. Cisco Spark is hosted by Cisco and sold by partners.

Visit the Cisco Spark Partner Launch Page 

The evolved Cisco Spark is designed for customers of any size, and delivers a mobile-first, single collaboration experience that spans all modes of communication.

Core Components of Cisco Spark

Today’s historic announcement reflects the evolution of Cisco Spark from a mobile app to a platform to an entire ecosystem, with the inclusion of Spark APIs, SDKs and a new Developer site. The emergence of a full collaboration service platform wouldn’t be complete if others couldn’t build on it! In addition to the existing messaging service, we‘ve added full calling and meeting capabilities to the cloud.  And to extend the value of our customers’ existing investments, we’ve announced a set of services that connect Cisco Powered Hosted Collaboration Solutions (HCS) and our on-premises call control solutions with Cisco Spark capabilities in the cloud.

It’s a major leap forward; our Collaboration Cloud has become the center of every experience we are delivering. It is the fabric that connects everything we have – phones, rooms, video, Spark, WebEx, and APIs.

Spark Partner Overview Presentation_Dec-2015_003

Partner Benefits

So it’s clear the way people work is fundamentally changing and today’s announcement puts partners at the center of this transformation.

I see three distinct categories for partners to take full advantage of this new Cisco Spark cloud based collaboration service:

Growth: The new cloud service opens up paths to reach new small and mid-market customers in ways not possible before.  With help from Cisco, you can sell Spark in a simple, volume-sales model. You can position a solution to a specific business department and leverage that relationship to move across the organization and expand your opportunity by delivering additional solutions.

With the new hybrid services capabilities, you can also grow by selling Cisco Spark to your existing Cisco customers. You can extend the value of their on-premise or managed solutions, including Unified Communications Manager (UCM), the Business Edition series or Hosted Collaboration Solutions (HCS).

By seamlessly connecting on-premises call control with the cloud based message and meeting capabilities of Spark, you can maximize the unique attributes and capabilities of each. You can create new opportunities with these existing customers, enabling them to work smarter and innovate faster, and helping them manage their transition to the cloud. This transformation will enable customers to change the way they work, and take a big leap forward on their own digital journey.

Profit: You can profit from selling the service and related endpoints, and by adding your own margin rich services. And you’ll continue to profit from new annuity-based recurring revenue streams.

Differentiate: This starts by offering a cloud collaboration service that is simple, secure and complete, compared to the many disparate cloud offers in the market that customers piece together today. But the biggest opportunity to differentiate is by offering customization. The Cisco Spark Developer Platform provides a way for you to differentiate by customizing the integration of Spark with various native customer applications for different industries, or by working with developer partners who can do this to help you deliver for your customer

The innovative cloud platform, app centric design, hybrid services and architecture of the Cisco Spark Service create, we believe, a very powerful and differentiated offering in this space.

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Top Cisco Collaboration Partners for 2015 Recognized with Awards

How exciting and inspiring it was to welcome partners from around the world to Collaboration Summit 2015 last night! We had a great time, and I could tell as we said goodnight, that we were all brimming with anticipation for the next few days. I can confirm for all of you, we will be sharing some historic news that will greatly accelerate our collaboration business.

For those who are not with us in person, I strongly recommend tuning into the live stream of the keynotes from Rowan and Jonathan today at 9:00 a.m. PT – or catching the replay on demand. I could not be more excited to share the news with you this week, and for the success we’ll certainly create together in 2016 and beyond.

Last night, we were thrilled to recognize a select number of our partners with well-deserved awards for their outstanding performance in fiscal 2015. On behalf of the entire Cisco team, it is my sincere pleasure to recognize them again here. And extend my warm thanks to all of our valued partners for the success we shared this past year.

2015 Cisco Collaboration Partner Award Winners:

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Cisco Partner Weekly Rewind – December 4, 2015

Cisco Partners Weekly Rewind Banner-650

Each week, we’ll highlight the most important Cisco Partner Ecosystem news and stories, as well as point you to important, Cisco-related partner content you may have missed along the way. Here’s what you might have missed this week:

Off the Top

Cisco Collaboration Summit Next Week

The 8th annual Cisco Collaboration Summit kicks off next week in San Francisco.  You can follow live as Rowan Trollope, SVP/GM Cisco Collaboration Technology Group, will be discussing the latest updates to Cisco’s Collaboration strategy.

You can always expect something new to be announced here and I highly advise watching live on Tuesday to catch the latest Collaboration news right when it’s delivered on stage. Also, login to Twitter and join the social conversation using the event hashtag #csummit.

And be sure to check back right here next week on the partner blog for more from Collaboration Summit!

