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Project Squared: You Asked, We Listened

When we launched Project Squared in November of 2014, one of the things that was really important to us was to listen to our customers, and to use the things we heard to adjust the experience. We established several “listening posts” – ways for us to get feedback. Analytics and metrics were one way. Another way was a feedback capability right within the application. We encouraged our users to use the feedback feature to report problems, but to also make feature requests or generally tell us what they think.

Within a few weeks of launch, we already started to see some trends in the feedback we were receiving. The number one requested feature that we got – by a long shot – was the ability to leave a 1-1 room. For the engineering team, this was an unexpected request. Why do users want to leave a 1-1 room? After all, if a 1-1 room has no activity, it will downwards in the room list and you won’t see it anymore. So, what is the issue? Read More »

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Community Manager: Digital Maven

The expectations on the modern marketer are ever-increasing. 

The list of skills required includes the classics:

  • market research
  • creative writing
  • attractive branding
  • engaging event management
  • seamless customer support

Add these relatively newer skills:

  • crisp digital photography
  • smooth video
  • webpage coding
  • real-time social media listening
  • business analytics
Community Manager Appreciation Day

Cisco Community Managers sharing selfies on Community Manager Appreciation Day. #CMADselfie

The community managers behind the brands you continue to support are able to do all of the above.  Otherwise, you wouldn’t be happy with the brand.  Branding is all about making you happy.

Read More »

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Wi-Fi moves to real-time with VoWi-Fi

The recent release of the Cisco® Universal Wi-Fi solution for service providers is the industry’s first end-to-end solution with HD VoWi-Fi (Voice over Wi-Fi) as a key feature. This focus on Voice signals a significant turning point in the role of Wi-Fi in Mobile Network Operator Networks (MNOs).

Up until now, while Wi-Fi access has widespread acceptance by MNOs globally, its focus has been for low $ yield best-effort traffic. Wi-Fi’s significantly lower cost per bit TCO has made it attractive for taking on the bulk of the insatiable mobile device data demand in recent years. However now we see a shift in this approach, from looking at Wi-Fi as a secondary “best-effort” access only to also being a supplementary access for real-time services i.e. Voice.

VoWiFi

The culmination of several enhancements in the Wi-Fi end-to-end solution Read More »

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Giving Agile A Brain

There’s a pretty great, short post from Business Insider last year that’s been getting re-circulation recently. It’s one-sentence summaries of famous business books like The Innovator’s Dilemma, Good to Great, Outliers, Purple Cow and The Lean Startup.

I particularly liked BI’s short summary Eric Ries’ book The Lean Startup, which is centered around the concept of creating a “minimum viable” product and then iterating on it, fed by with continual customer input and analytics. Here’s the nicely done reductionist summary:

“Rather than work forward from a technology or a complex strategy, work backward from the needs of the customers and build the simplest product possible.”

If you’ve been in tech the last few years – and especially in Silicon Valley – you won’t have escaped the term “Minimum Viable Product” (MVP), and you’ve undoubtedly been immersed in Agile development methodology. But there’s a dilemma in the seductive notion of Lean and MVP when misapplied: We all have seen teams who focus on the alluring idea of minimal without thinking about what will make the product viable from the standpoint of the customer: Across industries, we’ve seen that the “work backward from the needs of the customers” part is easy to miss in the rush to produce efficient code and quick deliverables.

This occasional lack of customer orientation has led to the backlash observation that “Agile doesn’t have a brain,” meaning it’s very good a producing efficiently, but not guaranteed to produce the right end products in the eyes of customers. We in tech have all seen this happen, and it’s vexing because it’s against the core principles of Agile to produce un-useful end deliverables.

Enter author Jeff Gothelf, an ardent evangelist for Lean and MVP thinking. Jeff is author of the excellent book Lean UX, and recently wrote about this “Agile doesn’t have a brain” topic in a really interesting post on the subject.

Jeff is working with us on some upcoming talks and a workshop, and in addition to what he says in the post above, brings some good advice for including design and customer thinking to the MVP debate:

  • Work “Lean” on projects, and focus relentlessly on the customer in your process and measures
  • Focus on user-driven metrics to understand how you’re doing 
  • Make sure designers and other key non-coding disciplines are in your agile sprints — they will add efficiency and dimension, helping to make sure the “right things” are being produced
  • Think “team,” not “roles” within the sprints (at Cisco, we even do this in Marketing sprints).
  • Most important: Transform from a culture of delivery to a culture of learning, where you are constantly tuning and improving based on end objectives and customer needs.

