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IoE Innovation Hinges on Hyper Collaboration

Once upon a time, the world’s greatest inventions always seemed to come from individual geniuses locked in a room day and night on their own.  We often think of Alexander Graham Bell inventing the telephone by himself, Thomas Edison inventing the light bulb solo or Johannes Gutenberg working mostly alone to develop a mold that led to the first printing press.

Alex G Blog Pic 1Solo inventors will always play pivotal roles in developing “the next big thing” even as we we’re half way through the second decade of the 21st century.  Think Mark Zuckerberg masterminding Facebook  on his own in his dorm room at Harvard.

More and more, however, we’re discovering that in today’s Internet of Everything world, where complex technologies increasingly connect and converge, innovation hinges on all types of hyper collaborations.  Today, innovation requires open interaction among businesses, universities, startups, incubators, developers and others.  Now, collaboration makes innovation happen! Read More »

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Cisco Receives Frost & Sullivan’s Market Leadership Award for IP Endpoint Communications

John Chambers has often commented publicly about how Cisco’s innovation engine is on “fire.” Within Cisco’s Collaboration and Endpoint Technology Group (CETG), we certainly feel that way.

I just got word that independent industry analyst firm Frost & Sullivan has awarded Cisco its 2015 Market Leadership Award for IP Endpoint Communications. The award encompasses our desktop IP phones and DX Series, and our Cisco Jabber soft-client offerings. Coming on the heels of Red Dot design awards we received for our room systems, it’s another validation of our progress.

Frost & Sullivan recognized us for our relentless pursuit of technology excellence, and for our ability to maintain leadership positions in a fast-paced, rapidly evolving market.

I thought it would be worthwhile to share some comments from Frost & Sullivan to add insight.

Highlights noted in the report include: Read More »

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Inbound Marketing: What Comes After the Tipping Point?

“Inbound marketing is more effective than outbound marketing.”  

Sound like a quote from a recent marketing article? It’s actually a key takeaway from my doctoral thesis, published back in 2008 and entitled, “How Companies Use Customer Insight to Drive Customer Acquisition, Development, and Retention.”

No, I’m not Nostradamus, nor do I have a crystal ball. But, for a long time, I have been watching the signs that B2B buyers’ needs and patterns are changing.

Today, buyers – not sellers – are firmly in the driver’s seat. In fact, according to a recent DemandGen Buyer Behaviour report, almost half of buyers create a short-list of potential vendors and a third conduct initial research on solution options before the first communication with a sales rep. (For more on the evolution of buyer behaviour, see my blog post: Smarketing: A Sales and Marketing Love Story)

How are buyers conducting this research? Through search engines, vendor websites, and social media sites.

Hence the tipping point for inbound marketing. But what comes next? Here’s how I see the marketing landscape changing over the next 12 – 18 months:

1. Social media will gain traction in new ways

Social media is playing an increased role in marketing and buyers are now connecting to sellers via social channels rather than just browsing. DemandGen reports that 72% of respondents said they used social media to research the solution purchase.

This total is unchanged since 2013. What HAS changed is that there is a 57% increase in buyers connecting directly with potential solution providers via social networking channels. So they’re no longer just browsing social channels to do research, they’re using social channels to connect directly with sellers.

2. Marketers will adjust their budgets accordingly 

In reaction to buyer behaviour, marketers will continue to adjust their spend on inbound marketing. Sirius Decisions predicted back in 2013 that there would be a slight increase from 51% to 53% spent on inbound marketing by 2015. But what’s really interesting is the portion spent on social media: a big bump up from 36% to 44%.

3. Traditional sales and marketing roles will be turned on their heads   

We used to say, “Marketing opens the door and sales charges through it to close the deal.” Today, social media is driving role reversals within sales and marketing functions.

Increasingly, marketers are learning more about customers through their digital footprint and social media usage. We’re using real-time, behavioural data and analytics to complete a 360 view of the customer. And we’re leveraging this deep customer insight to close deals – because we’re able to make the right offer through the right channel at the right time.

Conversely, salespeople are now using social selling techniques to open doors with clients and prospects. They’re using social channels to connect, start conversations, and share knowledge and content. These nurturing techniques are paying off. According to a recent Social Media and Sales Quota Survey, more than 40% of salespeople say they have closed between two and five deals as a result of social media.

4. Revenue Marketing will become Profit Marketing  

Using Revenue Marketing principles, sales and marketing have begun to ensure that marketing strategies align with sales and business objectives to generate a measurable return to the bottom line.

But that’s just step one. As marketing shifts from a cost centre to a revenue centre, there is a deeper realization of the fact that not all customers are created equal. Inbound marketing tends to generate more new customer logos than outbound marketing. Based on lifetime customer value, new customers could be more desirable to a company which could translate into more importance placed on inbound techniques.

