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Santa’s Special Connections

Since they graced the covers of The Saturday Evening Post, the illustrations of Norman Rockwell and J.C. Leyendecker have created many of the Christmas holiday season’s de facto images. For many families, the reality of their Christmas celebration doesn’t match the picture-perfect, however. That’s especially true when the family member with the strongest belief in Santa has pressing questions like “how will Santa find me if the hospital has no chimney?”

The good news is that as he readies for Christmas, Santa is taking extra time to visit with children who are hospitalized this season. Instead of just making a quick stop on his whirlwind worldwide delivery route, he’s checking in with some of these very special children from his communications headquarters at the North Pole. Not content to have one of his shopping mall stand-ins do the work, he has personal face-to-face videoconferences with kids who can’t leave the hospital. Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, posted a great video of Santa’s visit from earlier this week.

Connected Santa is a collaboration in which volunteer elves visit hospitals to help make the connection between children and Santa. Using Cisco TelePresence and Jabber technology, the elves conference a child with Santa so they can have the ever-important conversation about good, bad, and wish lists.

Just the other day I Read More »

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Digital Disruptors and the Future of Consulting

In my role as leader of the Analytics Practice for Cisco® Consulting Services, I often meet with clients who remind me of how the nature of consulting is changing. Traditionally, a consultant’s value and relevance to the customer has been derived from his or her business background and knowledge of specific industries or areas of expertise. The consultant comes in and takes a look at the client’s critical business issues, then makes top-down recommendations based on his or her specialized business experience.

This traditional model is being challenged by what I call “digital disruptors”—consultants whose credibility comes not just from their past experience, but from their ability to extract value and insight based on data that is gathered at the operational base of the organization: the network. This bottom-up approach is turning the consulting industry on its head—driven by data gathered on the network and turned into business insights by analytics.

Consider, for example, a major enterprise that has made a large investment in infrastructure for video collaboration. The company’s leaders want to see what kind of value they are getting back from their investment in order to evaluate further investment in collaboration. Cisco Consulting can help this customer not only because of our industry expertise, or even because of our knowledge of video collaboration technology—but because we can take an analytics-based, digital-disruption approach to the customer’s challenges. The key is our ability to tap into the video infrastructure itself, combine network and other types of data, and give the client a view of how the infrastructure is being utilized.

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“One Size Fits All” is for Hats – Not Video

Once upon a time, not so long ago, high-end videoconferencing was a luxury item available mostly to the C-suite. It required special equipment. It was expensive. It wasn’t all that intuitive to use.  That was then.

Today, video is part of day-to-day communications – not just for high-powered business interactions, but also for personal connections. In a world of distributed workforces where colleagues are separated by miles and organizations hire where the talent is located, video has become the standard form of collaboration and communication as a way to keep the pace of innovation and efficiency needed to stay competitive. Unlike before, the equipment now ranges from specialized rooms with high-end, high-def equipment to tablets and smartphones that provide the needed level of quality and fidelity required to be useful to the users. How are we getting from pricey and exclusive to completely pervasive? Technology catches up to what we want it to do. It’s the Moore’s Law theory applied to all technology that is valuable in business – performance increases while the economics and footprint decreases.

When Cisco dove into the waters of video collaboration, the demand was from the boardrooms of the business world. Business was becoming more global, yet organizations were trying to reduce travel costs –a communications conundrum. How could we improve the videoconferencing experience? Read More »

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A Few of my Favorite Things: Video and the Internet of Everything

Once again, the holiday season is upon us. It’s a time to reconnect with friends and family, share memories and relax.

Unfortunately, today’s busy world prevents many of us from physically being together during this special time of year. But these days, the Internet of Everything is starting to be able to bring more people, things and traditions together through immersive mobile video and telepresence experiences.

Video Drives Experiences

Gone are the days of trying to capture memories with old-school video cameras. New waves of cloud-based, mobile, and video applications and machine-to-machine connections are documenting our lives in cool new ways. These are much more useable and sharable, and fun. These applications and connections are also contributing to the explosion of mobile data traffic. In fact, because mobile video content has much higher bit rates than other mobile content types, mobile video will generate much of the mobile traffic growth through 2017, according to Cisco VNI.

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A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

Competition is the sign of a healthy market; and the recent increased cadence of venture investment focusing on startups in the video market underscores what Cisco knows well: video plays a key role in business today, and will play an even bigger role tomorrow.  As the old idiom goes, a rising tide lifts all boats.  As video becomes more pervasive in the enterprise, the opportunity for an industry to rally around the movement might create more competition. But in the end, it is about driving more innovation and better economics so that we all win – customers, partners and vendors.

The opportunity to change and influence the way that people collaborate, engage with one another, and communicate is exactly why I decided to join Cisco and lead the Collaboration marketing team.  One of the things that has struck me recently, however, is that the perception in the market is that Cisco is only delivering solutions geared at the absolute high end of the market.  The fact is that Cisco was a high-end pioneer in the video market with innovations around immersive telepresence; absolutely true.  No one will refute that. The little known fact is that Read More »

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