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Converging Communications in the Cloud

Cloud, Cloud, Cloud and… Cloud!!  There has been much justified excitement about the Cloud and the benefits that it can provide. XaaS is here to stay with everything from HR systems to CRMs launching multi-billion dollar transformations in the way business is done.

Within Cisco, we are in the middle of an exciting transformation of our own internal Digital services and platforms with the Cloud revolution as a backdrop. The work is exciting, and daunting, as it spans across multiple Communication and Marketing capabilities that will ultimately be consumed by our customers, partners and employees.

Why?

Cisco already has a robust Digital Marketing and Communication capability.  For example, we just took 6th place in Byte Level’s Web Globalization Report Card in front of some very strong companies.

ByteLevel_2014

So, if things are going well, why put the effort in to changing it?

Jimit Arora has a nice summary in InformationWeek on some of the factors around successful Enterprise Cloud adoption. He points to looking at cloud through the “lens of agility, competitiveness, not cost” and giving people a “compelling reason” to step out of their comfort zone.

In our industry, sitting on your laurels results in quickly being passed.  It’s critical for us to be constantly improving how we do things and Cloud is providing a major opportunity to do just that.

Are we there yet?

Cisco is examining the opportunity from a capabilities point of view with an eye towards consolidating and converging areas that exist for both internal and external use. The line between what’s inside and outside of a large Enterprise has been gradually fading since… well, since the advent of the internet.  As we tick off each capability we want to enable, there are many examples where we are already ‘there’ and have been for awhile. For example, when Cisco acquired WebEx Communications in 2007, we quickly became their largest consumer of cloud-based Communication services and we remain one of WebEx’s top ‘customers’ by volume today. As a Cisco employee, I use the same service that our customers use and we use it both inside and outside the firewall without giving it a second thought.

Another area of where we are pretty much ‘there’, is with our video capability. Using both 3rd party and Cisco technologies like TelePresence, we are able to move video seamlessly to customers, partners and employees as needed.  We demonstrated this capability in a dramatic way during the Cisco CloudVerse launch in 2011. We went so far as to combine a major internal event, our Company Meeting, with a live external broadcast to industry analysts and the press.

However, there are number capabilities that remain an opportunity for Cisco. One area where the improvements could be dramatic is in eliminating needless divisions between internal and external in the content management and delivery space. The lines between what goes to a customer, partner or employee should simply be a matter of policy and not a matter of digital capabilities or infrastructure.

There will certainly be cost savings around the re-use of internal content for external consumption, but the main benefit will once again be around agility.  Imagine the possibilities of a simplified architecture where content and new innovative capabilities can be delivered simultaneously to anyone within the broader corporate ecosystem. Getting the right content, to the right person, just-in-time has long been the promise of Digital and that will be greatly accelerated by a converged, cloud-based communication architecture.

If you find yourself within a large Enterprise examining Cloud-based Digital Marketing and Communication capabilities from the IT or Business perspective, I would love to hear your thoughts on the opportunities and challenges in the space.

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Four Things That Will Rock Video Collaboration in 2014

It’s Hard to believe we’re already in February 2014. It seems like just yesterday we were making cloud collaboration predictions for 2013– forecasting that cloud and the demand for interoperability would drive innovation and help businesses harness the power of video.

Well, 2013 saw all of that and more happen in the world of collaboration. And I predict there will be more from the cloud, as well as other smart, cool and exciting video innovations in our (near) future.

Here’s what I predict is on the horizon:

Communications will be ever more visual, so you’ll use video with more people and in more situations – and cloud makes it more accessible.

The 2014 workforce isn’t a sedentary group – it’s mobile, global and social. And people won’t move for jobs anymore–jobs will become more flexible for people. I know. I manage a globally dispersed team and on any given day find myself visiting China and the United States, all from my office in Norway. Adaptive, intuitive and connected video solutions will continue to allow an innovative and collaborative workplace experience that can be accessed anywhere – from the boardroom to the browser. This year, the cloud will continue to empower workers with access to video anytime, anywhere and on any device, including new environments and use cases such as “always on,” real-time collaboration in research labs and lectures in global classrooms.

2014 will be the year that business quality video is expected by consumers during their online business interactions. We’ll see video solutions used extensively in Read More »

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Cisco Enterprise Networking News – Friday Roundup

I wanted to share a few fun things that happened / I learned this week and note what’s coming next.

Apologies to Hyperbole & a Half
Image via MemeMaker

1. In the last few days we had a not one but two webinars this week, but you can FIND ALL THE WEBINARS if you want.

2.  We’ve had a few great guest posts recently, too:

3. A funny video on the importance of planing your 802.11ac: Read More »

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Corporate Video Enhances Your Communication Strategy: “The Ordinary Message in Extraordinary Ways”

I dare you not to communicate. Go ahead, I dare you. Try it. Try not to reach over to your smartphone. Try not to open a new e-mail. Try not to type a quick instant message. Try…

My point is you can’t not communicate. Yes, I realize the blaring double negative, but it’s true! Communication is innate to our being. It’s one of the many fascinating things that make us human. We communicate—all the time, every time, about everything.

This desire to communicate is no more apparent than in the workplace.

Let’s face it, we all have a lot of work to do that requires the minds of many talented people; and so we not only want to communicate, but we need to communicate. Whether you are setting up conference calls for team communication or rolling out a mass e-mail to inform your company of a major development, you have a message to share, you have something to say.

