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What Really Matters in Collaboration

On the eve of Microsoft’s first Lync User Conference, I think it’s a great time to start a frank and direct conversation about what’s changed in collaboration and, because of those changes, what’s really important for IT decision makers to consider as they evaluate collaboration vendors and solutions. This conversation, which I’m confident will spark a lively and healthy debate, will last for weeks and will include input from a variety of Cisco Collaboration leaders.

So, to start, what has changed in collaboration? At the macro level, I would argue that collaboration has evolved from a tolerated office tool into the single most important technology investment that an organization can make. Why? Because the next breakthrough levels of performance and productivity needed in business won’t come from a better-looking web portal or a bigger Inbox — they’ll come from the ability to tap into the collective knowledge and creativity of our people.

But, here’s the catch: not all collaboration solutions are designed to help people engage the way they want to engage, and they’re also not architected from the ground up to cater to IT’s needs and requirements.

Customers tell us time and again that a modern collaboration platform needs to deliver more than the basics like IM, conferencing and VoIP.  It needs to offer flexibility and choice in support of trends such as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), high-quality video, and cloud-based deployments (private, public, hybrid, and hosted). The modern collaboration platform needs to be usable not just by office workers but by anyone, from physicians to customer care agents, executives, mobile and desk-less workers. And it needs to be as complete of a solution as possible — including the underlying infrastructure, a wide choice of compatible endpoints, and world-class support and maintenance — to maximize business and IT value.

Which brings me back to Microsoft and Lync. We believe Read More »

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Look Out for Risks that Can Impact Your Collaboration Practice

As you may have seen in my colleague Rowan Trollope’s blog, Cisco is kick starting a conversation about what’s changed in the collaboration market and what’s really important for IT decision makers to consider as they evaluate collaboration vendors and solutions.  This is clearly important for Cisco customers, but it’s also a critical topic for our partners. As a Cisco partner, you want to guide your customers to the right collaboration decisions that will solve real customer problems and maximize value.

Following are a few key considerations for partners to look out for in today’s changing market:  Read More »

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Survey Reveals Key Considerations in Collaboration and It’s Not First and Best on Windows

Every day I hear from customers who want to make collaboration more pervasive across their organizations. How do they take advantage of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)? Does it make sense to move some solutions to the cloud? What about video?

Those are all good questions, but as my colleague Rowan Trollope, SVP and GM of Cisco Collaboration Technology Group, said today, this is just the beginning. Cisco commissioned a global survey of 3,320 IT leaders from nine countries (U.S., Canada, U.K., Sweden, Germany, India, Russia, New Zealand and Australia) to find out what’s really top of mind for them. The survey, conducted by Redshift Research, revealed some interesting observations, not only about what matters to IT leaders, but about the differences between Cisco’s and Microsoft’s approach to collaboration. Here are some of the top findings: Read More »

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Video Demystified on TechWiseTV

TechWiseTV Video Collaboration Infrasturcture

TechWiseTV Video Collaboration Infrasturcture

We do a lot of shows about video of course.  It’s always a challenge I think when it comes to defining what the unique value of a given story needs to be.  In this case, we were not featuring newly announced technology, which greatly simplifies the direction for us – but we were considering what we thought were some unmet needs.

Our goal for this episode:  To make Cisco video for collaboration more approachable for every customer. 

Cisco does a lot of things in the broad category of ‘video.’  With more than 8,000 engineers working on video innovation, Cisco is a video powerhouse. Our teams have filed 1,700 video-related patents in the last five years. Innovations include TelePresence, Videoscape, Show and Share, Media Experience Engine, and Pulse Analytics. Internal innovation has been augmented with acquisitions including  NDSTANDBERGBNI VideoInlet, and ExtendMedia.

As we talked to customers and experts within Cisco, we kept coming back to a structure best defined as ‘where are you now’.  In other words, video itself is not new as a concept…but as we narrow down to say this is about interactive video…it became helpful to consider where most Cisco customers might be starting from:

  • Cisco Voice – you are familiar with call manager but have not explored the video capabilities inherent to the platform.
  • Telepresence - you have some high quality video deployed but its special…only for high end events or people.
  • Tandberg – you are good with video but its a distinct system from your other communications – Cisco or otherwise
  • Third Party and Cave Dwellers – Anything from non-Cisco mixed environments to the luddites among us.

Why Every Company Needs To Create A Video Strategy

The assumption is that video is valuable and that the more pervasive and simple it can become in your organization, the more competitive and nimble you can be.  So, with value established, the question becomes about execution.

Our executive guest has a very diverse business and video background who joined us from Tandberg. Jacob Nordan is Senior Director of Product Management for the Collaboration Business Unit. Powers had the honor of hosting his interview. Jacob set the tone for us by highlighting not just our success with various customers, but specifics around how these leaders were using video to pioneer change in their business.

More Reading: Jacob’s Blog Entry on Adopting a Video Strategy

Nathan Shaw joined us for our segment on ‘Understanding Video Endpoints.’  Nathan has been a guest on our show dating back to the very first Telepresence show we did where we helped him load up a Toyota 4-Runner with a CTS 500 so we could get it in the studio. Nathan is an awesome guy with a great background – AND…he is a gushing, proud new father.  Could not be happier for him…and very impressed with his photography skills.

From endpoints, we pursued  ‘Understanding Video Infrastructure’ with Cynthia Lee.  She was a bundle of energy grabbing the pen from Jimmy Ray to help us understand where things like MCU’s and Border Controllers become important to achieve certain video communication objectives.

More Reading: Video Infrastructure Components

Jimmy Ray did a Master Class on the intersection of video and security.  Its was pure fun with Network Address Translation (NAT), Application Level Gateways (ALG)…avoiding risk and things that will go bump in the night.

More Reading: Security for Video

We stole a segment from our upcoming new BizTech show that covered some advancements in using ‘Remote Expert’.

We wrapped up with Phil Marachel.  We wanted Phil on to talk strategy as he is with our Cisco Services team.  His street creed for video is fantastic however as he was doing video way before it was mainstream. As an engineer Phil worked on the biggest systems from PictureTel, the first MultiPoint bridges from Accord…all giants in the earlier years of video.

Hope you enjoyed the show.  This is officially episode number 126 of TechWiseTV and we are loving the support you all continue to show us.

See you in the field!

Robb (& Jimmy Ray)

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Getting Away from Group Think

When was the last time you had a team meeting with someone outside your usual circle of colleagues?

This is a question – and a challenge – laid down by Peter McDonald, a collaboration expert that I met with last week.

Peter works for a consultancy that focuses on helping people collaborate. And they go about it in a pretty radical manner.

One of the things they do is run workshops with people with different profiles, roles and jobs  (and often diametrically opposed perspectives). Many of their workshops involve going into charities and finding solutions to their most challenging business problems.

The results are fascinating. Given often really difficult and complex challenges to resolve, often the more diverse and potentially conflictive the group is, the more disruptive the thinking. And the more creative and interesting the ideas, suggestions and solutions are.

Read More »

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