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4 Ways Video Conferencing Makes a Difference

4 Ways Video BenefitsIt’s not an industry-specific thing. Video conferencing can provide business benefits no matter the industry. Retailers and financial institutions are employing video to interact with customers. Medical professionals are consulting with one another across distance. Manufacturers are addressing production issues more quickly and thoroughly.

Where the need for interaction exists, so does the potential for video conferencing to add value. Once upon a time, suggesting a meeting over video was folly. It was too complicated, expensive, and it required equipment housed in the hallowed halls of the executive wing (and maybe an IT guru).

Now it’s on my smartphone, tablet, and laptop. My kid can figure it out. Hurdles cleared. Check.

A recent Forbes Insight article, “Boost Innovation with Video Communications,” outlines eight ways video can provide business advantages. Here’s my take on four of them.

1. Reduce travel costs.
Making video conferencing available up and down the org chart not only reduces travel, but it removes distance as an impediment to collaboration. Although I’ve decreased my personal business travel, I work with far more people outside of my primary work location than I ever have before. And our collaboration is more successful.

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Expressway: The Invisibility Cloak for Mobile & Remote Users

Improving workforce productivity is about more than telling employees to work harder, do more, and think faster. It’s about giving them the right resources and removing barriers so that they can do more.  One way Cisco is helping organizations improve productivity is by making our technology invisible to users.  We’re designing our products to be so intuitive that the complexity of the technology fades away and simply lets the end-users do what they need to do.  No training, no extra buttons to push, no fancy set ups, and no need to involve IT.   It’s a journey, but we are making progress.  A great example of this progress is Cisco Expressway, our advanced collaboration gateway.  It is the “invisibility cloak” for a variety of use cases including for mobile and remote workers.

Unknown to remote and mobile Cisco Jabber users, Cisco Expressway is behind the scenes doing the work to make their experiences secure and easy.  Employees simply log into Jabber and begin collaborating on their device of choice no matter where they are.  It’s Expressway’s firewall traversal technology working in the background that hides (eliminates) the need for the user to fire up a VPN. And with Expressway x8.5’s new single sign-on capabilities, employees do not need their user name and password every time they want to access a different application on Jabber.  It just works.

Similarly, Expressway is helping teleworkers by enabling VPN-less access for Cisco endpoints including Read More »

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Simplify Sales with Remote Product Demonstrations

I spent the last eight months on the front lines of the virtual demo world for Cisco. Working from our headquarters in California, I met with people from all over the world to demonstrate our latest products — without a single plane trip. Using collaboration technology sales teams can avoid travel expenses, sell more, and increase productivity.

Most significant business purchases require some form of travel. Companies need to send sales experts out in to the world to demo their products. Or, depending on the products or the situation, customers often travel to the vendor’s site. Although travel involves expense and time, personal interaction is important to customer relationships. Travel can make the sales process more cumbersome and time consuming. But without travel, you limit the degree of direct engagement you might have before a customer makes a buying decision.

How Can Remote Demonstrations Add Value to the Sales Process?

Remote product demonstrations are providing companies with a less-expensive option to engage with customers. And the best part of it is that neither customers nor your technical experts have to travel as much. Just as video is changing the nature of meetings, it’s also a fitting solution Read More »

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Mud, Lightning and Collaboration

GlastonburyDespite having spent most of a weekend stood in mud, rain and thunderstorms at the Glastonbury festival, I’ve spent time since happily reflecting on some of the amazing collaboration between performers over the three days.  Aside from the various bands, whose members (presumably) work closely together all the time to perfect their sound, there were some fairly unlikely partnerships on display too.  Dolly Parton and Richie Sambora from Bon Jovi rocking to “Lay Your Hands on Me” for example. Or Ed Sheeran and Rudimental ripping it up in the middle of an electrical storm.

These combinations got me to thinking about how businesses with very different skill sets and competencies frequently come together to collaborate.  For small to midsized businesses the ability to collaborate effectively with partners, suppliers and customers is often critical to success.

Many organizations collaborate specifically to accelerate growth and innovation.  According to the Plante Moran 2013 Innovation Survey  of 4,225 business leaders,   94% of respondents felt that Innovation was important to sustainability and growth. And three quarters felt that collaborating would increase their chances of success with innovation, with the majority open to sharing financial risk and reward.

“Collaboration was considered a possible jumpstarter for innovation among three out of four of the respondents to the innovation survey.” Plante Moran 2013 Innovation Survey

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Work is What You Do (Not Where You Go)

As I wrapped up my monthly forecast call last week, it struck me just how drastically work has changed in the last decade. It was 10 p.m. and I was in my hotel room in Macau, face-to-face with sales team leads in Singapore, the U.K., Switzerland, and the U.S., over video. Ten years ago, mobile phones were just phones, and for many, the office was where you met with co-workers and got your work done.

Today we’re mobile. Our workforce is globally distributed. Deadlines are shorter than ever. We need to make decisions faster. With multiple generations in the workforce, we must accommodate a wide range of behaviors, outlooks, expectations, and work styles. To stay competitive, we need to look beyond commute distance to find the best talent.

I’ve said before that embedding collaboration technology into workplace design is critical to the success of any workplace transformation effort. Our activity-based  work spaces must give employees secure, seamless access to the information they need to get their jobs done. But this must also extend beyond the walls of our offices so we can collaborate no matter where we are – at home, at a customer site, inflight at 30,000 feet, or in a hotel room in Macau.

And we’re not the only ones who think so.

  • Almost half of professionals worldwide are already working remotely at least some of the time
  • Globally, the world’s mobile worker population will reach 1.3 billion by 2015
  • 61% of employees globally believe they don’t need to be in the office to be productive and efficient
  • 70% of aspiring executives who plan to manage large teams say they will rely more heavily on video in the next 5 to 10 years

Work Is What We Do, Not Where We Go

At Cisco, our own work profile surveys show that among Cisco employees: Read More »

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