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When Free Conferencing Services Aren’t Really Free

I’m sitting across a table from a guy we’ll call Mike.* He’s trying to join an 8:00 a.m. conference call from one of those free services. It’s not working.

First, the hold music is awful. I can hear it from here. I’m pretty convinced that it must be worth a few bucks a month to avoid just that aspect of the experience.

The call drops about 20 seconds after the chirpy voice announces “you are the only participant on this call.” When Mike calls back in, he gets the horrid music again before the system promptly launches him into a seemingly endless loop of two different recorded voices competing for his attention: “Please enter your conference code” and “Please enter your PIN.” (It’s not clear which voice is more authoritative, so he tries both codes. Neither work.)

He dials in a third time and lands in the same loop of arguing voices. The third time it not a charm after all.

He gives up and dials Luke, who originally set up the call, directly. Luke was also having trouble, so he agrees to set up another call through a different service.

All this for an audio-only bridge? Why is it so difficult?  Read More »

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For Better Collaboration Try Breaking The Rules

I recently read an article Why Getting It Wrong Is the Future of Design. It speaks to how innovative design changes often come from doing things that would be considered completely wrong. The article focuses on art, graphics, architecture, theater, movies, tableware, and even video games. Then I read this line “I was following the rules, then selectively breaking one or two for maximum impact.” and it got me thinking. What are the rules to collaboration and can we break a couple that result in better collaboration?

I’ve always been one for experimentation in trying different things, using various products, and embracing change. After reading this article I’ve been trying to selectively break a few rules and thinking about other rules to break. It hasn’t been easy, because there are many hard and fast best practices on how to collaborate. Here’s some of what I have come up with:

  • Forego physical meeting rooms: If the entire team is physically located in the same area could they be just as, or even more effective meeting virtually? There are a lot of remote workers and many teams at Cisco are geographically dispersed so virtual meetings are a must, but if a team is located in the same building many members will still attend virtually.  I can see benefit to this approach. People who couldn’t attend would simply review the meeting recording at their convenience and not rely on meeting minutes. The team could also move away from fragmented means of communications to using virtual meeting rooms (Cisco Spark) for correspondence. Since most projects involve shared input into documents, room based document control is a great way to provide visibility to changes without relying on a single person to collate individual updates and rely on e-mail to share updates. Perhaps the biggest benefit would be consistency in attending the meetings in the same way, but also being able to always have a place for ad hoc meetings and tasks while providing visibility to everybody.

Read More »

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Keeping in Tune: Simpler Collaboration From Any Device

Did you know that the Guns N’ Roses anthem Sweet Child O’ Mine was originally written as a practice guitar riff?

A friend told me this as I recently struggled to play it, making sounds closer to ‘chopsticks’ than to one of the most famous guitar tracks ever created.

The fact that I was playing a borrowed guitar may have made it more difficult, though. Playing a familiar instrument is so much easier, if only because you know its foibles! Read More »

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How to demonstrate Inclusion in 5 Simple Steps

Last week, I gave an internal talk to our Cisco Inclusion and Diversity Ambassadors on “How to demonstrate Inclusion in 5 Simple Steps”. I am a firm believe that Inclusion and Diversity is not what I call an “extra-curricular activity” but is an inexhaustible tool that should be woven into every aspect of our culture and all of our interactions at Cisco, both inside and out. Read More »

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Cisco WebEx Meetings Mobile App now available for Kindle Fire

Get out of the office and still get your work done. Use the free WebEx Mobile app right from your Kindle Fire and take your meeting from anywhere that has Internet access.

Our newest app release allows you to participate with high-quality two-way video on your Kindle Fire by viewing the video feeds of the participants in the web conference and streaming your own video back to them.

Join, start or schedule WebEx Meetings from your Kindle Fire!

Download it right from the Amazon Appstore!

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