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Unlocking the power of mobility: The right technology, culture and process

Freedom brings risks and rewards. And, that is certainly true when it comes to mobility for most organizations. Mobility unleashes our ability to communicate, collaborate and innovate across geographies. These rewards, however, come with security, policy and network management challenges. Not a day goes by that I don’t hear this first-hand from customers, partners, and providers as they think through the issues associated with bring your own device or “BYOD”.

And with more sophisticated mobile devices entering the consumer market, the BYOD trend will only accelerate. As 44% of workers use three+ devices for work each day, our customers now recognize that they need to think beyond the device and address the issues of secure data access and network management. Their challenge: how to “lock it down before they free it up.”

A recent global survey commissioned by Cisco from the Economist Intelligence Unit, Secure Data Access in a Mobile Environment, questioned 578 senior executives on the current and ongoing challenges stemming from increasing trends toward worker and user mobility, and how this has shaped company BYOD practices and policies. The respondents represented several different industries, with major ones including IT and technology (13%), financial services (11%), professional services (11%) and energy and natural resources (9%). Overall, the results found that although manyexecutives are uneasy about the security of corporate information on mobile devices, the trend is largely unstoppable and proper policies must be initiated to underpin access to this sensitive information.

In my new role as head of worldwide sales for Cisco, I oversee a distributed team of highly mobile professionals around the world who require the ability to “work their way” regardless of location, so I can relate to the challenges our customers are facing when it comes to managing the influx of personal mobile devices. Below are a few key findings from the survey, which are consistent with what I’m hearing from our customers:

  • Most executives are still uneasy about their companies’ mobile data-access policies.
  • 42% say that C-suite needs secure and timely access to strategic data, yet, only 28% believe it’s appropriate to access this from mobile devices.
  • 49% say the complexity of securing multiple data sources and a lack of knowledge about mobile-access security and risk are top challenges for their companies.
  • Larger companies are most willing to allow mobile access to critical data, but also impose stricter rules
  • 47% of companies with revenue under $500m permit access on personal devices with policies that are more informal.
  • Over 90% of companies with over $1b revenue allow access to data via personal and company devices and have written and enforced security policies.
  • BYOD requires that companies take a fresh look at how they attempt to control devices and use. And importantly, mobile policies must not neglect social networking.
  • There is a gap in what is stated and what is allowed; 56% of respondents have policies for acceptable use of social networks on mobile devices, yet, 33% of the executives are restricted from discussing work on these platforms.
  • With an influx of devices, available infrastructure is the key influence on company policies around mobile access.
  • 60% cite IT infrastructure requirements as the primary influence on policy around security and security related to mobile access

It’s clear from the survey findings that each new opportunity to further connect and engage employees brings with it a corresponding set of challenges. Social media will become a critical component in the world of BYOD, as multiple devices necessitate collaboration technologies that must work in tandem. Tools will also have to become adaptive, as social applications begin to overlay with collaboration technologies. Additionally, mobile applications will begin expanding into the mobile workforce, creating further implications for those working outside the firewall.

With this in mind, the creation of a collaboration strategy that integrates  the right technology, the right culture and the right processes is key to unlocking the power of mobility. On the technology front, we know that devices are only as useful as the connections they have, which makes an intelligent network more critical than ever before.

At Cisco we’re committed to helping you address the challenges associated with BYOD so that you can enable your employees to work where and how they want, securely. I would encourage you to check out the full EIU report here, and then learn how Cisco and our partners can help you build a unified workplace strategy at www.cisco.com/go/yourway.  Let me know your thoughts on the survey and how Cisco can help your business. We’re only just beginning to see how mobility will transform the enterprise and Cisco is excited to lead the way.

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Schools Face Unique BYOD Challenges, But Are Finding Solutions

October 9, 2012 at 11:33 am PST

As a member of the Cisco Public Sector team, and being married to an educator, I have been engaged in a few (sometimes heated) debates on students, teachers and staff bringing their own devices to school. Many teachers have seen impressive results from utilizing students’ own devices in the education process, and with school budget cuts, most teachers do not have any other mobile option, so it’s safe to say that BYOD is taking a strong hold in education.

As a result, schools find themselves addressing unique issues of scalability, security, manageability and budget when it comes to developing and implementing BYOD policies. How will they accommodate in real time the explosion of new devices and applications that students and staff want to use on the network? How will they regulate who uses what device from which location in what manner? How will they support BYOD within a restricted budget?

I recently read an interesting post by Amy Blanchard on this topic. You should check out her recent post on the Cisco Mobility blog, she includes reference to an interesting case study -- definitely worth the read!

By the way, what is your position on BYOD in schools? Love to hear your interesting stories and insights!

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Cisco, Customers and Partner Speak of Possibilities at ITxpo

October 2, 2012 at 3:32 pm PST

We all know something about the evolution of agriculture.  Once upon a time, a horse pulled a plow, led by a man who spent days upon days in the fields.  And small, local rivers were dammed to redirect water to crops.  Today, monster machines plow acres in minutes.  And irrigation systems feed farms that are hundreds of miles away. 

The long-term evolution of productivity and efficiency was dramatic.  But what does the near-term evolution of business processes look like?

I hope you can join Cisco at Gartner’s Symposium/ITxpo.  You’ll get near-term business evolution insights from folks like Barry Libenson, CIO of Land O’ Lakes, Inc., and Ron Gilson, CIO of Johnsonville Sausage, Inc.  They’ll join Marie Hattar, Cisco’s Vice President of Enterprise Segment Marketing and Bhavani Amirthalingam, World Wide Technology Inc.’s Vice President of Information Technology on Monday, October 22nd at 3:30 pm to discuss the topic, “Work Your Way: A Mobility Strategy for Business Success”.

Cisco’s Unified Workspace makes “Work Your Way” possible

Just a short decade ago manufacturers communicated by phone, by email and by foot. Many business conversations occurred in the same geographic location. Product management, operations meetings and training often occurred on the same campus. A company’s culture and reputation was defined by things like face-to-face meetings, hallway conversations, employee recognition and the attention provided to customers.

Today, employees, supply chains and processes are widely dispersed.  Meanwhile, skilled workers are retiring and they’re harder to replace.  What evolutionary solutions are manufacturers choosing in order to bring remote and shrinking resources together?   Read More »

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How Cisco VXI Improves Contact Center Business Processes

In a recent interview, I discussed the importance of prioritizing business processes that have the most impact when deploying virtual desktops.  One common business process that can significantly benefit from a virtual desktop delivery model is in customer service.  Cisco offers an innovative contact center solution that creates the foundation for positive customer service, resulting in greater customer satisfaction, loyalty and competitive advantage. With the latest release of Cisco Virtualization Experience Infrastructure (VXI), we are able to support Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise, further improving the benefits to contact centers that are moving to desktop virtualization.

By deploying Cisco Contact Center Enterprise as part of Cisco VXI, IT can now  Read More »

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VXI: Increased Productivity with Telework

September 28, 2012 at 7:45 am PST

Working from anywhere has its benefits —and increased productivity is one of them! I speak from personal experience as well as from Cisco’s evaluation of the productivity of 20,000 full-time teleworkers, which found that 60% of the time employees saved by not commuting went back to the company. With those kind of numbers, it’s no wonder more companies are increasingly adopting telecommuting policies. The private sector is already reaping the benefits and now it’s time for federal agencies to experience the same rewards.

In the video below, Cisco Federal CTO Dan Kent discusses how adopting flexible telecommuting policies and boosting employee productivity go hand in hand.

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