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“Seeing is Hearing” – Where Video Really Makes the Difference

I love hearing customers talk how they’ve conquered communications challenges using our technology. It’s exciting to be a key part of their journeys and successes. A recent conversation with such a customer affected me in a powerful and personal way that I haven’t stopped thinking about it.

It was late afternoon at a recent technology trade show. Booth traffic was lighter as attendees headed toward a reception to wrap up a long, information-packed day. I was mentally massaging my aching “trade-show” feet and thinking about a research-paper topic for the American Sign Language (ASL) class that my daughter and I are taking at our local community college. A customer strolled up to ask about our latest portfolio enhancements, and thus began our extraordinary conversation.

He shared how his organization comprises a group of companies that deliver network-based interpretation services for different types of clients. His team provides “in-person” ASL interpretation through a video-relay-service (VRS) using Cisco collaboration technologies.

The organization offers the service to registered deaf and hard of hearing clients across North America. It uses Cisco video conferencing solutions. Read More »

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Boost Your Video Sales with Cisco’s Summer Incentives

Ah, the dog days of summer. For me, growing up in VERY humid southern Georgia, it brings back memories of swimming pools, baseball games-and summer movies. I often loved to duck into a cool movie theater with my friends and see the latest Hollywood had to offer, like The Godfather and Young Frankenstein. There was something magical about the big screen.

These days the big screens in my world are video conferencing screens, but the magic isn’t lost. They are amazingly powerful pieces of technology that will play an increasingly significant role in the future of collaboration. It’s exciting to watch video take hold in the workplace and look at the possibilities as we wind up our year and prepare for FY16.

Video presents a huge business opportunity for us. Less than 10 percent of today’s corporate conference rooms are video-enabled; that number will jump to 50 percent by 2020, according to Aragon Research. We can be the ones to equip those rooms with video, which is a $10 billion prospect.

Barriers to video in the past have been high cost, user resistance, complicated equipment, and too many choices. But many of those barriers are disappearing as video becomes mainstream in companies, younger generations of workers enter the workplace, and equipment becomes slicker and easier to use (ex: Cisco DX70s and DX80s).  Read More »

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Event Recap: Cisco at the EEI Annual Convention

I had a great time recently at the EEI Annual Convention on June 7-10 in New Orleans, LA. EEI is the Edison Electric Institute, the industry association of the Investor Owned Utilities in the U.S. with international utility membership from all over the world. The Annual meeting is a unique event that includes the attendance and presentations by the CEOs of member utilities. The theme of this year’s conference was “Electricity Matters”, exploring the exciting changes happening all across the electric power industry.

The first day was full of excitement, with presentations from Ted Craver and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. Moniz shared his thoughts about the dramatically changing U.S. energy landscape, outlining the recommendations defined in the administration’s Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), particularly relating to grid modernization, resiliency, and infrastructure investment.

EEI Chairman Ted Craver led a thought-provoking discussion with Elon Musk, CEO and product architect of Tesla Motors, who was joined by Tesla Motors Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder JB Straubel. The three leaders discussed electric transportation, energy storage, and the role of technology and innovation for utilities and their customers. Other sessions on the first day included:

  • Approaches to Grid Security and Resiliency – panel moderated by PPL Corporation Chairman, President and CEO Bill Spence, discussing specific actions and approaches the electric sector is taking to improve grid security and resiliency.
  • The Role of the Utility in the Evolving Distribution Grid – Company leaders, regulators, and consumer advocates highlighted the role of the utility in four areas: planning, design and operation, infrastructure enhancement and customer education and protection.
  • Complying With the EPA Clean Power Plan – moderated by Gerry Anderson, Chairman and CEO of DTE Energy, the conversation centered on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan and highlighted how new and innovative technologies can quickly change a state’s strategy for complying with the new rules.

Read More »

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Small Business – Make it Big with Positive Customer Experience

Last week, I had an opportunity to attend an event for small and medium-sized businesses. It was an amazing experience. The business leaders there shared a passion for their solutions and a desire to take their companies to the next level and “make it big”. In a technology-enabled world, the features and functionalities of a product or service typically do not provide a sustainable competitive advantage. It’s certainly possible to grow a company if planned well. So why do only a few small businesses succeed in “making it big”?  What differentiates companies and how do certain small companies become large enterprises?

The answer lies in understanding the end-customer behavior of such businesses. Typically, small companies expand based on their initial customers, who become their “brand ambassadors”. This is especially true with social media. Typical buying behavior no longer depends only on a supplier’s marketing activity. It’s largely driven by word-of-mouth from happy or unhappy customers.

Total Customer Experience                                                                  

Customers engage your business at multiple touchpoints – far more than ever before. And in the end, the total customer experiences across those touchpoints makes them happy or unhappy (Figure 1).

Figure 1 – Connecting the customer journey

Figure 1 – Connecting the customer journey

The “Total Customer Experience” for a particular customer becomes Read More »

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In Search of a Good Popsicle Story

FullSizeRender copyMy grandmother, now eight years passed, used to tell the best stories about Vietnam. I remember one about my grandfather who wooed her with a popsicle on one of his early visits. In the incessant heat of a mid-1940s Hanoi summer, this was a feat of magnificent proportions.

But it would be rude to eat it in front of him, she thought. So she set the popsicle aside on a plate to save until after he leaves. When later she went to retrieve it, she would only find a small puddle and stick where her popsicle once was. Through tears, she chastised her siblings for coveting the gift from her beloved. Then someone explained the power of refrigeration to her, and that sealed the deal. She decided my grandfather was a man of the world and would make a suitable husband.

Ah, in the middle of Silicon Valley, there’s no greater love story than one aided by technology. So, I racked my brain to extract a good one for the amusement of my future grandchildren. Could the power of video collaboration be as heart wrenching as the power of refrigeration? Read More »

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