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A Wider View of Collaboration – and its Benefits

“Collaboration” usually means “people working together productively by sharing voice, video, and data”. Inside Cisco, the standard idea of Collaboration includes a lot of IT Technology, like:

  • all voice-based Unified Communication (that is, all IP Telephony from hardware and software phones, and all Unity voicemail, and all Contact Centers)
  • all Video conferencing (from Jabber or WebEx clients, video phones, desktop video, room TP, and immersive TP),
  • all streaming video like Cisco TV (IP/TV) for large multicast events, and
  • software clients like email, web sites and blog sites and document repository sites, Jabber IM, voice and video, and WebEx voice, video and data

But sometimes Collaboration means more. For example, Cisco IT likes to say that we “enable people to collaborate with any device, from anywhere, at any time” which really expands the scope of collaboration. Read More »

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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.

Read More »

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Clearly Communicate, Closely Collaborate to Innovate

Innovation matters.
And innovation requires collaboration.
And collaboration requires clear communication.

Without clear communications, you open the door for all sorts of innovation-hindering situations: Miscommunications, misunderstandings, and misinterpretations. Errors, delays, and disagreements. 

forbes post 1c

Most of these issues are avoidable. And it doesn’t take magic. It’s actually pretty simple: Integrate video into your normal collaboration. There’s no longer a long list of reasons to limit video to the boardroom, executives, and special occasions. We’ve reached the intersection of low cost and high-quality.

The range of video options available now reaches from the pocket to the laptop to meeting rooms and all the way into immersive boardroom environments. Keep your fine tableware for holidays and special occasions if you’d like, but video no is no longer a special-occasion technology.

When it comes to technology, today’s reality brings video into reach across the org chart: high-quality video-conferencing equipment, simple applications, and powerful bandwidth. And on the (more important) human side of the equation, people are becoming more comfortable with video in their personal communications through consumer devices: smartphones, tablets. Read More »

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Indoor Wi-Fi Location and Beacons: Better Together Part 2

wifibeaconLocation-based services have been getting a lot of attention lately and people are increasingly curious about how Wi-Fi and beacons play together in the hot space that is indoor location technology. In my last blog I reviewed how beacons work and how to differentiate when to use Wi-Fi and beacons. There’ve been some great questions about beacon technology and how it complements Cisco’s location-based Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) solution, so I want to follow up on these topics with everyone.

What types of beacons are there?

Generally, there are two different classes of beacons: transmit only and backhaul enabled.

Transmit only beacons are exactly as they sound – they simply transmit information to anyone that is capable of hearing (bluetooth enabled smartphones). They do not receive or pass any data or information upstream.

Apple’s iBeacon is the best example of this type of BLE beacon. You can think of them like the navigational beacons used by airplanes when on approach to major airports. The beacon doesn’t even know the plane is there, but the plane is aware of the beacon and knows where the beacon is allowing it to take the correct action. Same is true for smartphones and transmit only beacons like iBeacon – the intelligence is located in the mobile application which must recognize the beacon and take appropriate action.

Backhaul enabled beacons generally include a Wi-Fi chipset for either management or data capabilities. Some backhaul enabled beacons are USB enabled and take advantage of whatever connectivity exists within the PC they are connected. Read More »

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Indoor WiFi Location and Beacons: Better Together

wifibeaconIn just two years, indoor location technology has taken off and attracted a lot of buzz across industries, from retailers to healthcare. But it’s no longer a conversation about just Wi-Fi – the introduction of beacon devices, including iBeacon, has added a new dimension to location technology for IT and their line of business counterparts to grapple with on how to leverage it to better reach their customer base.

Some customers have been asking about beacon technology and how it fits in with Wi-Fi, so let’s start from the beginning:

How do beacons work?

Beacons are sensors that send out Bluetooth low energy (BLE) tracking tags.  These sensors can be placed around a venue, such as a store, and a mobile device can pick up the BLE signal and determine that it is in close proximity. When a mobile app is built off of this technology, it can be used in interesting ways to interact with the end user, such as notifying a customer of a promotion for an item they are close to.

I’m having trouble differentiating Wi-Fi and beacons. What do I need to know? Read More »

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