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Where Cloud and BYOD Meet, Opportunities Abound for Service Providers

The explosive growth of mobility has had a transformative impact in recent years. Increasingly, it is viewed not just as an industry force but as an overall economic lever, driving expansion on a GDP level.

This was a core theme of the 2012 Canadian Telecom Summit, which I attended last week in Toronto. Certainly, Canada itself is a prime example, and there was much discussion about the vital role mobile video and data have played as key enablers in Canada’s economy as a whole.

My presentation and panel at the Summit focused on the opportunities afforded to service providers by this unbridled appetite for mobility, especially from a business-to-business perspective. In particular, I discussed the intersection between cloud and the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement. This evolution, I believe, will be a critical catalyst, ensuring the continuation of mobility-driven productivity and economic growth.

The fact is, service-provider-delivered business-to-business cloud services have not Read More »

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2012 Cisco Live!: Increasing Interconnectivity and Innovation

Last week, Cisco Live in San Diego served as the perfect backdrop for showcasing the pace of innovation. We’ve come quite a long way from the Cisco Live of the ‘90s–those ancestral brick cell phones and clunky PC workstations! This year, people were using their phones to record videos, share pictures, check email, and send out quick tweets as they walked around. Proof positive that mobile internet connectivity has allowed us to better integrate the different roles we play in our everyday lives and to be more productive. No matter where I was, Cisco Jabber kept me connected to my colleagues and team who couldn’t be there.  But just because they weren’t there with me, doesn’t mean they couldn’t experience Cisco Live. In fact, they could remotely access all of the goings-on from any device with internet connectivity.

We are in a decade where flexibility seems to be the mantra and innovation the expectation.  Elastic mobile architectures, as enabled by the recently released ASR 5500 mobile internet platform, showcase flexibility being built from the ground up.  And flexibility is most obvious in our choice of consumer devices and the ability to work our way as enabled by the Cisco Unified Workspace. Ultimately, great minds generate growth and innovation.  Cisco helps by providing better networking and collaborative tools that free those minds to do their magic. It all adds up to a continuous innovation life cycle.

 

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Is Your Hospital Going Broke from Poor Communication?

A few years ago I surveyed around 500 hospital employees in all job categories and departments and asked what the biggest challenge to their workday was.  Three of the top six responses contained “communication”.  So today when I was reading an AHA report[1] on patient flow I was not at all surprised to see communication winning the top prize as the most pervasive and the hardest problem to fix – taking 60% of the votes.  It outpaced the second runner up – visibility to data – which came in with only 30% of the votes.

 “There is strong agreement that communications is the most difficult obstacle to overcome”

-AHA Report of the 2012 Patient Flow Challenges

Dr. Daniel Z Sands

Communication concerns were seen to impact discharge, inefficient patient handoffs and insufficient post-discharge contact with patients.  This is consistent with another study done by the University of Maryland on the impact of inefficient and poor communication, finding that U.S. hospitals conservatively waste over $12 billion annually as a result of communication inefficiency among care providers.  Interestingly, the study linked communication issues with increases in the length of hospital stays which has a direct impact on profitability – accounting for nearly 53 percent of that $12 billion annual economic burden.

Another study by Thompson Reuters demonstrated an indirect relationship between average length of stay (ALOS) and operating income – the shorter the ALOS, the better the operating income[2].

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Cisco Positioned as A Leader in the Gartner Wired and Wireless LAN Infrastructure Magic Quadrant

Gartner has released their 2012 Wired and Wireless LAN Infrastructure Magic Quadrant.  Cisco is recognized as a leader in this highly anticipated publication.

Our industry is going through dramatic changes. The rapid growth of cloud, mobility and business collaborations has put more and more pressure on the network. Disparate wired and wireless networks architected and managed separately are no longer sufficient to meet the new demand. This is the first time that Gartner covers wired and wireless LAN infrastructure together in one Magic Quadrant. It is a clear sign that the time has come to evolve the network infrastructure to address the rapid growth of cloud, mobility and business collaborations with a unified approach.
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Mobilizing the Workforce—No, Really

It’s almost Summer—the season of road trips. And recently I had the privilege of driving across the country. While some might fear loss of productivity with a trip like that, I was actually able to work quite productively, mile after mile—thanks to a WiFi hotspot, Cisco’s VPN, and a laptop charger that plugged into the cigarette lighter. Of course, it helped having someone else do the driving. From Oakland, California to New York City, I participated in Webex meetings, wrote and edited documents, and generally got stuff done. But enough about me.

In Salt Lake City, I met up with kindred spirit Mike Sumsion, chief information officer for iTransact, which helps businesses accept customer payments via credit, debit, and gift cards, as well as electronic checks. “I’ve spent the last 10 years making sure our company could be productive from anywhere,” said Mike. Clearly, he’s one who likes to stay ahead of the curve: A blog post from last month cited a Cisco report that said 46 percent of people surveyed expect to be able to access their corporate network from their personal mobile devices.

Mike’s company employs 50 people. While it keeps customer service employees onsite, sales people can work from home with their same IP office phones and computers that they use in their cubicles. The company is also looking to extend this flexibility to other employees.

In a nutshell, iTransact offers services that let merchants accept transactions without a lot of heavy lifting.  Its service is offered directly to customers and their trusted advisors, like accounting firms, banks, and others. A dashboard interface lets them log in to check on the status of accounts billable, as well as manage real-time interactions remotely.

Given the sensitivity of the information that’s exchanged with each transaction, iTransact’s top concerns are compliance and security. So when it comes to working in the Cloud, things are still evolving. As an interim measure, the company uses Dropbox to make sure employees have updated documentation to share with everyone in real time. Each new employee is set up with a Dropbox account, providing instant access to all necessary documents for his/her role. Since Dropbox is Cloud based, employees who are traveling or working remotely can access the documents from wherever. Plus, it simplifies the information management. Even though the document repositories are managed by a single individual, all employees receive instantaneous updates.

Looking ahead, iTransact does see more Clouds on the horizon. “We’re building a gateway 2.0. that will absolutely use the Cloud. We’ll be able to drop a node anywhere in the world, fire up a virtual machine and have it accept transactions,” notes Mike. “We’ll be able to scale geographically, and offload geographically as needed, to the server that makes most sense,” he adds. And the icing on the cake: All the databases and self-contained software will allow for 100% uptime. This becomes especially important as they cater to smaller businesses, with transactions and updates happening constantly.

So what does a fast-moving small business see for its future? “It’ll be more mobile,” says Mike, without hesitating. “Look around you—increasingly, anyone can buy anything from anyone at any time. We need to manage the data, accordingly. The dashboard we built—that will become a mobile app; our internal employees will update records via their phones and customers’ transaction processes will become more mobile than they are now,” he adds.

Amen to that. As one who thrives on traveling—and getting stuff done regardless of where I am and regardless of whether I’m a customer or an employee—I think the future looks absolutely sunny. With a few clouds, of course.

To learn more about how Cisco can help your small business, click here.

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