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Gamification on Cisco Blogs

Cisco blogs is excited to announce the updated and improved Social Rewards program! We think you’ll love the new features. Here’s a short list of the changes; check out the video for more details. Oh, and don’t forget to login—using login—or join today so you get credit for reading this post and watching the video!

Updated and new features:

  • Log In – We moved to login. If you don’t have an account already it’s easy to register, just click on the “Join Today” banner found on the right column of each blog page.
  • Notifications – You will receive a pop-up notification each time you earn a new badge! You can also share your accomplishment on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Missions – Learn what you need to do to earn your next badge by hovering over the icons under the “Earn More Badges” section of your Rewards console.
  • Leaderboards – See how you rank on the “My Leaderboard” widget found on each Members profile page. See who the top ten members are for the week and month on the “Learn More” page.
  • News Feed – Populates whenever anyone becomes a member, earns a new badge, or progresses to the next level.
  • Engagement Score – Replaces the Reputation meter; you can now earn points for everything you do. As your points add up you progress to the next level!
  • New Look – We updated the badges, added some new badges, and refreshed the overall look of the program.

We plan to add new challenges throughout the year; you will want to continue to participate so you don’t lose out on all the fun! Let the games commence!

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New Year = New #SocialRoundup Series

Happy New Year and welcome to our first #SocialRoundup. In this new blog series, we will be bringing you more highlights on our social media efforts and best practices. Here’s a recap on what you might have missed since the start of the New Year. Feel free to give us feedback on whether the information is useful.

Cisco at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES)

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, we developed several creative social assets during show week that helped tell our service provider story and highlight our participation in various conference events. Some of my favorites include an Instagram teaser video and promoting our campaign hashtag, #VideoInCloud, via airplane skywriting over the event center! Check out some of the great work below:

Read More »

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Marketing Automation Tools forcing Data Scientists to higher ground

The game is afoot – and this time around, it pits marketing automation tools against data science driven data products. Specialized digital marketing service providers against dyed-in-the-wool data geeks. Campaign management tools versus correlation driven, random forest, gradient boosting, data products.

Marketing automation tools have, in their short history, focused on delivering specialized services (serving up display advertising, managed paid search ads et al). But over the last few years, these tools have broadened their reach and gained access to considerable data – emerging beyond their specific channel of interest. Tools such as Tag Management Systems, with their data layer, seek to become the data-broker of record. Offerings such as Data Management Platforms (DMP) integrate deeply into re-targeting platforms as well as with first party data and deliver fine-tuned audience segmentation and other behavior profiles in near real-time which can be acted upon immediately to serve better content and deliver richer engagements with the visitor.

Data Scientists in the digital realm have often prospered by:

  • A cross-channel online focus – bringing together online data that, until now, was siloed and typical marketing automation tools had no visibility to
  • Combining online and offline (company owned) data sources to generate insights that an online-only focus will not be able to deliver
  • Adding third-party data (frequently purchased) to further embellish information about their customers and using the same for yielding further insights

The new wave of marketing automation tools are beginning to step into the first of these areas – by beginning to combine data across multiple online channels (website, mobile, social media, email et al). Offerings such as Audience Stream from Tealium are an example of such a product.

The marketing automation tools are also beginning to tap into the third space – bringing in third-party data to combine with company owned data – though the scope is presently limited to third-party online behavior of the visitors the company is interested in. This is the specialization that DMP from companies such as BlueKai offers.

How long before these marketing automation tools provide a method for pulling in offline data to significantly improve the analysis they can provide? And once the data is available, several push-button models can be added on top to deliver interesting insights. Some variation of this is beginning to happen already and by 2020, we may well be dealing with marketing automation tools that cover multi-channel online data as well as online + offline data – with all of it leveraged by push-button models that yield interesting new insights.

So then, where to for the Data Scientist of the Digital proclivity?

For now, there is plenty of gap still remaining that the home-grown (or consultant-driven) Data Science team can deliver insights through the gaps identified above. But then, the team has to continue to expand focus – both onto new data sources (in the world of IoT), in discovering new relationships (graph like approaches to discover and ask more interesting questions), processing larger amounts of data to generate new insights (using new statistical approaches as Math begins to catch up with Big Data), and really spending more time answering the frequently asked, but seldom answered, questions (“what is the customer’s intent when they arrive at a site”, “how best to move the customer along the conversion funnel”).

