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Collaboration Summit 2013: Don’t Forget the Kids!

Ask Rowan Trollope, Cisco’s new SVP/GM of collaboration, what industry execs he identifies most with these days and he just might say “those running toy companies”. After all, toymakers can’t build just for buyers (aka parents) or for users (aka kids). These groups tend to define “fun” a little differently, so favor one over the other and your business is headed in the same direction as T-Rex.

The same holds true in Enterprise Collaboration; design solely for “the parents”—the business, IT—you stand a really good chance of totally losing “the kids”— not just Gen Y-ers, though they are a huge force in the business world today, but anyone who is getting work done with colleagues, partners and customers around the globe and around the clock. These are savvy users—even the least technologically inclined spend half the day on pocket-sized supercomputers (smartphones, tablets). They’ve become accustomed to personal tech that is beautiful to look at, simple to use and simply works—right out of the box.

Just like kids have a huge say in what toys parents buy, today’s users have a huge say in what collaboration tools get used to get the job done. With this in mind, Cisco is totally-completely-wholly committed to delivering collaboration tools that appeal to “kids” and “parents” alike. From now on we’ll delight end-users with beautiful, simple products while at the same time delivering the security, scalability and manageability the business and IT demand.

So what did we announce? You can read the full press release here; below is some additional color commentary on my favorite of the newly announced innovations:

No more “let me call you right back.” We’ve all done it: arrived in the office mid-smartphone-discussion and suddenly the desk phone with its oh-so-ergonomically correct speakerphone Read More »

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A Generation X Perspective: Collaboration My Way?

I was recently digging through a closet at home and happened upon some boxes with old tech gadgets from years past.  As a Gen Xer who grew up with a Commodore 64 and whose first personal workplace productivity tool was a US Robotics Palm Pilot in 1997, it made me come to two realizations.  First, technology has really changed – and for the better.  And second, I need to start parting with things that no longer work in the current state of the working world.

My generation is described as highly individualistic.  We’re supposed to be technologically adept, flexible and value work/life balance.  And I can assure you I am all of those things.  But when I think about my career and how my generation’s cultural values have translated into the technological culture of the places I’ve worked in years past, it hasn’t always been rosy.  I used to be tethered to a cubicle with a desktop computer and telephone.  Things got slightly better with laptops, but there were no Apple products or personal devices allowed on the network.  One supported choice for a smartphone?  Not so smart, really.  But as new generations are entering the workforce after me, I’m seeing a dramatic shift occurring in thinking and approach.

I’m noticing that both organizations and technology providers alike are recognizing the need for change and designing for a new way of working – giving employees access to technology like never before. Whereas I used to have difficulty getting collaboration tools to do the job, now there is a plethora of them at my disposal.  But be careful what you wish for. Read More »

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Working Smarter: The Paradigm Shift in Business Collaboration

For the last few years I have had a growing conviction that my workplace collaboration tools were fundamentally broken and needed to be reinvented. So, last year when I was given the opportunity to join Cisco as the leader of their collaboration business I jumped at it. The way we work has changed dramatically over the last twenty years. The expectation that you can work from anywhere, at any time, has become the norm. Change is always hard within IT, but, as you read in my last post, it is the companies that embrace these new models of work who will benefit from a more innovative, efficient, and happier workforce.

Let’s face it, our primary collaboration tools were invented over twenty years ago when “working” looked very much like what you see in the popular TV show Mad Men – what I call the “Don Draper era.” A time when you went into the office, sat at your desk, had a physical landline, and a desktop PC loaded with legacy business tools; an environment that assumed we would always be in the office during normal business hours and behind the walled garden of IT. Fast forward to 2013 and look around, the way we work today is fundamentally different than the way we worked twenty years ago, yet many of our business IT systems and tools have been slow to catch up. In frustration, many employees are turning to the collaboration tools they use in their personal lives such as Dropbox, FaceTime, Gmail, Evernote, and Facebook to get their work done.

The rise of cloud and mobility have driven an acceleration in consumer technology so quickly that today, ironically, Read More »

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London Olympics 2012 Ticket Sales – Powered by Your Social Network

Welcome to the New World of Borderless Network (aka wireless technologies) leveraging the plethora of collaboration tools and apps widely available reaching millions of internet users witnessing the beginning of the Post-PC era. It is not surprising then that the collaborative power of social media has gained importance in our lives.

Speaking of passion, sports and movies, tops the charts for most Indians. And most have, at some point in time, either won or referred a friend to a cricket/football match contest on the radio or online, but how is it, when it comes to something as big as, the Olympics. What if I said, between the Athens and London Olympics, it is you who have influenced and continued to drive the sports ticket business using your social media clout and your power of the network. It surely feels good, doesn’t it? Here’s your proof: Read More »

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I’m a People-Centric Collaborator

November 14, 2011 at 2:19 pm PST

Although Cisco identifies me with a five-digit employee number, an eight-character username, and a rather generic HR-devised job title shared by 467 other people, I really prefer to be acknowledged as a human rather than as a database entry.

True, my badge is oh-so-personalized with my name and photo, but I apparently looked alarmingly like I could be Harry Potter’s sister when the photo was taken more than eleven years ago. (Or so says a co-worker. I think it was the rather round eyeglass frames…) All that badge tells you is my name – and possibly that I might be good at wizardy stuff.

The concept of people-centric collaboration and corporate cultures is definitely an area of focus for me. I’ve worked in technology companies for more years than I have fingers (ok, and toes) and although my employers have appreciated my individual skills, they haven’t always given me the opportunity to be a person or encouraged collaboration. Read More »

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