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For Better Collaboration Try Breaking The Rules

I recently read an article Why Getting It Wrong Is the Future of Design. It speaks to how innovative design changes often come from doing things that would be considered completely wrong. The article focuses on art, graphics, architecture, theater, movies, tableware, and even video games. Then I read this line “I was following the rules, then selectively breaking one or two for maximum impact.” and it got me thinking. What are the rules to collaboration and can we break a couple that result in better collaboration?

I’ve always been one for experimentation in trying different things, using various products, and embracing change. After reading this article I’ve been trying to selectively break a few rules and thinking about other rules to break. It hasn’t been easy, because there are many hard and fast best practices on how to collaborate. Here’s some of what I have come up with:

  • Forego physical meeting rooms: If the entire team is physically located in the same area could they be just as, or even more effective meeting virtually? There are a lot of remote workers and many teams at Cisco are geographically dispersed so virtual meetings are a must, but if a team is located in the same building many members will still attend virtually.  I can see benefit to this approach. People who couldn’t attend would simply review the meeting recording at their convenience and not rely on meeting minutes. The team could also move away from fragmented means of communications to using virtual meeting rooms (Cisco Spark) for correspondence. Since most projects involve shared input into documents, room based document control is a great way to provide visibility to changes without relying on a single person to collate individual updates and rely on e-mail to share updates. Perhaps the biggest benefit would be consistency in attending the meetings in the same way, but also being able to always have a place for ad hoc meetings and tasks while providing visibility to everybody.

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Make Collaboration a Key Part of Your Litigation and Claims Handling Strategy

For those of us who have been in this industry awhile, the Property and Casualty (P&C) insurance market continues to be plagued by inefficiencies in claims handling and litigation management. Adjusters assigned to manage the claim are geographically dispersed, have varying degrees of expertise about the loss event, and handle multiple claims simultaneously. Disparate legacy systems still exist, and silos are prevalent between business, technology, and lines of business. This can result in wasted time and compromised claim performance.

Industry leading insurers should consider applying unified communications and collaboration technologies to lower claim expenses, while transforming the entire claims process into a seamless experience for all parties involved. Insurers continue to be challenged with diverse collaboration methods, especially for long-tail, complex claims in litigation, frequently with high monetary exposure potential and multiple collateral sources involved. A well-defined collaboration strategy can benefit customers, self-insureds, defense law firms handling insurer claims in litigation, agents, brokers, third-party administrators, government entities, court systems and reinsurers. Read More »

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Don’t You (Forget about Employee Engagement)

Tonight I’m heading out for a huge slice of nostalgia. I’m going to see 1980s pop group Simple Minds. No doubt there’ll be much reminiscing and swaying of hands to classics like “Don’t You (Forget About Me).”

This year Cisco has been celebrating its 30th birthday. Another recent addition to the 30-something list is the movie “The Breakfast Club.” This John Hughes classic became an icon of the time and helped make Simple Minds and “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” world famous.

As a remote worker, I understand it could be easy to feel “forgotten” and become disillusioned with a lack of information and sporadic contact with your managers, peers, and co-workers. How do you, for example: Read More »

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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 http://www.cisco.com/web/strategy/us_government/collaboration.html.

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