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Do I Really Have to Share?

April 4, 2014 at 2:45 pm PST

Sharing is a life skill that most of us learn as young children. It typically begins when siblings are introduced into the household, at play dates, or at school. You learn how to share your mother’s time, your toys, your books, and countless other things. It may have seemed painful at first, but it was something you had to learn in order to make friends and play cooperatively.

Fast forward to a few years later, you find that that sharing is easy. It’s a daily occurrence. For those who are active on social media, sharing is essential. Some share words of wisdom and information about their companies or the products they sell. Others share what they had for dinner, personal viewpoints, news and everything in between. They also share interesting content posted by their friends, colleagues, celebrities and bloggers. This type of sharing helps us build relationships online and keeps us connected. It also helps us learn from those around us.

One of the things I enjoy about working at Cisco is that I get to share what I’ve learned with others. It’s rewarding to Read More »

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How Cisco is Keeping You in The Game

March 31, 2014 at 8:14 am PST

Every year millions of hours of work are lost to the NCAA basketball tournament – from checking brackets and streaming games at work to people taking time off to catch their choice game. For many, travelling to watch their team’s games could mean even more hours lost –but not anymore. 

Two weeks ago I flew out a few days early to Saint Louis, Missouri to cheer on the Stanford Men’s Basketball team in the first and second round of the tournament. My flight from San Jose had Wi-Fi, which allowed me to work for the majority of the time in the air. I wasn’t the only one either:  Read More »

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Pure Madness, That’s A Connected Fan

2014 Bracket

I love this image – Cisco’s take on a bracket, like the ones so many of us filled out recently. It taps into the fact that the appetite of sports fans is almost insatiable with the buffet of content available to them, and that a network is their ticket to eat. Consider the fact that March Madness Live, the NCAA’s live stream of the men’s basketball tournament, saw record 51 million live streams through the first weekend, more than entire 2013 tournament. In addition, the social component of sports continues to explode. Over the first weekend, the five most tweeted about games generated more than 1.5 million tweets. And brand engagement continues to grow on social with sports fans as well, with seven out of ten fans being willing to take action with a brand beyond just a “like.”

This isn’t a shock to Cisco. We have seen the rapidly escalating desire of teams, venues and leagues to deliver reliable connectivity, live video, and afford their fans the ability to share their experiences on social media. It’s why we have installed our solutions in more than 200 venues in 30 plus countries globally. Today, this trend continues as the Danish national stadium PARKEN, in Copenhagen, announced it will be installing Cisco Connected Sports solutions – Connected Stadium Wi-Fi, StadiumVision and StadiumVision Mobile, an unparalleled suite of technology and business drivers for the stadium. This comes on the heels of the announcement just a couple months ago that another Nordic entity in Olso, the Norwegian Professional Football League, will be using Cisco to deliver Wi-Fi and mobile video in ALL of their venues in the near future.

When you are watching basketball this weekend or next, remember the image above and note that Cisco’s goal is to connect the unconnected fans everywhere – like only we can. It is something we are doing at the Honda Center, where games are being played this weekend, at AT&T Stadium, where the Final Four and NCAA Championship game will be held, and around the world at venues that host some of the biggest clubs and most prestigious events. From Copenhagen to Cowboys Stadium, from Oslo to Orange County, California….Cisco is putting millions of fans at the center of the action.

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Communities: Should You Build One?

March 25, 2014 at 2:39 pm PST

When an online community comes to mind, most think in terms of engagement, conversations, culture and feedback.  And if you continue to think about it, more ideas come to mind, like: how can I be heard, how far reaching is the content, how does this affect my job or company?

But is there more to it? Why should a community be created?  What are the benefits?

Why Create a Community?

zuck quoteSimilar to a consumer’s behavior of doing online research of a product prior to purchase, business buyers look toward communities and their members to get a quick overview of product information, customer satisfaction and company engagement with their customers.  They are looking to find out if the company is going to support their organization long-term in the manner they want, based on how well they’ve met other customers’ needs.

But communities provide more than research to a potential buyer, they can:

  • build your brand and widen your reach,
  • be an integral part of the marketing mix,
  • attract the right customers,
  • lower acquisition costs,
  • provide a sense of belonging to the visitors,
  • provide support in an efficient and scalable manner,
  • provide exploration and feedback (both positive and negative) for new ideas and suggestions for product improvement.
  • and much more

The value of an online discussion about the merits of a product and/or any flaws is invaluable to a company.

I visit communities quite a bit looking for feedback for any product or service I may be thinking of buying.  To research vacations, my wife and I seek information about places to stay, tours to take, restaurants to visit…  As I  read through the many comments, those comments from previous customers are invaluable and often raise questions or spark ideas I hadn’t even thought of, and can change my mind about the product or vendor to buy from.

