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Collaboration: The Cure for a Rollercoaster Economy

Today, we’re featuring a guest post from Rick Hutley, a vice president in Cisco’s global strategic consulting arm, IBSG. Rick advises business leaders in every industry about how technology—and more often than not, Intelligent Network technology—can help businesses achieve their goals.

As we embark on yet another economic rollercoaster, the goal of dramatically reducing costs while simultaneously growing revenues and market share seems impossible to attain. Yet, this is what businesses must do to survive.

In my opinion, the answer to this dichotomy is “collaboration”—enabling your workforce to be more effective at significantly lower costs. Collaboration can deliver significant benefits. Cisco®, for example, realized $1.4 billion in collaboration benefits in FY2010, up from $1.1 billion in FY2009. This was achieved across 27 initiatives at an annual cost of only $128 million.

These findings are detailed in a report titled “Economics of Collaboration at Cisco” by the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG), with analysis from its Research & Economics Practice. While every company is different, the following Cisco examples from this report offer a compelling business case for adopting similar initiatives where you work.

  • Business travel optimization to enable greater collaboration across regions while containing travel costs resulted in expense savings of $519 million per year and time savings of $140 million per year.
  • Telecommuting initiatives to increase productivity, tap global talent, and improve sustainability resulted in time savings of $320 million per year for Cisco and commute cost savings of $49 million per year for employees.
  • Connected Workplace, Cisco’s solution for optimizing knowledge worker productivity in the office, generated a 43 percent reduction in space per worker, real estate savings of $33 million per year, and energy savings of $2 million per year.
  • Next-generation Unified Communications resulted in salesforce time savings of $27 million per year and improved customer service.
  • Faster time-to-market capabilities with improved remote collaboration accelerated the introduction of Cisco’s ASR 9000, increasing margins by $90 million, reducing time to market from 4 to 3 years, and lowering R&D costs by $70 million.

To achieve these results, Cisco employed much of its own technology. Cisco TelePresence®, for example, powers a new way of working that allows us to be more productive through face-to-face, two-way video collaboration. Cisco WebEx® enables us to hold highly effective team meetings by sharing information whether we are using a desktop computer, laptop, or smartphone. Cisco Unified Communications links our phone, email, and other communications systems so we never have to miss a call or wait until a colleague gets back to his or her desk to respond to a critical email. And finally, Cisco QuadTM provides a single, integrated experience where individuals, teams, and communities connect, share, learn, and collaborate.

In today’s volatile economy, it’s clear we must learn how to collaborate better. Fortunately, technologies like those employed by Cisco can give your company an edge by improving competitiveness, innovation, and, most important, business results.

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Dangerous Travel

I recently had the opportunity to fly out to HQ and while this was not my first opportunity to do air travel this year (refer to my blog about Alaska) I did make some observations about business travel, and trust me, they relate to Manufacturing. By the way, and I do this totally tongue in cheek, part of the trip was to record some new videos to give you all more reason to see me and make fun of me. So hang on! That’s my plug to come back. Read More »

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The Resilient Society: The Next Phase of Public Sector Reform

Public sector decision makers are under enormous pressure to deliver results in difficult and uncertain times. In late 2010 and early 2011, the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) conducted in-depth interviews with more than 100 senior public sector executives from around the world—at the city, regional, and national levels. Responses from these officials were remarkably consistent regarding the key challenges they face in a world undergoing significant economic, political, environmental, and social transitions.

Some of these public leaders expressed concerns about their organizations’ capacity to respond to new policy and service demands, budget reductions, and the need to engage new technology platforms for innovation and service delivery. Other challenges related to the public sector’s ability to help cities, regions, and countries navigate the current uncertain and volatile environment.   Read More »

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Machine Builder Business Models, Sustainability and Innovation

So my wife and I recently took a two week vacation to Alaska – without computers or anything but camera’s and our ever important smartphones. I didn’t realize that Marie Hattar, our Segment VP was going to write a blog about the importance of vacations and productivity – see that here. Imagine that, I overachieved via a vacation!

At any rate, back to the vacation – we left on Sunday so Saturday was reserved for clothes washing and packing. Great plan until the motor on the washing machine froze. We ended up Saturday night finishing the wash at her father’s house. Then after the trip (that was fabulous by the way. Everyone needs to take a cruise through the Inside Passage!) we ended up having the repair service visit to confirm the motor was shot (new motor cost more than the washer was worth, so conclusion: buy a new one) and using his washer/dryer for another week. That meant bundling up two plus weeks of wash, carrying it to his house, doing the wash for a few hours, etc.

I was reminded of the challenges a manufacturing company would have due to an unexpected machine breakdown. You have to isolate the problem, get appropriate repairs, possibly upgrade the machine, possibly line up alternate manufacturing capability, etc. I’ve blogged before about the needs for continuing MRO schedules and the importance of properly servicing your manufacturing machines and lines. But how do you prepare for a critical machine that suddenly breaks? Can you rapidly sub out the work? Can you quickly get the machine replaced? What if the newer machine doesn’t fit in the line directly? Read More »

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Refreshing the Pro in Your Productivity

This week the U.S. celebrated Labor Day, a holiday that, according to Wikipedia, celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers. To my mind, that translates to productivity. But interestingly, on the holiday that marks the end of summer, I came across this interesting piece: “Hey, America: Take a Vacation!

The takeaway: compared to other countries around the globe, Americans not only get less vacation time from their employers, they don’t even use up all their allowances. And yet, as CNN Reporter Fareed Zakariah notes, “America’s growth historically has been fueled mostly by investment, education, productivity, innovation and immigration. The one thing that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with America’s new growth is a brutal work schedule.” It really makes you pause.

So this leads me to a series of What Ifs: What if, instead of logging the extreme hours that we do, we used that time to revitalize ourselves—to become more productive in our family relationships; to explore hobbies or creative interests that train our brains to work in new ways; to pursue volunteer opportunities that can contribute to the betterment of others. What if we took time to do things that truly brought us together as fellow citizens to help build stronger communities?

Read More »

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