If you’re new to ideas of incorporating the customer-oriented design into MVP and Lean, I recommend Jeff’s book Lean UX.  And, as a bonus, there’s a great video overview he recently gave at Google on some of these topics.

Enjoy!

LeanUXBookPicture

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The eStore Vision Has Become a Reality! A Single Storefront for IT Services

Today’s blog post is by a guest author, Adel du Toit, who is currently spearheading the effort by Cisco’s internal IT organization to deliver IT-as-a-Service internally, dubbed the Cisco IT “eStore.” Recently, the eStore team took home multiple awards, you can read more about that here. (If you’re not familiar with the eStore, be sure to check out my other blog posts regarding the eStore here and here.)

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Over the last few months I had to take a few steps back and admire the passion and dedication of the team as our Vision is starting to become a reality.  For those less familiar with the Cisco IT eStore, have a look at the latest customer case study here. You can also check out the demo video below:

In the last few months the eStore team has delivered IT services, to any device, simply, while achieving broad adoption while showcasing Cisco as the #1 IT Company thanks to Cisco Prime Service Catalog, which is the underlying foundation for our end-user storefront interface.

Delivered IT services:

We have 2 ways of delivering IT services and apps.  In estore.cisco.com employees can find the IT services that one needs to order from a desktop or laptop computer. As for mobile devices, employees can go to eStore for Mobile to install the apps he or she needs to stay productive whilst on the go.

Today we have nearly 290 IT services and mobile apps that our users can choose from:

1

To Any Device:

It is important to embrace BYOD and at Cisco we live this every day. It was important that the store we created could be used by any device.

Below is a breakdown of the device types that have accessed both eStore over the last 6 months.

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User experience is important to us and we wanted to make sure that the store provides a similar experience to what you would expect when shopping at Amazon or eBay, for example. 

In both our mobile and web interface we have the ability to surface the apps and services most needed by our end users:

desktop

The Cisco IT eStore (Desktop Version)

mobile  The Cisco IT eStore (on iOS mobile)

Adding spotlight content and recommendations is important to help with findability and user experience.  This was made possible by the latest release of Cisco Prime Service Catalog, which introduced a next-generation user interface and powers the storefront that the eStore is built on. Be sure to check out Phillipe’s post on the latest release here.

 

Achieving broad adoption…

One of the most recently added features in the internal Cisco IT eStore has been the addition of desktop software for employees to download. Going forward, we expect to see around 20k unique visitors a month ordering Desktop Software from eStore.  For the first time we will have a single, unified platform for both Mac and Windows users to install their software from.

In addition, during our Global Sales Conference (GSX) in Las Vegas in late August we had the requirements to support 18,000 Sales users downloading the recommended mobile apps during the event.  We had to be ready to surface the apps, but also support 18k users downloading the event app in a 15 minute period!

Lots of long hours and planning later, we made sure that all of this happened seamlessly, here are a few statistics from the event:

–       89% of the GSX attendees installed eStore for Mobile

–       During the event we had 5.4k average visits a day

–       81% of the attendees installed the GSX event app from the store

–       49% of the attendees also installed other apps in addition to downloading the event app

–       Very few support issues (less than 40 total!)

–       Our max CPU stayed below 12%

–       With an average load response time of 1.7 secs

5newer

If we take a step back and also look at our overall adoption for Q4, FY14 the numbers look very healthy.  Nearly 50k requisitions in the 3 months period from May to July 2014.

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…While showcasing Cisco as the #1 IT Company

IBA14_Gold_H

The Cisco eStore team is no stranger to awards, and we continue to add our trophy cabinet with our latest award, the Gold Stevie Winner for Information Technology Team of the Year. For more information on the latest awards, be sure to check out this blog post detailing all of the awards we won this year at the International Business Awards.

Want to learn more? We have a webinar coming up on October 8th at 8 am PDT where we will discuss best practices for delivering Enterprise IT-as-a-Service, and delve deeper into the latest developments in both the Cisco IT eStore and Cisco Prime Service Catalog. You can register here.

Thanks for reading. For more info be sure to follow us on Twitter @CiscoIT to learn more about the Cisco IT eStore, and follow @CiscoUM for the latest info on Prime Service Catalog.

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