5. Employee advocacy will fuel marketing  

Although traditional advertising techniques (like TV advertising) are on the decline, social media makes it possible for employees to be a company’s best brand champions. Employee advocacy programs empower a company’s employees to support the goals of the brand using content and employee-owned social channels. This approach can have a huge impact on marketing and sales. According to Dynamic Signal, a digital marketing company, “Your employees are already on social all the time. And since people trust their social connections more than marketing messages, you can increase brand awareness by 14x and sales leads by 25%.” (Stay tuned for more on this topic in an upcoming blog post).

When will these 5 trends reach their tipping points? Last time my crystal ball looked 7 years ahead so let’s set it at 5 years this time – 2020! Watch this space….

Are you seeing sales and marketing changes in your markets and geographies? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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Business Quality Video Conferencing…It’s Magic, Even for the Scobleizer

A couple of weeks ago, we had the unique opportunity to support Tech on Deck with Robert Scoble and Scott Jordan. This first-time event was a big success. Remote viewers could actively engage with the hosts and guests, who ranged from Guy Kawasaki to Hap Klopp. The guests joined Robert and Scott using Jabber Guest from as far away as Israel. The discussions were fantastic.

Cisco’s own collaboration SVP Rowan Trollope also joined them from the comfort of his home via a Cisco MX200 G2 endpoint. Robert and Scott were shocked with the quality of the call – especially because it was living-room to living-room.  The quality of the video conferencing coming in over Jabber Guest was also good, but the experience delivered by a purpose-built video endpoint is still unrivaled.

As a marketer for video conferencing, this is the kind of excitement I wish I could bottle up and give to everyone. During a short interview with Robert (recently named #5 in Inc.’s Tech Power Players), we asked him how he uses video in his day-to-day work, about video quality, and the impact video can have in our lives – and how it can be better.


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Accelerate Private and Public Clouds

The pace of business is accelerating.  As consumers, the internet has changed our expectations for how to order products, services or information as well as how fast it is delivered.  Think about it.   We access a web page, order what we want and complete the transaction.  In some cases, our orders are delivered within hours.

The process is not so simple in the business world.

You have a new project and you want to get started right away.  After weeks of meetings, IT has identified that they have the resources but it will take six to eight weeks for them to make them available.  How would you respond?

This is not an imaginary scenario.  As the world becomes digitized, businesses need to respond with speed and agility to keep pace.  Your employees expect the same level of service delivery and on-line shopping experience that they have as consumers.   These changes are creating the need to transform traditional models to new, cloud-based models that produce the speed, agility and on-line consumer experience your employees anticipate.

Private cloud is being deployed as a means to meet these new service and delivery expectations.  Private cloud delivers speed not just to your data center but across all layers of your organization.  It allows your business to be more productive, efficient and profitable.  The foundation to private cloud is infrastructure and infrastructure does matter.

The combination of Cisco ONE Enterprise Cloud Suite and VCE Vblock™ Systems deliver a pre-validated private cloud solution with all the essential automation tools and an infrastructure stack designed to accelerate the deployment of a hybrid-ready private cloud.  Watch this video to learn more.

Cisco ONE Enterprise Cloud Suite delivers out-of-box infrastructure automation that spans compute, network, storage and virtualization.  The self-service portal allows employees to order on demand data center, applications or business services that include your best practices and compliance policies. The built-in stack designer allows architects to combine application profiles and infrastructure templates to create applications as a service.  Built-in hybrid capability delivers the same levels of security, control and management to public providers that is available in your private cloud.

Vblock™ Systems from VCE represent the next evolution of IT – one that unleashes simplicity by delivering efficiency and business agility of private cloud environments.  Integration of best-in-class compute, network, and storage technologies from Cisco, EMC, and VMware deliver resources that can be provisioned and managed quickly to meet the changing demands of today’s business.   Pre-integrated, tested and validated, the combination of VCE Vblock™ Systems and Cisco ONE Enterprise Cloud Suite simplify and accelerate hybrid ready private clouds.

As the pace of business accelerates, you need to be able to respond quickly to changing business needs and business opportunities.  Cisco ONE Enterprise Cloud Suite and VCE Vblock™ Systems deliver a pre-validated hybrid ready private cloud that lets IT better align with business needs as well as deliver new products to your customers faster.

To learn more about Cisco ONE Enterprise Cloud Suite, go to:  www.cisco.com/go/cloudsuite.

To learn more about VCE Vblock™ Systems, go to:  www.vce.com

To learn more about Cisco’s other management solutions go to:   www.cisco.com/go/um

 

 

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