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How Cisco Scored a Spot on TWiST

If you don’t know about the podcast series, This Week in Startups (TWiST), hosted by my friend Jason Calacanis, it’s worth checking out. Jason is a legendary investor and media mogul who has his fingers in every part of the tech industry. Each week, he brings CEOs, business founders, venture capitalists, angel investors, and tech experts into his San Francisco studio to talk about the latest trends and happenings inside the world of Silicon Valley and beyond.

I first met Jason around 10 years ago in Los Angeles. We were playing poker at a friend’s game. His brash poker playing style matches his approach to investing: nothing ventured, nothing gained. But unlike his approach to prospective business ventures, in poker, Jason never met a hand he didn’t like.

Since I’m part of this little startup Cisco, I got to be a guest on the show last week, episode 552. Jason invited me on to talk about entrepreneurship and how it’s been finding its way into big companies. We covered it all – DIY video conferencing, our new business messaging app Cisco Spark (and how he thinks we can monetize it), why John Chambers gave me a job, our theories on mergers and acquisitions, how AirBnB is improving lives, Uber pooling, Luxe, and, actually, a lot more.

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Collaboration Systems Release 11: Innovation and Integration for the Best Experience

If you’ve been following Cisco Collaboration, you know that we’re focused on the experience.  The whole experience:

  • Product experience for users
  • Sales and support experience for partners
  • Purchase, deployment, and management experience for administrators

The market continues to centralize on unification of voice; video; messaging and presence; conferencing; and extending communications to customer and team meeting environments. Delivering a unified experience becomes even more important.

To that end, we moved to time-based system releases as a way to align feature delivery across development teams. This also lets us provide clarity across our entire collaboration portfolio. About every six months, a Collaboration Systems Release (CSR) updates a large portion of the software powering the collaboration experience. Improvements reach from endpoints to mobile clients to voice and video infrastructure.

As we continue to innovate with new cloud-based offerings like Spark and developer tools like Tropo, systems releases become more important.  All our collaboration experiences are “unified” or integrated. And they’re becoming increasingly connected across premises and cloud. Read More »

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Video Collaboration and the Present Mom

“Mom, is there anything you don’t do well?” That came from Jaden, my twelve-year-old daughter, after a particularly arduous week tackling algebra and a To Kill a Mockingbird essay with a little help from me.

Clearly, I don’t do everything well, but the validation felt really good coming from a kid who I think is pretty extraordinary, herself. I might be slightly biased, but there’s enough evidence for extraordinary that some of my colleagues call me “Tiger Mom.” What they don’t know is that by Amy Chua standards, I would be a deadbeat mom since I only make my kids practice piano 30-45 minutes a day, and sometimes not everyday (gasp!).

Kim N and daughters 2All joking aside, I did ponder why I was the object of such adoration during a time when kids often retreat from their parents. And I believe it’s because I’m able to be around a lot and be present for my kids at their point of need. That’s because the collaboration tools that are essential to my productivity as an employee also give me the flexibility to work from home and still only be a video call away for my kids when I’m not.

The ability to be present at the point of struggle, at the point of discovery, at the point of accomplishment has been key to my close relationship with my children and in their development. But isn’t that true with just about any relationship? Don’t relationships with customers, partners and colleagues also flourish if you can be immediately present at their point of need?

The video collaboration technologies that are designed for faster decision-making, faster time to market and beating the competition are, in my world, really just about connecting people at their core. Read More »

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Collaboration Technologies Can Help Reduce Travel Costs Without Reducing Relationships

Did you know these corporate travel facts?

  • On average, companies spent more than 10% of their total annual budget on expenses related to business travel in 2014, according to Aberdeen.
  • Non-compliance with corporate travel policies is a top-three challenge for 57% of executives surveyed by Travelport.
  • Nearly 85% of respondents to the Travelport survey say rising airfares and hotel rates have negatively affected their corporate travel programs.

One of my favorite things in life is to travel and to explore new places. It’s inspiring and gives me perspective on different regions and lifestyles. That said, business travel can be a far cry from leisure travel.

It’s great to meet customers and partners, and I enjoy dinners with colleagues on the road. But when I travel, my work week gets jumbled by the diversion from my routine. Time changes, the lack of veggies in my diet, and missing my oh-so-comfy bed. There are times when we all have to meet in person. But business travel sometimes exacts a high cost from project deadlines and time-sensitive work.

Honestly, and I know I am not alone, spending time in security checkpoints, then sitting on a plane for hours trying to get comfortable and be productive can be a nuisance.

Travel itself is expensive. Read More »

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We’re Happy to Oblige

My biggest take-away from today’s set of announcements? Customers just cannot get enough of Cisco video collaboration products.

Our new Cisco TelePresence MX800 Dual, for example, was not a planned product. But after experiencing the vast, single 70-inch screen of the original MX800 (now called MX800 Single), customers told us they wanted more of that great experience. They wanted a dual-screen version. And enough of them said it that we had to oblige; hence, the MX800 Dual with two expansive 70-inch screens to show video and content equally and brilliantly.

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And not just dual screens, but dual cameras. What was once an option is now standard. The MX800 Dual is only available with the dual-camera, speaker-tracking system, because here again customers spoke. For the type of large rooms where the MX800 Dual is useful, dual cameras are required for the best visual experience. A single camera would only capture the full view of the room and participants would appear relatively small within it. Dual cameras bring the active speaker(s) full screen, basically giving everyone a front row seat and giving the meeting greater focus.

The MX800 Dual also comes to market with a few other notable enhancements that are enabled by the new Collaboration Endpoint Software 8.0 platform for Cisco room-based video systems. We are transitioning to this new software platform from what you may recall as the TC platform with TC 7.3 as the last release. The TC platform served us well for a long time, but the hardware that supported it was running out of processing power. We were forced to move to a new platform in order to continue to bring you the innovative features that you’ve come to expect from Cisco.

And innovate we did. Collaboration Endpoint Software 8.0 introduces these key new features: Read More »

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