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The Importance of Taking an Integrated Architectural Approach to Your Collaboration Deployment

Collaboration is all about enabling diverse and distributed team members, both inside and outside your organization to effectively communicate, share information, and work toward a common goal. The benefits of collaboration show up as:

  • Productivity gains
  • Better and faster decision making
  • Improved communication and teamwork
  • The ability for remote and virtual team members to take part meaningfully

Before investing in new collaboration technology, it pays to take a moment and define your goals: What do you want collaboration to deliver, and to whom?

I’m not talking about departmental or point-to-point focused  goals that will address only an immediate need (like deploying video endpoints to several offices to enable better team interaction for a particular group, say an engineering team). I am talking about looking beyond that.

What benefits do want your organization as a whole to derive from collaboration? Read More »

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Remember, It’s Just a Meeting

Driving the discussion of collaboration.

Today, the federal government is still heavily involved in placing people on an airplane and flying key decision makers across the world to meet in person. While face-to-face interactions are important, long-term productivity requires the flexibility and capabilities to facilitate immediate, impromptu meetings without technological restrictions. The fact is, being tethered to a desk or having to rely on transportation and conflicting time zones significantly impact communications. Further, amid shrinking budgets and fewer resources, agencies are also being asked to do more with less.

Collaboration technologies break down those boundaries, bringing the right resources to the right meeting at the right time. The value of these tools for government agencies can, at times, be stunted by the tendency to place them into silos. We must move beyond the siloed thinking of video to video, voice to voice and web-conferencing to web-conferencing to embrace a more integrated approach. In the end, the goal of every meeting is to connect people and share information. Collaboration technologies can help agencies meet this objective while lowering costs and increasing efficiency.

Collaboration: Taking a Unified Approach

The value of collaboration is seen when you move beyond the traditional tether of your desk. Collaborative environments are expanding as federal agencies no longer operate in silos. Federal agencies are complex, highly strategic environments where decision makers need to work together to improve citizen services and national security. Many programs are tapping subject matter experts (SMEs) to leverage the best talent for their technical missions—reaching across regions, silos, environments, and in multiple time zones.

By taking a unified approach with technologies, agencies are improving information sharing within and between individual departments and entire federal agencies.

Virtual training provides significant value to both trainers and trainees. A recent Govloop survey members found that 90 percent of respondents attended a virtual training in 2014. This Virtual Training Playbook outlines the benefits of hybrid training environments and offers a roadmap for arranging effective and engaging online trainings.

  • Many federal agencies have offices spread throughout the country and around the world. Cohorts from multiple locations, multiple entities, and multiple sites are using various collaboration solutions to connect interagency.
  • Key decision makers are also connecting across multiple disciplines. For instance, government agencies can connect to business leaders with niche skillsets that can help agencies accomplish their objectives. Think of it as bringing together some of the top minds in several relevant designated fields to collaborate on better solutions.
  • Managers can more effectively interacting with teleworkers face-to-face, improving relations with those employees and lessening the resistance to telework environments.
  • Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, collaboration solutions are being used to support citizen engagement and improve communication between agencies and the public. This is also helping provide new perspectives on the delivery of various government agency services.

Cisco offers a unified collaboration toolkit that provides customers with flexible solutions to meet end users’ needs regardless of the circumstance. To improve efficiency, agencies should identify the various stakeholders they communicate with and the collaboration tools that are best suited to interact with each of those groups. This enables agencies to adopt a unified approach to collaboration and build customized hybrid meeting environments. Furthermore, collaboration is helping push agencies to modernize their IT systems with architectures that serve the needs of today and help build a foundation to support the growing needs of tomorrow.

Government organizations are using collaboration solutions to enhance information sharing, boost employee productivity and increase citizen satisfaction while reducing costs and driving greater efficiencies. It’s important to remember that it’s just a meeting, and you should have access to the resources your team needs—no matter the form of collaboration—for successful business and mission outcomes.

To learn more about Cisco’s government collaboration solutions, visit

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Oil and the Smart Pipe – Article on The Network, Cisco, by Scott Gurvey

Scott Gurvey (the famous New York bureau chief and senior correspondent of the PBS broadcast Nightly Business Report for more than 20 years) has written a thought-provoking piece on “The Network” (Cisco’s Technology News Site).

Safety is the key in the Oil and Gas industry. Whether it’s people, infrastructure, or the environment, the industry is grappling with sometimes controversial issues.

