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Keeping Your Future in Mind As You Invest in Enterprise Collaboration Solutions

Both mid-sized and large enterprises know the value of employee collaboration to increase productivity and give the business a “leg up” on its competitors. As more businesses make sizeable investments into collaboration technology, it’s important for them to select products and services that not only meet their unique needs but also encompasses a comprehensive solution from the ground up that caters specifically to increasingly mobile employees.

Today, Sprint announced the availability of Sprint Complete Collaboration, a bundled service that gives customers a full UC solution that can be quickly and easily deployed over an all IP network. This Sprint solution is based on Cisco’s Hosted Collaboration Solution which gives partners, including service providers and integrators, the ability to deploy multiple collaboration applications on one server in a virtualized environment and then host those applications for multiple client organizations. The solution is designed to be run from partner data centers.

What does this mean for the end users who are increasingly on the go? It means being able to access collaboration applications from any device (smart phone, laptop, tablet -- you name it) anywhere at any time. It’s instant collaboration designed for today’s distributed enterprise; a feat that is best achieved when an organization opts to deploy a collaboration solution that -- at its foundation -- is keeping the bigger picture in mind: that these days, employee collaboration is no longer bound by “office walls.”

Sprint’s news validates the demand for a collaboration solution that allows service providers to leverage their own infrastructure to differentiate and drive fixed mobile convergence. We announced this new feature last December with new mobile features to HCS. As one of our first customers to announce availability of this feature, we are thrilled to see that the market is seeing the value of extending this feature to their subscribers. Read More »

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Making interoperability work in unified communications and collaboration

As we kick off this year’s Enterprise Connect conference, one subject I am discussing a lot with customers is interoperability. This topic is always evolving, but our customers’ need for interoperability has remained the same. So what are the customers telling us about their interoperability requirements and concerns within unified communications and collaboration, and what is Cisco’s approach to addressing those?

What customers want:

At its heart, interoperability is about enabling the free flow of communication across boundaries – whether those boundaries are geographical, across firewalls between businesses and their ecosystems or customers. Customers want to be able to share information quickly and easily across different systems from multiple vendors.

Customers also stress the need for protecting their investments in existing systems and extending their capabilities to new types of work scenarios. These systems include infrastructure (such as Active Directory or Exchange or Notes), voice and video systems (such as Cisco’s Unified Communications Manager and TelePresence and competitive products from other vendors), and desktop or enterprise productivity applications (such as Microsoft Office, IBM Lotus, SAP, Salesforce.com and others). They must work within heterogeneous environments and accommodate new solutions as they come to market.

But that two systems work together is not enough. They must come together as seamlessly as possible to ensure an uncompromised user experience

Finally, this all needs to happen across platforms and devices, particularly as we move toward a post-PC era of many different devices -- from smartphones and tablets in the field to desktop computers and immersive room-based systems. These devices need to be blended into customers’ existing collaboration environments while providing a consistent and compelling user experience.

This is what customers want.

What the industry needs to do:

Read More »

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“What If” Could Be Now: A New Retail Experience

March 7, 2012 at 7:04 am PST

Consider me a weekend warrior of the DIY home-improvement world. My projects are likely laughable (in scope and outcome) in the eyes of the professionals, but if that’s the case, they’re not invited to my next barbeque. So there.

Granted, I sometimes experience delusions of grandeur as I envision transforming my fixer-upper into a quaint Sunset magazine-worthy before/after feature. Norm Abram will never worry about me usurping his reputation, but I like fixing things when they break and looking at something I’ve improved and knowing I did it.

I can swing a hammer and even use a tile saw, but most projects involve a lot of learning and asking questions along the way. Sometimes that’s a bit of a process – finding the answers I need or the people who have them. Read More »

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Barry O’Sullivan: 2012 Collaboration Predictions

This week in No Jitter, Cisco Collaboration Senior Vice President and General Manager Barry O’Sullivan looked into his crystal ball and elaborated on his predictions for 2012.

In an excerpt, Barry predicts:

“1. Post PC-era will explode

2. Video will break through

3. Contact Centers will evolve as customers choose to interact with companies in radically new ways

4. Companies will use the cloud and desktop virtualization to provide collaboration capabilities across the enterprise

5. Social business processes will become mainstream for many.”

Read Barry’s predictions in more detail and the follow-up answers Barry gave to Eric Krapf’s questions. I trust you’ll enjoy reading the article.  Send in your predictions for 2012 for collaboration, video, social software, and contact center.

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Maximizing Mobile Collaboration for the Post PC Era

Almost every customer that I speak to is looking at the opportunity that new mobile devices -- smart phones and tablets -- bring to increase collaboration and drive new business capabilities.  And consistently, customers are asking these five questions:

  1. How closely will the UC capabilities on my mobile device not just meet, but exceed the experience on my desktop?
  2. Will users be able to make and receive calls on their mobile devices anywhere in the world as if they were using their desk phone?
  3. Is video to the mobile device available at all, and if so is it really “business-ready” or is it more of a poor imitation of the TelePresence experience?
  4. Are Wi-Fi access points evolving to better handle the increased traffic and usage patterns that come from adding mobile devices on the network?
  5. If I choose a cloud provider for UC-as-a-Service, will that in any way limit my ability to deliver UC capabilities to a mobile device?

For Cisco, these questions are easy to answer because mobility and user experience are not an afterthought.  Our collaboration development philosophy is people-centric -- that is driven by the user experience.  And in the post PC era where tablets and mobile phones are primary work devices for many during each day, that experience must not just be equivalent to the desktop -- but maximize the unique opportunity that these new form factors provide.  This is a fundamental change in the user experience model and Cisco is maximizing the potential of this new class of mobile devices.
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