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Like Chocolate and Peanut Butter, Some Things Are Better Together

Collaboration is an inherently social concept. It’s about people and connection. It’s about communicating, working together, interacting to meet goals, accomplishing tasks, innovating, and creating. Just as people have unique personalities, so do the ways they collaborate for business, whether 1:1 or in groups, in structured meetings or hallway conversations, sitting at desks or on park benches, in real-time conversations or long-term interactions.

As technology evolves and geography becomes less relevant to connecting with others, the options for how we collaborate multiply. And multiply again.  But technology itself is an enabler of collaboration, the value is in the connections that people make – with each other, information, and ideas.

Finding ways to improve the connections between people and the information they need to share is critical to improving business. From our perspective we want the technology to disappear; providing the ability for people to interact in the ways they interact best, wherever they are.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”―Helen Keller

We see great value in providing social solutions to our customers. Bringing together social networking with communications technology provides people with the means to collaborate and gives them flexibility to do the best work they can. Like Helen Keller, we believe people working together can achieve extraordinary things. We believe the same is true of companies.

Increasingly, organizations are looking for ways to integrate social solutions into their collaboration tools and business processes. Throughout the past decade, Cisco has continued to weave social into the fabric of our own collaboration portfolio.  At the same time, we continuously looked for opportunities to collaborate with other companies to integrate new technologies and improve what we can offer our customers – bringing the best of the best together to provide our customers with the ideal solution to fit their business needs.

Today I am happy to announce that we are entering a relationship with Jive Software
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New hardware Solutions, New Investment, What Does it Mean to Industry?

The video collaboration world has reached another interesting inflection point.  The market has shown that there is an experience threshold to deliver effective remote video collaboration – recall the rapid doubling of the video market between 2006 and 2008 when HD video became possible across a range of platforms.  It is also clear that high quality experience delivers both dramatic productivity increases as well as significant business growth opportunities.  So what is holding back the market currently?

The challenge has been to deliver the threshold experience at a price point that is accessible to everyone. The solutions that are being offered up until now have either been too expensive to roll out at scale or have compromised on quality, security, connectivity and interoperability to the point where the experience threshold is not achieved.  The market has shown that “good enough” does not deliver the type of user experiences that businesses need.

We have been talking about quality attributes for some time, and arguably Cisco has been progressively improving this with both software and hardware developments.  However, the latest endpoints announcements from Cisco at Enterprise Connect address perhaps the most fundamental requirement to drive the video collaboration market:

  • Delivering business video for everyone

Video collaboration has delivered many benefits to the organizations that are taking advantage of it today. By embracing this technology these organizations are seeing greater productivity among their employees, partners and vendors as well as reduction in travel costs by using video to be anywhere at any time. Read More »

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Putting the User Experience First at Enterprise Connect

Today in my keynote at Enterprise Connect in Orlando, I talked about what really matters -- the user experience with collaboration.  And, when you look at the experience that’s offered today, and you talk to end users, you realize today’s tools do not match the way people want to work.

People today want the collaboration experience to be as good on the go as it is in the office. They want it to be simple, incredibly intuitive and work across just about any device they care to use, from the boardroom to the browser and everywhere in between.

Our mission is to get amazing yet affordable collaboration into the hands of more people.  We are working on this every day.  Our recent announcement—the single biggest refresh our video portfolio has ever seen—is just one example of how we’re doing that. But, we’re not just looking at how Cisco can change the game. We are always looking at other companies that have a similar mindset and trying to see how we can do great things together.

Today, I had the pleasure of being joined onstage by Rajen Sheth of Google. We announced an exciting collaboration that I think Read More »

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Keep It Simple: Collaboration Lessons from Coaching Kids

Andy blog - soccer imageAs an enthusiastic football (U.S. translation: soccer) fan, I watch my two young sons playing youth-football every week. Not surprisingly it was only a matter of time before someone asked me to help coach. To keep up the pretence I actually knew something about football; I started scanning around for coaching tips and drills.  After a while I came across an e- book called “KISS: Keep it Simple Soccer: How to coach youth soccer” by John Fraher.

In it is a quote from legendary Dutch footballer, Ruud Krol:  “Michels [coach] taught us always that simple football is the best. It is also very difficult to play simple football.”

This got me thinking about the oft-quoted business principle “Keep It Simple, Stupid” and how it applies to collaboration technologies.

I’ve only been focused on marketing midsize collaboration solutions for a few months. Already I’m delighted by stories I hear from our customers talking about how our solutions enable their teams to work in new and exciting ways.

But I occasionally hear people say things like, “that’s all great for large enterprises, but it’s too complex” or “it’s not affordable for small to medium sized businesses.”

Well, the good news is that is not the case. We’re simplifying things.  And there are many examples of smaller organizations using collaboration technology to bring people together, with amazing results.  Take Switzerland’s 60-employee Intercantonal Reinsurance, which is seeing a 10-20% improvement in employee efficiency with Cisco Business Edition 6000.

I’ve worked in midsized businesses for a large part of my career. The relevance of collaboration technology and the opportunities it offers for growing businesses are just as great as for larger enterprises – if not greater. Read More »

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Flexibility – The Key to Video Collaboration

In my previous blog I talked about the transitions that are coming in the collaboration market.  This drives the need for intelligent video collaboration -- a consistent user experience across a portfolio of endpoints and platforms.  Any-to-any connectivity is fundamental.

From a deployment perspective, there are two solutions in the market – on-prem and cloud services -- balancing between flexibility and operational control.

An example of the successful reach of cloud solutions for collaboration is Cisco’s WebEx conferencing solution with more than 2.3 billion minutes of meetings per month.  On the other side of the spectrum, operational continuity and security has driven major investments in on-premise solutions.  For example, Cisco’s on-prem collaboration solutions are used by 95% of the Fortune 500s, and span every market sector.

Clearly, both on-prem and cloud are needed.  The critical question is how do these worlds connect without any burden on the users.  The breakthrough for providing flexibility is to connect these two worlds together.  Read More »

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