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Cisco IT’s Playbook for Ensuring a Pervasive User Experience

User experience (UX) is a strategic priority at Cisco IT. In fact, improving user experience is incorporated into our IT Vision, Strategy, and Execution statement. When we talk about user experience, we raise the importance of better UX design, a better user interface, and the ability to make it pervasive. But, what we are really trying to establish is a cultural change as to how we approach this strategic priority. That is the bottom line. How can we make it part of our DNA and embed it in our operating model? Read More »

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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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