Key Questions Before Starting a Community community word cloud

Success of a community requires a well thought out plan, hard work, robust content and an ongoing long-term dedication to your members.   Each micro-community can have a different goal or purpose, but before starting any community, be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • Do my community goals align with my corporate priorities?
  • Who is my target audience and is it large enough to consume and generate content and activity?
  • Am I able to deliver something of enough value to the audience I seek to attract and engage with?
  • Does my team understand the endurance necessary to run a successful community?
  • Is my team resourced to work and collaborate with members, not just at launch but over the course of months and years to come?
  • Is it possible to sustain the community over the long haul?
  • Do I have a strong content pipeline for the next 90 days?
  • Have I identified KPIs that align to my company’s business goals?

Communities at Cisco Cisco community screenshot

The online communities at Cisco drive awareness and conversation among prospects, customers and partners on Cisco business and technology topics.  They enable customers and partners to solve issues collaboratively and proactively. And they give Cisco colleagues insight into the markets in which we sell, work, live, and serve — so we can do so better.

Top Communities at Cisco:

Cisco hosts a wide range of customer and partner communities that can meet almost any need and interest.  If you’re already a member, thank you! If you’re not yet a member, please join us in conversation and collaboration.  Here are some recommendations:

  • Collaboration/ Data Center /Enterprise Networks/ Security – IT professionals engage with peers and industry experts to discuss trends, IT strategy, product capabilities + more; allows peers to share strategy, solves problems and connects people whom otherwise wouldn’t have connected; average 26K visitors per month per community; 1.5K contributions per month.
  • Support – enables customers and partners to solve issues collaboratively; solves support issues/questions in a cost effective, scalable manner; quadrupled in size over last 18 months; 1.5M unique visitors per month; 7K contributions per week.
  • Cisco Learning Network – provides learning tools, training resources and industry guidance; allows anyone interested in learning about networks to participate, bringing learning to all rather than the few; open to anyone.
  • Cisco “DevNet” Developer Network Community – engages and enables developers and partners to create Cisco integrated solutions; professionals from different companies can truly collaborate on a solution that otherwise wouldn’t have met.
  • Partner  – (private community) partners can interact directly with their partner peers, get the latest news, product and program updates; solves technical issues and allows collaboration in real-time as needed.

If your company has one or is considering one, what is the goal of your community?  Is it being met?

Are you engaged in one or more of the Cisco communities?  (If not, why not?)  What others should we be building? How can we best meet your needs and interests through our current communities, or fill a gap?

 

Vision Alignment in the Digital Age

As organizations mature, often they become silo’d into groups with similar charters but without a process to align their efforts. As a member of a team that is responsible for the overall strategy for of the company’s digital experience, this lack of alignment can cause inefficient resource allocation or worse yet, competing technology platforms. With speed of innovation in the digital space accelerating daily, the risk of misalignment increases exponentially.

In an effort to insure alignment across our organization, we recently led a cross organizational workshop to define and document our vision for what the digital presence of Cisco should become in the year 2017. We brought together over 45wordcloud subject matter experts, from over a dozen teams for a day and a half of interactive design thinking exercises. The exercises focused not on our internal processes, but on how our customers interact with our digital properties. The beauty of design thinking is that it breaks down personal bias in a team and focuses fanatically on the customer experience. By doing this, key themes were defined and agreed to across the teams.

We have all heard these key themes:

  • content is king
  • use of data to increase value to the customer
  • agility over complexity

We all had similar challenges and understood the need to align. Seems easy enough, right?In an organization as large as Cisco, collaboration is critical. In order to drive that collaboration and alignment across the many digital teams, we formed a structure that provided a forum for alignment while keeping governance over the vision that was defined.

We do this through:

  • commitment at the executive level
  • driving agreement of the vision thru a cross-functional steering committee
  • execution is driven through working groups aligned to specific aligned initiatives (such as analytics or partner experience)

The working groups (driving execution) are led by the organization closest to the effort, yet each has representation across several groups to insure alignment across all digital efforts. Each working group is then responsible to report progress to the executive level committees. We continue to build out and refine these processes as needed.

As the working groups have come back with their plans we have noticed the success of this effort was understalign2anding that alignment is not the key issue, all the groups have similar requirements, expectations, KPI’s for success.

The true issue is a forum through which to drive the discussion in an agile fashion to align our digital vision. The expectation of failing fast and failing forward, understanding that the most exciting thing about the digital space is the pace of change and innovation. The journey is more rewarding than the destination, as the destination is always changing.

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