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Wi-Fi & Taxes: Digging into the 802.11b Penalty

It’s that time of year again in the US – Tax Time!  That time of year where we review the previous year’s bounty, calculate what’s due, and re-evaluate our strategies to see if we can keep more of what we worked for.  Things change; rules, the economy, time to retirement, and before you know it you find yourself working through alternatives and making some new decisions.

Anyway, as I was working through the schedules and rule sheets, my mind wandered and I started to think about Wi-Fi and the taxes associated with it.  In my day job, I often play the role of forensic accountant.  Like a tax accountant, I’m always looking for a way to get more or understand why there isn’t more already.  So along those lines, lets talk about a little known tax that you may well be paying needlessly.  I’m talking of course about the dreaded 802.11b Penalty.

Wi-Fi protocols like 802.11b are referenced by standards committees for the workgroup that develops them.  In the 2.4 GHz spectrum, there is 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n.  Back in 1997, 802.11b  was the first modern Wi-Fi protocol ratified by the IEEE and it allowed transmissions of 11 Mbps, a major jump forward from the previous 2 Mbps  that was possible with the original 802.11 standard.

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After 802.11b came 802.11a, and then 802.11g.  Both of these protocols where a radical departure from the simplistic 802.11b structure and employed Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) modulation (now standard in every 802.11 protocol created since then).  OFDM allowed for Read More »

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High-Tech Hotel Receives Cisco Upgrade and “Powers Up” Guest Experience

Traveling can be stressful – for business or leisure – and hoteliers do their best to make sure that the hotel in which you choose to stay during your time away from home provides the best worry-free conveniences available.  High-tech hotels are taking steps in the right direction by offering in-room automation, loyalty perks, mobile check-ins and more to enhance the guest experience.

But even luxury, high-tech hotels need upgrades sometimes.  To validate this point, we look back at Boston in March 2012 at an event referred to as the ‘Back Bay blackout.” Unfortunately, an electrical fire in Boston left thousands without power. I imagine the scene was a little chaotic without lights, phones and Internet. The Mandarin Oriental, Boston and its guests were also left without access to phones or Internet during this power outage. Read More »

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Corporate Video Enhances Your Communication Strategy: “The Ordinary Message in Extraordinary Ways”

I dare you not to communicate. Go ahead, I dare you. Try it. Try not to reach over to your smartphone. Try not to open a new e-mail. Try not to type a quick instant message. Try…

My point is you can’t not communicate. Yes, I realize the blaring double negative, but it’s true! Communication is innate to our being. It’s one of the many fascinating things that make us human. We communicate—all the time, every time, about everything.

This desire to communicate is no more apparent than in the workplace.

Let’s face it, we all have a lot of work to do that requires the minds of many talented people; and so we not only want to communicate, but we need to communicate. Whether you are setting up conference calls for team communication or rolling out a mass e-mail to inform your company of a major development, you have a message to share, you have something to say.

And while war room meetings, telephone conversations, written e-mails and newsletters are tried and true methods for getting your message out there, video proves to be one of the fastest growing communication platforms. In his 2014 recap of CES for The New York Times, Nick Bilton writes, “Ooyala, a mobile research firm that collects data on the viewing habits of 200 million online video watchers, reports video consumption on smartphones and tablets continued to rise rapidly through 2013.”

Even more compelling—100 million Internet users watch an online video every day according to Sarah Mincher’s blog for DigitalSherpa.com. It’s a no brainer—corporate video should be at the forefront of our communication strategy. Why? Because corporate video is efficient, both collaborative and interactive, and most importantly, it’s connective and engaging.

First and foremost, corporate video provides efficiency.

Take for example a major product launch. Let’s pretend you need to share with both customers and your employees new developments in your product offerings. Have a look at how Cisco promoted its latest ACI roll out:

You lock down a conference room large enough to cram a few hundred people inside to recap the key points of your announcement, but how do you get that message to people based in different parts of the world? Do you fly out to each country to deliver the same presentation? Seems costly. Do you schedule multiple sessions to accommodate everyone’s schedule? Seems time consuming. However, recording that session and making it available for your team to watch on their own time allows for a cost effective and efficient solution. The beauty of corporate video communication is its reach. Video knows no limits—whether your audience is small or large, local or international, readily available or challenging to schedule, a video can get your message to its intended target.

Furthermore, corporate video communication is collaborative and interactive.

It takes a lot of talented people to produce and green light a video. Rarely is corporate video the creation of a single visionary. Instead, it requires a team effort to create a unique concept, to plan a realistic execution, and to mold the final piece. Check out how Cisco University Careers highlights the Finance Rotation Program for career seekers:

The collaboration of content experts, producers, directors, editors, and many more improves the chances of getting your message across successfully. Your bases are better covered as multiple people view your video to provide insight and feedback that you may not have considered.

And in the off chance that your corporate video slightly missed the mark? No worries, your audience is going to tell you why it didn’t work and likely explain what they would have wished to see; because video communication is not only collaborative in making, but interactive in its distribution. Often, we share our corporate video communication on interactive platforms—think YouTube or internal websites—sites where people can leave comments, rate content, and provide feedback.

Sounds like a scary invitation for critique? No! Think of it as market research, audience analysis, metrics that will help you to better craft and hone your communication strategy.

Finally, corporate video is connective and engaging.