In the Channels News

Good Reads

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Cisco Partner Weekly Rewind – November 20, 2015

Cisco Partners Weekly Rewind Banner-650

Each week, we’ll highlight the most important Cisco Partner Ecosystem news and stories, as well as point you to important, Cisco-related partner content you may have missed along the way. Here’s what you might have missed this week:

Off the Top

CEO Robbins Has Cisco On The Fast Track, And Partners Are Ready, Set, Go

There has been no shortage of major moves since Chuck Robbins took over the helm at Cisco less than 4 months ago. He is moving Cisco at an unprecedented pace.

And while here at Cisco we see the strategy as moving quickly towards growth and adjusting to fast-moving markets, it’s always best – at least in my opinion – to hear what our partners have to say.

Luckily, CRN’s Mark Haranas checked in with Cisco partners this week for their reaction to the CEO’s moves.  I encourage you to read his excellent article for what our partners think.

Cisco ACI Awarded InfoWorld Editor’s Choice

InfoWorld, a top IT publication, recognized Cisco’s powerful SDN solution, ACI, with the Editor’s Choice award based on an impressive overall review score of 9.6 out of 10.

An excerpt from the review:

“Cisco ACI is a powerful solution that’s designed for large-scale deployments. It represents a significant step away from traditional networking in both design and scale, and a significant step forward in managing Cisco networks through an open and modern API control structure.”

Our own Rick Snyder provided a snapshot on why this is both an important and impressive recognition. Be sure to read his thoughts on the partner blog.

Need to Reach More Customers? Tell Your Story through Social!

Bryan Sherlock is a regular contributor to the partner blog and is a heavy advocate for our partners. His specialty? Providing marketing enablement best practices and tips to help you grow your business and brand.

This week he says tell your story through social media to reach more customers.  I have to agree wholeheartedly.

Take a Breather: Give Yourself a Mental Break for Optimal Productivity

Karin Surber is back this month providing partners excellent tips in and around sales. This week’s topic was one of my favorites. Why you say?

According to Karin and the research she has done, we should all be taking more naps, vacations, and breaks to reach optimal productivity and maintain mental performance. That’s what I’m saying!

So, take a break and read her insightful post. Read More »

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Take a Breather: Give Yourself a Mental Break for Optimal Productivity

Working in sales often seems like a race to the finish. Longer hours can mean the difference between winning and losing the deal.  But those long hours often reach a point of diminishing returns. Have you ever considered the opportunity costs of working too hard? Is it possible that meeting your sales goal may require working LESS hours?

There are vast amounts of research available showing that we all have a limited amount of mental resources to leverage. So when we are constantly exhausting those resources, we are not as productive as we can be. The brain, just like a muscle, gets fatigued after too much time on the job. If you overwork your muscles without a break, you will eventually cause damage. The same is true of your brain. Burning up mental resources without replenishing leads to stress, burnout and poor performance. It becomes difficult to think creatively, solve problems, maintain emotional stability and have the persistence needed to complete required tasks. So just like taking a breather after an hour of Zumba or basketball, our brains need a break from work as well.

According to one study by Entrepreneur, the point of mental exhaustion occurs within three hours. But many scientists say our brains need a break after just 90 minutes. And there are large bodies of work showing that people who take regular mental breaks have higher levels of productivity than those who don’t.

Here are some tips to maintain your peak mental performance:

  1. Take short breaks during the day. Every 45-90 minutes pause to take a walk to the restroom, do some stretches at your desk, grab a coffee or simply doodle on some paper. The optimal break schedule for the time-pressed person is one six minute break every 80 minutes, according to Healthdecide.com. These little breaks will help refresh your mind and give you the added energy you need to focus. But make sure you step away from the “screen”. Taking breaks to scroll your Facebook site or shop online doesn’t reap the same benefits.
  2. Take more frequent vacations. A 2014 Oxford Economics Assessment of Paid Time Off in the U.S. showed 42% of employees with paid time off finished the year with unused days, leaving an average of 8.1 days unused. But more people might take those unused vacation days if they realized that those who take vacations tend to enjoy both mental and physical benefits: less stress, less risk for heart disease, decreased depression rates, and more motivation to achieve goals. Bottom line, healthier employees are happier and more engaged. And the anticipation of an upcoming vacation can boost positivity for up to eight weeks prior to the trip, according to a 2010 study in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life.
  3. Consider taking a mid-afternoon nap. Naps can enhance performance, restore alertness, and reduce mistakes and accidents. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%. (Many companies have started making “Nap rooms” available to employees for this very reason. To make the most of your nap, experts say, rest in a cool, dark room and limit your nap to 20 or 40 minutes.

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