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The Next-Gen Collaborator: Ready for a Mobile Workplace

Today, we’re featuring a guest post from Eric Schoch, senior director for hosted collaboration  in Cisco’s Collaboration organization. Eric is responsible for hosted and “as a service” solutions, strategic pricing and licensing, and business development.

There is simply no denying the increasing importance of being connected. Generation Y in particular, who grew up with mobile devices affixed almost permanently to their hands, views connectivity as one of life’s fundamental resources.

The newest addition to the workforce considers their mobile devices as an essential workplace tool to managing their workload and connecting with their colleagues on the go. While sitting in a meeting or having lunch in the break room, you can almost visualize the text bubbles hovering over crowds of this generation of workers as fingers hammer away at phones and tablets, eyes glued to the shiny screens in their hands. BYOD

But this trend goes far beyond lunch hours and happy hours. As proven by Chapter Two of the 2011 Cisco Connected World Technology Report, the next-generation workforce is demanding flexibility in their choice of devices in both the workplace and remote-work options, illustrating the importance of the Internet in workforce culture. Social media freedom, device flexibility, and work mobility, in the case of 30% of the study’s respondents, are more important when accepting a job than a higher salary.

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Do I Need New Tools to Collaborate?

Technology adoption comes in many flavors, speeds, and styles. And when it comes to new tools that make things we’ve always done better, many of us are often skeptical. But eventually, most of us get over that and the new technology takes hold. Otherwise, we’d still be chopping trees with axes instead of chainsaws, heating our coffee over an open flame, and wouldn’t even know what a Venti Half-Caf Skinny Soy Pumpkin Spice Latte was. (I’m not certain I do to this day…)

So when I tell you that there are all of these amazing tools and applications that improve and simplify collaboration within your organization, you may tell me that you can walk down the hall to talk to George as easily as you can IM him. Read More »

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Collaboration: The Cure for a Rollercoaster Economy

Today, we’re featuring a guest post from Rick Hutley, a vice president in Cisco’s global strategic consulting arm, IBSG. Rick advises business leaders in every industry about how technology—and more often than not, Intelligent Network technology—can help businesses achieve their goals.

As we embark on yet another economic rollercoaster, the goal of dramatically reducing costs while simultaneously growing revenues and market share seems impossible to attain. Yet, this is what businesses must do to survive.

In my opinion, the answer to this dichotomy is “collaboration”—enabling your workforce to be more effective at significantly lower costs. Collaboration can deliver significant benefits. Cisco®, for example, realized $1.4 billion in collaboration benefits in FY2010, up from $1.1 billion in FY2009. This was achieved across 27 initiatives at an annual cost of only $128 million.

These findings are detailed in a report titled “Economics of Collaboration at Cisco” by the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG), with analysis from its Research & Economics Practice. While every company is different, the following Cisco examples from this report offer a compelling business case for adopting similar initiatives where you work.

  • Business travel optimization to enable greater collaboration across regions while containing travel costs resulted in expense savings of $519 million per year and time savings of $140 million per year.
  • Telecommuting initiatives to increase productivity, tap global talent, and improve sustainability resulted in time savings of $320 million per year for Cisco and commute cost savings of $49 million per year for employees.
  • Connected Workplace, Cisco’s solution for optimizing knowledge worker productivity in the office, generated a 43 percent reduction in space per worker, real estate savings of $33 million per year, and energy savings of $2 million per year.
  • Next-generation Unified Communications resulted in salesforce time savings of $27 million per year and improved customer service.
  • Faster time-to-market capabilities with improved remote collaboration accelerated the introduction of Cisco’s ASR 9000, increasing margins by $90 million, reducing time to market from 4 to 3 years, and lowering R&D costs by $70 million.

To achieve these results, Cisco employed much of its own technology. Cisco TelePresence®, for example, powers a new way of working that allows us to be more productive through face-to-face, two-way video collaboration. Cisco WebEx® enables us to hold highly effective team meetings by sharing information whether we are using a desktop computer, laptop, or smartphone. Cisco Unified Communications links our phone, email, and other communications systems so we never have to miss a call or wait until a colleague gets back to his or her desk to respond to a critical email. And finally, Cisco QuadTM provides a single, integrated experience where individuals, teams, and communities connect, share, learn, and collaborate.

In today’s volatile economy, it’s clear we must learn how to collaborate better. Fortunately, technologies like those employed by Cisco can give your company an edge by improving competitiveness, innovation, and, most important, business results.

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If You Freelance, Here’s How to Collaborate Efficiently

Freelancing can be a great way to work. You don’t have to live by corporate edicts, you have the freedom to choose your work (well, at least you like to pretend you do – any freelancer knows you rarely turn down an assignment!) and you can work when and where you like.

Of course, there are challenges: getting work, keeping clients and figuring out how to collaborate in an efficient way. As any freelancer knows, time is money and driving to see clients can burn a good chunk of a day that could otherwise be used to get the work done!

Lorie Vela at Collaborationideas.com makes this observation:

Being a freelancer is already hard enough made even harder by adding new tasks and complicated operations when it comes to contacting, interacting and communicating with others. But the truth is that freelancers know better than anyone else what collaboration is all about, because being a freelancer means having to co-work with others, whether they are clients, customers, providers, etc, you always need to send files, emails, manage contacts, share, . Obviously, there’s a need to count on reliable tools and resources to work, but how about the planning and strategy to make it easier?

I’m surprised by how many freelancers collaborate in a very intuitive way, without even noticing they are doing so, they simply call it work. But knowing that you are “collaborating” could probably help you understand why sometimes things go wrong, why communication fails, why organizing tasks seems sometimes like an impossible issue to get resolved in time.

We want to help you collaborate effectively.

Using online meetings can save you tons of time. You don’t have to travel and you can meet with anyone who has a computer or internet device (think phone, iPad, etc.).You can use your webcam to make the meeting personal and share drafts, thumbnails, and more because online meetings let you show whatever is on your computer to your participants. And they can share too.

Maybe the best thing for freelancers is Read More »

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Collaboration: We Have the Technology

Collaboration has always been an important factor for successful businesses. Heck, it’s an important factor for successful relationships, conversations, parking-lot navigation. Wherever more than one person is involved in a process of any sort, collaboration is a must for that process to succeed.

Collaboration, plain and simple.

So (don’t tell my manager this…), it was initially a bit funny to me that we would have a “Collaboration architecture.”  I got the whole Data Center thing – a data center is and always has been a big ol’ box of technology. But to me, collaboration was always a human interaction, relationship, agreement to cooperate. Maybe it’s all of the organic vegetables and driving a hybrid that kept me resistant to considering collaboration as a technology architecture. Read More »

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