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The World Cup, Piano Movers, and IVR

As I write this, it’s World Cup time, reminding me of an old saying that in football (or soccer, as we Americans call it) there are two types of players: piano players and piano movers. Piano players perform magic with the ball. They score most of the goals … and get the big endorsement deals. Piano movers, on the other hand, toil in relative anonymity. They don’t win many style points, but they get the job done.

In some ways, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is a lot like being a piano mover. IVR is a mature, reliable, technology that’s often used to provide automated self-service to callers as a front-end to a contact center. IVR has minimal “wow” factor, and in fact it’s occasionally derided (typically due to bad application design). Yet more businesses are using it now than ever, because IVR is still one of the most cost effective ways to provide customer service.

People are often surprised when I tell them that Cisco is the world’s #1 IVR vendor--by a wide margin. Some of the world’s largest, most mission-critical IVR systems are built on Cisco. Moreover, Cisco was recently honored to receive a “Strong Positive” rating (the highest level) from Gartner in their annual IVR Marketscope report. In particular, Gartner noted Read More »

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Mud, Lightning and Collaboration

GlastonburyDespite having spent most of a weekend stood in mud, rain and thunderstorms at the Glastonbury festival, I’ve spent time since happily reflecting on some of the amazing collaboration between performers over the three days.  Aside from the various bands, whose members (presumably) work closely together all the time to perfect their sound, there were some fairly unlikely partnerships on display too.  Dolly Parton and Richie Sambora from Bon Jovi rocking to “Lay Your Hands on Me” for example. Or Ed Sheeran and Rudimental ripping it up in the middle of an electrical storm.

These combinations got me to thinking about how businesses with very different skill sets and competencies frequently come together to collaborate.  For small to midsized businesses the ability to collaborate effectively with partners, suppliers and customers is often critical to success.

Many organizations collaborate specifically to accelerate growth and innovation.  According to the Plante Moran 2013 Innovation Survey  of 4,225 business leaders,   94% of respondents felt that Innovation was important to sustainability and growth. And three quarters felt that collaborating would increase their chances of success with innovation, with the majority open to sharing financial risk and reward.

“Collaboration was considered a possible jumpstarter for innovation among three out of four of the respondents to the innovation survey.” Plante Moran 2013 Innovation Survey

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Cute Babies, Collaboration, and Competition

July 8, 2014 at 5:47 pm PST

I’m working on one of those magical cross-functional projects where we’re trying to combine multiple efforts into one result. Today, we have several tools created and managed by different groups of smart people with good intentions. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll call these tools wrenches. Not surprisingly, the wrenches have slightly different designs, definitions, purposes, and priorities. And they meet the parameters of the groups that created them. All good, right?

A challenge: The people who use the wrenches don’t always know which wrench to pick. It’s often a challenge to know which one to use or even that there’s a whole toolbox of them.

Remscheid - Werkzeugmuseum in 13 ies

In fact, some of the people who created wrenches weren’t aware of other wrenches so similar to theirs. Granted, it’s a big toolbox with a lot of drawers. And it’s not always easy to find stuff. Or people find a wrench that works, but would be even better with a slightly different angle along the thing-a-ma-jig. Ta da, yet another wrench!

A bright idea popped up: Let’s simplify things for the people who use wrenches. Let’s align information, share resources, build connections, and work together. Let’s build a wrench – or coordinated set of wrenches — that’s easier to find, use, and understand. So, someone dug through the toolbox and brought brought together all the toolmakers to collaborate. Read More »

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How Businesses Can Meet Next Generation Workforce Demands

Over the past 10 years, the consumption of technology has become more accessible than ever. The workspace has shifted from being heavily reliant on the fax machine to now allowing people to be in different parts of the world, yet flawlessly connected to their company’s network.

The result of these technological advancements – such as the growth of mobility, cloud and big data – is the evolution of the Next Generation Workforce, which has immense opportunities for businesses and interested candidates.

For example, considering that 74% of millennials want flexible work schedules, the Next Generation Workforce will seek remote collaboration more than ever before. Companies that will succeed at recruiting and retaining these candidates will be those that practice flexibility through the use of technology, while simultaneously showing employees that the work they are doing is both impactful and valuable.

Tailoring to the interests of these future candidates is an investment that companies must think about now – especially because by 2025, millennials will account for 75% of the global workforce. Employers who take new approaches to management, offering flexible benefits and providing effective employee retirement planning strategies will benefit from a three-generation workforce that is engaged, energized and experienced.

Midmarket Next Generation Workforce Blog Image

However, as the Next Generation Workforce evolves, there are certain challenges businesses must overcome to successfully excite and attract top talent. Here’s a closer look at those challenges – especially for those in the midmarket industries – and what they can do today to remain competitive and innovative in a rapidly changing landscape. Read More »

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My Cisco Live Debut

July 2, 2014 at 6:00 am PST

I joined Cisco five years ago as a contractor. And I’ve proudly been part of the Cisco on Cisco team for the past 2 years. This was my first Cisco Live and my first time delivering a Cisco on Cisco session at an event.   Read More »

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