The age of marketing automation has arrived – coinciding with the increased burden on digital marketing to generate revenue producing leads. The scope and reach of marketing automation will continue to grow and will continuously challenge data science teams to move up the value-chain and deliver deeper insights and focus on answering the harder questions for the marketer.


“Invisible change” in your favorite web sites

My colleague Bill Skeet published an interesting blog a few weeks ago about “Invisible Change” — the improvement and innovation that happens quietly in digital experiences such as web sites and mobile apps. You may have noticed — or not noticed — this phenomenon on web sites you visit frequently. For instance, you may have noticed the shopping site updated its web design very recently, and that the new design feels newer and fresher but still retains all of the key functions that you’re familiar with as an Amazon customer. But, if you think back, you’ll realize has been continually changing for years, in thousands and thousands of microsteps. isn’t, but we also practice this continuual improvement regimen. In his post, Bill lists a number of improvements on that have happened quietly in the last year or so. These range from improved site search, to product search boxes in the support and downloads area, to 7,000 product model pages for support that were added to streamlined tools, and tweaked link labels and terminology to be more understandable. There have also been some significant updates in our online commerce areas for customers and partners.

Because improvements are rolled out incrementally, we have often found that even regular visitors had no idea about all of these changes. But, they were absolutely delighted as they interacted with some of the new features.

If you have a little time over this holiday-laden period of the next few weeks, feel free to spend some time interacting with, and I’ll bet you find at least a half-dozen things you didn’t notice before.


P.S. If you’re interested in how we drive continual improvements in our web and mobile experiences, one excellent process that we have developed at Cisco is something called our 5-Star Experience program. I’ll be writing about this in the near future, but here’s a sneak preview encapsulated into one graphic:


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Giving Agile A Brain

There’s a pretty great, short post from Business Insider last year that’s been getting re-circulation recently. It’s one-sentence summaries of famous business books like The Innovator’s Dilemma, Good to Great, Outliers, Purple Cow and The Lean Startup.

I particularly liked BI’s short summary Eric Ries’ book The Lean Startup, which is centered around the concept of creating a “minimum viable” product and then iterating on it, fed by with continual customer input and analytics. Here’s the nicely done reductionist summary:

“Rather than work forward from a technology or a complex strategy, work backward from the needs of the customers and build the simplest product possible.”

If you’ve been in tech the last few years – and especially in Silicon Valley – you won’t have escaped the term “Minimum Viable Product” (MVP), and you’ve undoubtedly been immersed in Agile development methodology. But there’s a dilemma in the seductive notion of Lean and MVP when misapplied: We all have seen teams who focus on the alluring idea of minimal without thinking about what will make the product viable from the standpoint of the customer: Across industries, we’ve seen that the “work backward from the needs of the customers” part is easy to miss in the rush to produce efficient code and quick deliverables.

This occasional lack of customer orientation has led to the backlash observation that “Agile doesn’t have a brain,” meaning it’s very good a producing efficiently, but not guaranteed to produce the right end products in the eyes of customers. We in tech have all seen this happen, and it’s vexing because it’s against the core principles of Agile to produce un-useful end deliverables.

Enter author Jeff Gothelf, an ardent evangelist for Lean and MVP thinking. Jeff is author of the excellent book Lean UX, and recently wrote about this “Agile doesn’t have a brain” topic in a really interesting post on the subject.

Jeff is working with us on some upcoming talks and a workshop, and in addition to what he says in the post above, brings some good advice for including design and customer thinking to the MVP debate:

  • Work “Lean” on projects, and focus relentlessly on the customer in your process and measures
  • Focus on user-driven metrics to understand how you’re doing 
  • Make sure designers and other key non-coding disciplines are in your agile sprints — they will add efficiency and dimension, helping to make sure the “right things” are being produced
  • Think “team,” not “roles” within the sprints (at Cisco, we even do this in Marketing sprints).
  • Most important: Transform from a culture of delivery to a culture of learning, where you are constantly tuning and improving based on end objectives and customer needs.

If you’re new to ideas of incorporating the customer-oriented design into MVP and Lean, I recommend Jeff’s book Lean UX.  And, as a bonus, there’s a great video overview he recently gave at Google on some of these topics.



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