And while war room meetings, telephone conversations, written e-mails and newsletters are tried and true methods for getting your message out there, video proves to be one of the fastest growing communication platforms. In his 2014 recap of CES for The New York Times, Nick Bilton writes, “Ooyala, a mobile research firm that collects data on the viewing habits of 200 million online video watchers, reports video consumption on smartphones and tablets continued to rise rapidly through 2013.”

Even more compelling—100 million Internet users watch an online video every day according to Sarah Mincher’s blog for DigitalSherpa.com. It’s a no brainer—corporate video should be at the forefront of our communication strategy. Why? Because corporate video is efficient, both collaborative and interactive, and most importantly, it’s connective and engaging.

First and foremost, corporate video provides efficiency.

Take for example a major product launch. Let’s pretend you need to share with both customers and your employees new developments in your product offerings. Have a look at how Cisco promoted its latest ACI roll out:

You lock down a conference room large enough to cram a few hundred people inside to recap the key points of your announcement, but how do you get that message to people based in different parts of the world? Do you fly out to each country to deliver the same presentation? Seems costly. Do you schedule multiple sessions to accommodate everyone’s schedule? Seems time consuming. However, recording that session and making it available for your team to watch on their own time allows for a cost effective and efficient solution. The beauty of corporate video communication is its reach. Video knows no limits—whether your audience is small or large, local or international, readily available or challenging to schedule, a video can get your message to its intended target.

Furthermore, corporate video communication is collaborative and interactive.

It takes a lot of talented people to produce and green light a video. Rarely is corporate video the creation of a single visionary. Instead, it requires a team effort to create a unique concept, to plan a realistic execution, and to mold the final piece. Check out how Cisco University Careers highlights the Finance Rotation Program for career seekers:

The collaboration of content experts, producers, directors, editors, and many more improves the chances of getting your message across successfully. Your bases are better covered as multiple people view your video to provide insight and feedback that you may not have considered.

And in the off chance that your corporate video slightly missed the mark? No worries, your audience is going to tell you why it didn’t work and likely explain what they would have wished to see; because video communication is not only collaborative in making, but interactive in its distribution. Often, we share our corporate video communication on interactive platforms—think YouTube or internal websites—sites where people can leave comments, rate content, and provide feedback.

Sounds like a scary invitation for critique? No! Think of it as market research, audience analysis, metrics that will help you to better craft and hone your communication strategy.

Finally, corporate video is connective and engaging.

It connects people to people, to narratives, and to engaging discussions that they wouldn’t necessarily have access to in their ordinary workday. Watch how Cisco CEO John Chambers invites and welcomes thousands of attendees to Cisco Live!:

In fact, 75% of executives watch work related videos at least once per week according to DigitalSherpa.com. This is especially important for those major corporations where thousands of employees dispersed all over the world must find some way to stay connected to the heart of their company’s mission. It’s easy to get tunnel vision when it comes to our work, to focus on what we need to do to be successful as an individual, and to assume that everyone else is aware of our tasks. However, we are one of many, and corporate video helps to keep us accessible to one another.

I once had a client ask me if I’d ever seen our CEO in person. At first I thought she was joking, as I assumed everyone must bump into him at some point in their career. However, she further explained that she’d only seen him in videos, and like a ton of bricks I became hyper aware of the importance of corporate videos. How would some of the employees of a global corporation “see” their international colleagues, their CEO, and their executives without corporate video? I was reminded of the many communication opportunities corporate video provides employees as things like company-wide broadcasts or streamed conventions allow thousands to watch their leaders have discussions, introduce new strategies, celebrate accomplishments, and work through challenges. I began to wonder if a company as large as Cisco could maintain a sense of unity, pride, and success without the connectivity provided by corporate video?

Luckily, corporate video will continue to grow as employees and customers look for collaborative, interactive, engaging and efficient ways to connect people to their messages.

Ah, but at what cost you ask. We’ll tackle that issue in a future blog.

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Executing on Virtualization

With all the talk around virtualization in our industry, it’s easy to get a bit confused.  Between our industry’s love of acronyms and passionate evangelism of technological specs, it can be far too difficult at times to determine what’s really important, what is real, and what is just talk.  Our announcement of the Cisco Evolved Services Platform today is meant to address these very points.  It represents the progress we’ve made on our provider virtualization strategy and, unlike many others in the industry, orients the talk of virtualization around real business benefits and customer deployments.

The Evolved Services Platform represents a fundamental shift in the way service provider networks will be built.  It not only has the industry’s broadest, most comprehensive range of virtualized functions, but it also orchestrates them to create, automate and provision services in real time, across compute, storage and network functions across the entire architecture.  As the middle layer of the Cisco ONE SP architecture which works in conjunction with the infrastructure layer – the Evolved Programmable Network which we announced in September – the ESP ensures the right type of experience for subscribers regardless of how or where they connect to the network.  And it does this while also delivering both significant operational cost savings and the ability to more easily and quickly pursue new revenue generating opportunities.  In essence, the ESP does the equivalent for a service provider business as a retail storefront, factory, and tool kit would do for a manufacturer. It allows them to “manufacture” network experiences quickly, efficiently, and in a customized manner.

Those experiences can be many and span the entire provider’s existing services portfolio, plus an ever increasing array of new services that are now or will be possible in Internet of Everything.  But to help keep the business orientation of this announcement, we’re announcing the first two service modules, complete with business models that can help quantify the benefits to the providers that are interested in or already deploying them: Read More »

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