It connects people to people, to narratives, and to engaging discussions that they wouldn’t necessarily have access to in their ordinary workday. Watch how Cisco CEO John Chambers invites and welcomes thousands of attendees to Cisco Live!:

In fact, 75% of executives watch work related videos at least once per week according to DigitalSherpa.com. This is especially important for those major corporations where thousands of employees dispersed all over the world must find some way to stay connected to the heart of their company’s mission. It’s easy to get tunnel vision when it comes to our work, to focus on what we need to do to be successful as an individual, and to assume that everyone else is aware of our tasks. However, we are one of many, and corporate video helps to keep us accessible to one another.

I once had a client ask me if I’d ever seen our CEO in person. At first I thought she was joking, as I assumed everyone must bump into him at some point in their career. However, she further explained that she’d only seen him in videos, and like a ton of bricks I became hyper aware of the importance of corporate videos. How would some of the employees of a global corporation “see” their international colleagues, their CEO, and their executives without corporate video? I was reminded of the many communication opportunities corporate video provides employees as things like company-wide broadcasts or streamed conventions allow thousands to watch their leaders have discussions, introduce new strategies, celebrate accomplishments, and work through challenges. I began to wonder if a company as large as Cisco could maintain a sense of unity, pride, and success without the connectivity provided by corporate video?

Luckily, corporate video will continue to grow as employees and customers look for collaborative, interactive, engaging and efficient ways to connect people to their messages.

Ah, but at what cost you ask. We’ll tackle that issue in a future blog.

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Can technology help government support community services and reduce costs?

Last week I had the opportunity to host two groups of visitors:  a group of community policing leaders from the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and a delegation of foreign exchange students from Iwata, Japan.  I enjoyed meeting all the guests and the conversations we had about the many changes and challenges in our communities.

We discussed the impact of increased diversity and convergence of cultural values, critical budget issues facing government agencies, and the continuing need for citizen services for community safety and emergency response.  We brainstormed ideas for how technology can help.

Despite the severe economic and environmental challenges, both groups were optimistic about our future and the potential for technology to play a positive role.

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Solving the “Cost/Reach Equation” in the Public Sector

When the world economy went into recession, many political officials and commentators talked about “not wasting a crisis” – making sure we took the opportunity to learn some lessons from the downturn and solve problems that would make the economy — and the world — more cost efficient. Today, while there are brighter signs around economic recovery, we still face a seemingly intractable parcel of outstanding issues.  Indeed many countries around the world are still struggling with both growing their economies and reducing budget deficits.

Rather than “not wasting a crisis” perhaps we should be thinking about not making a “crisis of waste.”  Said simply, there are enormous efficiencies available to public entities to improve the lives and well being of citizens through transformational efforts that can lower the cost and increase the availability and quality of citizen services. 

Across the globe, the public sector faces one clear and present challenge: the reality of increased service requirements bonded to constrained or declining budgets.  Demographic shifts, growing social expectations, and an increasingly more complex and dangerous world are driving enhanced public sector requirements to serve and protect citizens.  However the need to address deficit spending remains the defining paradox. The conundrum created by increasing need to serve and decreasing ability to pay is a “cost/reach gap.” 

For the first time in several generations public leaders worldwide are rethinking both how they deliver citizen services as well as how they consume information technology.  Many experts believe governments should not revert to traditional processes and IT practices.  Instead, they should look for ways to improve both cost effectiveness and service.  Indeed, the public sector could actually lead the private sector in transformational approaches to building efficiency and driving customer satisfaction through innovation in cloud computing services, cyber security, mobility, and video. 

Governments are looking to technology to improve efficacy and efficiency of service delivery in key mission areas – intelligence, defense and security, economic development, education, and health care. In the area of healthcare, practitioners and payers are looking at remote forms of care like Cisco’s HealthPresence to extend the reach and availability of medical services, and particularly to help leverage and defray the typically high cost of specialist consults and other services that are typically geographically scattered.  Being able to remotely “visit” with a medical specialist means less waste for everyone. For the patient, it means greater availability and quality of service, for the health practitioner, it means more time helping patients and less time travelling, and for the employer it means lower productivity losses.  

Cloud computing is another area where governments and other public entities are cutting waste.  Replacing large one-off department and agency- level system resources and sharing IT capabilities through a secure government cloud, or G – cloud, are becoming realities and gaining traction in the UK and Germany as well as a range of other nations.  

While in the past technology has been often lauded for streamlining back office operations and speeding transactions, today’s challenges mean thinking about technology in a much bigger and more far-reaching way. Today’s needs are about cutting costs, for sure. What’s new is the triple expectation of reducing costs while increasing high-quality public support and driving new and higher-performing internal processes that connect people to solve problems and advance new ideas in highly useful and efficient ways. 

A good example of this was recently announced by our partner, AT&T, with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).  The GSA recognized that it needed to accelerate collaboration among a range of government agencies and put in place a managed, pay-as-you-go TelePresence service.   The GSA took advantage of a public/private partnership with AT&T so regional meetings, training, inter-agency planning, crisis management, partner and supplier discussions can all use this service and pay for it on an hourly basis, avoiding agency start-up costs. 

This is just one example of public and private partners working together to overcome the cost/reach gap and it is the tip of the iceberg.  As technology solution providers like Cisco and forward-thinking public sector leaders work together to address how to best support increasingly complex public needs, I believe we will build a new public sector paradigm that will address the cost/reach gap in ways that will be both cost effective and provide new and better solutions for our citizens.

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