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Summer’s Ending – But You Can Still Work Free From the Office

August 28, 2012 at 7:24 am PST

I always dread summer coming to an end.

Sure, it’s not like the old days when summer meant no school and running around free, but like most people, summer still makes me feel like I have more personal time and freedom. It must be the extra daylight.

Even if I can’t have the feeling of summer, it makes a huge difference to me if I can  work in different ways -- from home or even handling some to do items from the car.

One of the best things about the new, free version of WebEx, is that having a host account (yes, it’s free) means you can host a WebEx on your mobile. And that means I don’t have to be tethered to your computer.

Get your own free, basic WebEx account here.

In 2007, Cisco commissioned a study: Understanding and Managing the Mobile Workforce that looked at ways to really grasp how mobility was emerging. Of course, since then, “going mobile” has really become the norm.

In that study, they found:

Successful mobile workers tend to be resilient extroverts. They are open to new experiences and highly adaptable. And, contrary to the stereotype of the harassed and disoriented road warrior, they are supremely organized and independent-minded. With the right kind of tailored support, their productivity and adaptability make them superlative operators in an era of increasing demands and constant change.

In 2007, the Cisco study cited a prediction that “within two years, one quarter of the world’s working population will be mobile workers.” Not to freak anyone out but this was BEFORE Apple’s iPad was even released!

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Using Mobility to free you from the desktop – What we’ve learned about deploying Cisco Unified Mobility

Last week, I described what Cisco Unified Mobility is and what it does for me and the other thousands of employees at Cisco.  Today, let me tell you about the deployment process and what we learned.

Cisco IT Implementation

Cisco Unified Mobility requires our Cisco Unified Communications Managers to be on version 7.1 or above, and we started deploying the service soon after we’d upgraded to 7.1.  We deployed Cisco Unified Mobility in each of our 13 Cisco Unified Communications Manager clusters, rolling out the service on a site-by-site basis. This gradual transition process helped to smooth the impact of supporting users and the potential for spikes in outbound calls as employees began working with the SNR feature.  At first, we worried that a large number of calls going out to mobile phones from Cisco sites might overwhelm smaller outbound trunks, but so far we haven’t seen any problems there.  Also, our gradual site-based rollout made it easy to avoid countries that do not allow outbound calling from our private VoIP network to the PSTN (primarily in the Middle East, and in India).

One implementation decision may be a surprise:

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Using Mobility to free you from the desktop – What we’ve gained by deploying Cisco Unified Mobility

A lot of our employees, especially salespeople, seem to work everywhere except at their desks. Reaching them used to mean making multiple calls to multiple numbers, and leaving messages at each one.  And waiting for an important phone call sometimes meant that you were tied to your desk until it came through.

Now, with Single Number Reach (SNR) — a feature of Cisco Unified Mobility —  I can receive business calls wherever I want to  be reached at the moment­--at my desk, at home, or on my mobile phone. And if I can’t answer, Cisco Unified Mobility gets all my messages sent to a single voicemail box.  There’s also a Mobility feature that lets me transfer calls from my office phone to my mobile phone, and back again – without anyone on the other end knowing I’ve changed phones.   This helps when I pick up an important call at my desk, but need to take care of something that takes me away from the desk phone.  Sometimes I’ve got to get in the car and can use my Bluetooth headset to finish the conversation.

My current SNR profile is configured to route calls to my mobile inside of normal working hours, and then to push them to voicemail on weekends.  I even have an access control list (ACL) to allow my manager’s calls to pass through to the mobile number at any day/hour.  He does respect normal work hours but we do know emergencies happen from time to time and it is important to be accessible.

All of these Cisco Unified Mobility features were made available to 80,000 phones in our company, by activating them on in our eighteen production Unified Communications server clusters around the world. The truly impressive thing about the Cisco Unified Mobility service is that it can scale to companies of any size.  The benefits to the individual user apply no matter if you are an 8 or 80,000 person company.  Mobility benefits the individual most.

From our deployment activity, we learned valuable lessons for our customers about implementation decisions, feature adoption by users, and the resulting business benefits.

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