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Different Viewpoints, Greater Innovation

Inspiration: We all lose it from time to time. Sometimes we find it again in the strangest places, and other times, in the most obvious.

How many times have you gone into a meeting expecting minimal outcome only to have the light bulb go off after someone’s comment? Today, we have access to some of the brightest minds in the world thanks to collaboration technologies and virtual networking.  And as a result, the spark can come from anywhere.

Take for example the Bloodhound SCC (Super Sonic Car).  The ‘engineering adventure for the 21st century’ aims to not only build a car that can go 1050 mph, but to inspire and teach students about engineering, math, science, and technology. By using Cisco networking and video services, they are able to reach out to schools all over the world and inspire the engineers and scientists of the future.  This is much more exciting than local robotic car racing competitions held in the engineering schools during my university days.  And when a problem needs to be solved, engineers and scientists can come from anywhere—virtually—to provide different viewpoints to help troubleshoot.

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Recognizing Communities Around the World: Part 2

Last week I spoke with Louis Zacharilla and Robert Bell co-founders of the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF).  They were both very busy getting ready to announce the Intelligent Community of the Year at the Building the Broadband Economy summit in New York City June 6-8.

Each year, ICF presents an awards program for Intelligent Communities and the public-sector and private-sector partners who contribute to them.   

This year the 2012 Revolutionary keynote theme will be Intelligent Communities: Platforms for Innovation.  Innovation is one of ICF’s five Indicators, but the special theme will focus on how Intelligent Communities create uniquely powerful innovation ecosystems on a foundation of information and communications technology.   Innovation in Intelligent Communities brings together business, government and institutions in a dynamic partnership that produces results ranging from better and cheaper service delivery to citizens to the birth and growth of entrepreneurial businesses and vital new institutions.

There is a nice synergy between the Cisco Smart+Connected Communities and the Intelligent Communities recognized by ICF. 

This year’s ICF finalists include: 

  • Austin, Texas, United States
  • Oulu, Finland
  • Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
  • Riverside, California, United States
  • Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
  • Straford, Ontario, Canada
  • Taichung City, Taiwan




 Do you know any communities that deserve to be recognized?

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Digital Britain: The Rise of the Intrapreneur

Today, the term Entrepreneur is used freely by a lot people, typically to describe someone who has started their own business or launched multiple new ventures.   Since being a part of the Shoreditch tech scene, I’m now starting to understand the unique characteristics of people that can best be described as “entrepreneurial” — and then letting my mind wander back into my own life experiences.

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Communications Innovation: Brand Journalism and Cisco’s Corporate News Site

Brand journalism. Depending on what hat you wear in your organization,  you’ve likely heard, read or even followed the buzz around this relatively new trend in communications. Maybe, you’ve even tried it.

“At it’s most basic level, brand journalism involves honest brand storytelling that invites audiences to participate” says Kyle Monson, former tech journalist and editor at PC Magazine in a his article Dispelling the Darkness with Brand Journalism.

While brand journalism, or brand content as some prefer to call it, is talked about quite a bit, it is not as easy to find it in practice.  I know this, because I lead the content efforts on The Network, Cisco’s technology news site.

Several months ago we started “experimenting” with brand journalism (although, at the time, we really didn’t call it that…we just saw an opportunity and went for it). We began working with a team of seasoned journalists, names you no doubt know and have likely followed for years if you are a true technology enthusiast. Our expectations of the writers were, and still are, very simple: pitch and produce good, solid stories around topics that we, Cisco, are interested in such as collaboration, video, core networking, cloud, mobility and security to name a few. There is no requirement to mention Cisco at all, in fact a vast majority of the stories don’t…and that is just fine. Our goal is to lead the conversation, to spark engagement, to identify trends relevant to our business and the industry.

So that is the “brand storytelling” Monson refers to. As for the stories inviting “audiences to participate,” that is where sitting on the social media team really kicks this effort into high gear. Not only is social woven into everything we produce from commenting to social actions…we encourage our fans to take our content, republish it, share it…all we ask is that we’re credited. I’m telling you…this is the best deal around. We are offering FREE content from award winning, noted journalists on topics you are interested in. It might very well be the best deal of the decade…in my humble opinion.

I don’t think it can be stressed enough, this is a very different way of communicating at the corporate level. It looks and feels different and, to be very honest, we as a team get challenged, at times, on our approach by our own peers as they try to understand this new way of communicating. But, to me, this is where it gets exciting. This is where the real innovation starts to happen. I’m reminded of a conversation I had recently with a senior engineer at Cisco. He told me, if you have an idea and everyone around you supports it right off the bat, then it is not innovative…it is too obvious and likely has already been done, or soon will be. Alternatively, if you have an idea that causes a bit of disruption and you get some push back…you are likely onto something.

I’d say The Network is onto something. We’ve designed a very social site chock-full of solid content that is aligned with the company’s overall communications goals. While still in the experimental stage, we have gained recognition in the industry, most notably 2012 Webby Awards Official Honoree and Best Online Newsroom of the Year (Silver) 2011 Bulldog Digital/Social PR Awards. And, it’s not just Marketing and Communications pros taking note, top journalism schools are asking to learn more about what we are doing as they prepare their students for an industry in flux.

See for yourself what we are doing. Visit The Network. Read our stories. And better yet, Take. Share. Engage. The stories are there for the taking.

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No Holds Barred @ the EG Conference

If you missed the EG Conference on inspiration and innovation, check out Cisco VP Marie Hattar’s recap in her blog, “No-Holds-Barred Inspiration.”

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