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Music, Mardi Gras, and News: Just Another Day at Partner Summit

So much happened on Tuesday at Cisco Partner Summit: musical performances, artist Frency painting in the moment on stage, as well as keynotes from SVP Keith Goodwin, Cisco CEO John Chambers, SVP Edison Peres, and the new Cisco COO Gary Moore. We also heard big announcements around cloud and collaborative professional services.

We had some other exciting things happening on Tuesday, so watch our short Partner Update newscast for the day’s highlights.

Did you miss any of the sessions from Tuesday? Don’t worry, you can still watch them…
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In Collaboration, What’s the Next Great Debate?

It seems like every five years a major shift takes place and is debated at the collaboration industry’s premier conference:  VoiceCon. Now called Enterprise Connect, this year’s conference got underway yesterday in Orlando, FL.

In 2001, the great debate was around the convergence of voice and data, as industry leaders took sides over whether the IP-PBX ready was ready for prime time.

In 2006, the buzz was around the topic of Unified Communications, where a single platform emerged to deliver voice, messaging, and basic video.

This year, I predict a great debate over the question, “What does collaboration look like in what Ray Ozzie termed ‘the post-PC world?’”

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Cisco Quad in Action

In November 2010, Cisco introduced its own software-based enterprise collaboration platform: Cisco Quad. Underlying this platform at Cisco is the development of a transformed way of working that Cisco calls the Integrated Workforce Experience, or IWE. IWE powered by Cisco Quad extends the power of collaboration to employees by combining a foundation of video and unified communications with personalization and relevancy features, applications, and services on the network and integrating them with business and content management systems.

Integral to the IWE environment are collaborative communities created around job and organizational functions, roles, and topics of interest. Members of a community collaborate to achieve their goals, organize and access informational assets and transactional tools, and promote their interests.

Early adopters of IWE span multiple organizations across Cisco including Cisco’s Central Development Organization, Customer Value Chain Organization, and Finance teams to name a few. All these organizations who span multiple geographies and time zones, are already benefiting from an IWE environment that enhances their virtual collaboration and improves productivity; provide quick, convenient access to technical experts and knowledge sharing companywide; and inspires new ways of conducting the product development process.

The following case studies describe the business benefits that internal Cisco functions are reaping from their early implementations of IWE.

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Collaboration – How to do it? PART 1 – Technology

We’ve covered in my previous blogs the definition of collaboration and the benefits and reasons to do it.  Now we have come to the really difficult part — how to do it.

“Effective collaboration” requires a major focus on culture, the deployment and use of technology, and the adoption of process and governance.  Having the technology but not using it effectively could lead to a lot of bad meetings.  Having process and technology but not having a culture that embraces and promotes collaboration could lead to bad collaboration (I already told you this is worse than no collaboration).

Even with all the hoopla on this topic, there are few companies focusing on all three success factors (technology, process and culture) and thus failing to realize the full potential of collaboration. I’ll address each of these in separate blogs, starting with technology.

Before we get too far, there are a few things to consider.  First, collaboration is not a new topic and has been around since the beginning of time.  Cavemen collaborated while hunting.  Parents collaborate with each other in PTA meetings.  We collaborate in business to provide increased value to our customers and shareholders.  The point being that most of us know how to collaborate effectively …as long as it’s FACE TO FACE.

Technology is changing the way we collaborate.  We no longer need to be in the same place at the same time to achieve great results.  Common citizens in the Middle East are using social media to challenge governments.  Daily, thousands of Cisco employees leverage high def video to collaborate. And millions of people collaborate via web meetings; wikis, blogs, user generated videos and discussion forums.

The change is dramatic and happening at lightning speed. Most of this collaboration is virtual versus face to face (in person).  This is very important to emphasize because success will require us to use new tools to effectively collaborate.

New world, new rules, new tools!

Here are my tips on how to get going at your company:

  1. Experiment – Many large enterprises have very strict processes and guidelines on the adoption of new company-wide technology deployments.  I suggest adopting an approach of experimentation.  Without experimentation you may miss a game changing technology.
  2. Start Small – Engage in three to four small technology deployments and see what works.
  3. Measure / Learn – At the onset of these experiments make sure you figure out a way to capture and measure the impact of these technologies.  The data/results are key in gaining support from the executive team.
  4. Executive Sponsor – Find an executive sponsor who is interested in technology or can gain the most from it.  Keep them informed on a regular basis.
  5. Expect Failure – Not everything will work.  Keep documentation on what failed and why.
  6. Trust – This is one of the key things to understand. Nothing replaces face-to-face meetings.  The key human characteristic that enables or hinders collaboration is trust.  Technologies like high definition video will have a significant impact on trust since facial expressions and body language are recognized.  That makes HD video a valuable tool if the teams have never met or if their personal relationships are limited.  Inversely, audio conferencing has very little impact on building trust. Use the right tool for the job!
  7. Inside/Outside Company – To maximize the potential of any collaboration effort, consider how to get people outside your company to participate.  Consider suppliers,  partners and customers as potential participants and contributors.  Some great things may happen!

Technology is changing everything and requires us to experiment with what’s available. You can’t leverage something unless you try, measure and learn from it.  As always, I welcome your comments and wish you well on your own collaboration journey!  I’d like to hear from you on Twitter.


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Cisco Wins Four Apex Awards at Digital Signage Expo 2011

Last week, Cisco Digital Media Systems (DMS) wrapped up another year at the world’s largest international trade show and conference dedicated to digital signage – the Digital Signage Expo 2011, held in Las Vegas. This year’s event came at an exciting time, just as Cisco was able to announce its 3000-customer milestone in digital signage and our market leadership in this bourgeoning industry after just four short years since joining the market in 2007.

For more insight from the show floor at DSE 2011, check out this video with DMS general manager Janice Litvinoff, outlining key highlights from the event and the unique digital signage applications on display this year at the Cisco booth.

In addition, we were thrilled to receive four Apex Awards, handed out by the Digital Signage Federation. Bringing in the gold award was …

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