Scott talks about the Keystone XL Oil Pipeline, new technology and the relative safety of different oil transport methods. He quotes James Stafford, the editor of, as saying that even though moving oil through pipelines is generally considered safer than the alternatives of rail or truck transport, the number of pipeline accidents reported each year remains “unacceptable”

That’s where the new technologies of the Internet of Things comes in. The Operational Technologies (OT) requirements have been different to the IT needs in the past. In my view that’s because of several reasons. The different technologies used for each area gave rise to concern that folks have had about security between networks is one.

Read the latest Thought Leadership for Oil and Gas

Read the latest Thought Leadership for Oil and Gas

Another is that there was also a lack of visibility, and it was difficult for parts of an organization to collaborate with another to sense problems in real time and deliver the right resources to solve them. That’s changing as IT and OT converge. Probably not fast enough for most people’s liking, but that’s owing to the cultural changes needed.

Back to Scott’s article. I’m not going to steal his thunder on ‘Pigs’ (well, Smart Pigs, but still not the kind in your hot dog!), drones (the peaceful kind), or the Analytics challenge the industry faces today. You’ll have to read his article for that.

But I do want to give a plug for the recent thought leadership in the oil industry that Cisco recently conducted (A New Reality for Oil & Gas: Complex Market Dynamics Create Urgent Need for Digital Transformation), which I was proud to contribute to. In it the analytics issue comes to the forefront and IT/OT convergence and Collaboration are seen as essential catalysts for change, with an overarching emphasis on ensuring end-to-end cybersecurity. Read it to see the details. Some might surprise you.

As always, you can learn more about Cisco in Oil and gas here:, and read the latest Secure Industrial Networks with Cisco White Paper (don’t worry, it’s only 3 pages!), by clicking on this link: Secure Industrial Networks with Cisco.

And I almost forgot – if you’re interested in Cisco’s relevance to oil pipelines and that part of the industry, here’s something to whet your appetite: Cisco Connected Pipelines At-a-Glance.

Happy reading! And remember, stay safe out there!

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Cisco Partner Weekly Rewind – April 24, 2015

Partner-Weekly-Rewind-v2Each week, we’ll highlight the most important Cisco Partner Ecosystem news and stories, as well as point you to important, Cisco-related partner content you may have missed along the way. Here’s what you might have missed this week:

Off the Top

Well it’s here! It’s time! Early tomorrow morning I will board a plan and head to Montreal, Canada for Cisco Marketing Velocity 2015 and Cisco Partner Summit 2015. I’ve spent the last few weeks making sure you’re ready for these two huge events by asking things like, “Are You Ready for Cisco Marketing Velocity and Partner Summit?”. I have also introduced you to the Cisco Social Ambassadors for the two events.

I’ve walked you through Cisco Virtual Partner Summit (VPS) for those of you that won’t be onsite in Montreal. VPS is the perfect way to keep up with what’s going on throughout the week, even if you are not physically there.

This week I gave you one last checklist to make sure you’re prepared to hit the ground running with Cisco Marketing Velocity and Cisco Partner Summit, whether you’re actually in Canada, or participating via VPS. Also, just in case you didn’t see it last Friday, Bruce Klein and Canadian counterpart David De Abreu joined a podcast to provide a preview of Cisco Partner Summit 2015.

As you can imagine, next week is going to be a busy one on the Cisco Partner Blog. For that reason, we will not have a Cisco Partner Weekly Rewind blog on May 1. The Weekly Rewind will return on May 8 to wrap up all of our coverage of Marketing Velocity and Partner Summit.

I think you’re ready. I know I’m ready to get to Montreal and get this show on the road. See you in Canada! Read More »

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How and Where Will You Work in the Future?

My previous blog post considered enterprise agility and our individual responsibility to take some level of ownership by being more present and connected. This week at UC Expo in London I met many industry colleagues, and it sparked off some interesting conversations.

Two themes emerged that made me think about what work might look like in ten years time:

1) Balancing artisan creativity with the art of making money

We agreed that the mass-market appeal and adoption of some technologies and devices have lead to quite bland output by some teams. We have, to some degree, lost the ability to be creative at scale. The pressure of time and money and the corporate iteration process often distil the essence of something beautiful down into something quite vanilla – generic tools often force us down the road to blandness.

Thankfully, some emerging approaches and technology are starting to Read More »

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