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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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A Pervasive Video Experience Is an Integrated Experience

March 14, 2014 at 9:25 am PST

Video is a hot topic for Cisco collaboration right now. On Wednesday, we announced a series of new products that help businesses of every size make high-quality video accessible to every employee. At Enterprise Connect next week in Orlando, Florida, Rowan Trollope, who leads Cisco’s Collaboration Technology Group, will be a keynote speaker and discuss why video is so important to the collaboration experience and the new way we work.

In fact, many other companies are also seeing the high value of video to the enterprise today and are entering the video market. With so many options to choose from, how do you determine the right video solution for your company? I’d say it depends on a number of things:  the experience you are seeking, the business results you want to achieve, and how flexible you need your collaborative architecture to be.

For example, would you like to do real-time video communications with your customers using WebRTC? Do you plan to put on webcasts and virtual events at your company to save on travel costs?  Will you deploy private or hybrid cloud models to achieve more architectural agility? Are mobile video apps part of your BYOD strategy? Maybe you would like to do all of these things.

An important part of achieving an exceptional collaboration experience is integration. For users to have a productive and seamless experience, you must implement a fully converged solution and take steps to ensure user adoption. Cisco Services helps that “delightful” experience emerge on a browser or in the boardroom by putting technology and complexity in the background.

The integrated video experience Read More »

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Surviving the Conference Call: There is a Better Way

Wall Street Journal writer Sue Shellenbarger makes some great points in her recent article “Surviving the Conference Call.” She points out many of the downsides of not collaborating in person — people multitasking during calls, bad audio, the inability to build rapport.

I remember those days well. For me, they’re in the past because I use video on nearly every call I make, whether it’s a group conference call or a 1:1 conversation with a co-worker.

Shellenbarger reports that about 65% of all conferencing is still done via audio calls, according to Wainhouse Research. To some, video may seem like the future, but it’s really available and affordable here and now. It’s moving from an executive-only tool to something available to everyone.

At first I was surprised that Wainhouse predicts time spent in audio conferences in the U.S. will continue to grow 9.6% a year through 2017. But in context, it’s pretty slow growth compared to predictions for video conferencing (check out Figure 14).

True, video is a new concept for many of us. Just the idea of being heard and seen is a hurdle for some people. I used to hide from cameras at parties and now I use one throughout the day. The benefits quickly outweighed any awkwardness. I found right away that the ability to have eye contact with people and see their physical reactions during a conversation makes a significant difference in the communication. Read More »

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Creating the Next Generation of Collaboration Experiences

If you’ve been following Cisco Collaboration recently, you’ve probably noticed we’ve been changing things up…and I don’t mean just a little. Truth is, we’ve been busy completely reimagining collaboration and setting the foundation for a revolution in the industry.

We’re listening to users who have told us that they are frustrated with today’s tools and, more importantly, these tools limit their ability to work the way they want.  We are building collaboration tools that are simple, elegant and beautiful. Tools that get out of the way, reduce friction and let you work the way you want.

I am proud of the technology we announced today.  It represents the largest single change to Cisco’s collaboration portfolio since the initial launch of TelePresence and every stitch of it meets the “new Cisco Collaboration standards”—meaning you will love the attention to detail and want to use it.

We have an uncompromising approach to the user experience that includes the delivery of incredible video experiences from the boardroom to the browser and all the spaces in between. Cisco’s affordable endpoints for spaces and organizations of all sizes and all use cases will make that happen. And when we can get these experiences into the hands of users, amazing things will occur.  We truly believe that these next gen tools will let users work the way they want to work.

As proud as we are of these new offerings, here’s the very best part:  Read More »

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Open New Opportunities with Amazing Collaboration Experiences

March 12, 2014 at 5:01 am PST

As a Cisco Collaboration partner, you are always looking for new ways to reach more buying centers and dazzle your customers with an engaging collaboration experience. Today, Cisco announced new innovative solutions to help you do just that. This is our most significant video launch in many years, and we are changing the game with great experiences for any screen, from the browser to the boardroom. Rowan Trollope’s blog describes our unique approach to developing collaboration solutions that customers will want to use each day. But, of course, collaboration is about more than just video. We have big enhancements to packaged solutions and cloud capabilities, as well. Together, our new advancements will not only help accelerate your sales, but help you deliver greater business outcomes and drive value for your customers.

Make Collaboration Simple and More Affordable

In order for more people to use collaboration as an essential part of their workday, it must be simple to use. Our new innovations such as the Cisco TelePresence SX10, Cisco TelePresence MX200 and MX300  products break down barriers to video adoption and make it affordable to turn every conference room into a videoconference room. For example, the SX10 is a simple, easy to deploy new system that turns any standard flat panel monitor into a videoconferencing system, letting you demonstrate how video can boost the productivity of any meeting. This can enable access to new budgets and new conversations across customer organizations. Read More »

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