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Innovation is key to becoming a ‘people-centric’ business

When I think of “Inclusion and Diversity”, I automatically think about creating a diverse and inclusive workforce environment: providing all employees with learning and development opportunities, ensuring employees with disabilities have the right tools and resources and educating all employees on how to work with people with disabilities, sending out regular communications on techniques for how to strengthen inclusion and diversity in the workplace and so forth.

Reading this article from UTalkMarketing.com this morning over a cup of coffee made me question my own definition of “Inclusion and Diversity.” I came to the conclusion that my view on this subject was far too narrow – I was focussing on it from a purely internal perspective and needed to think outside of the box and include an external perspective too. Inclusion and Diversity isn’t just about making your diverse workforce feel included; it’s also about ensuring that your customers feel included AND that their voices and their business needs lie at the heart of your business.

The author of this article, Chris Beswick, argues that businesses need to develop a relationship with their customers, look at the world from their perspective and appreciate the problems they face and the things they aspire to. Instead of focussing on their own products and services, businesses need to put greater focus on their customers’ problems and tensions – it’s not “what you do”, i.e. what you sell; what you provide, but rather “how you do it”, i.e. how you fuel innovation and differentiation.

Yet Beswick argues that true customer-centricity is only possible if you first become people-centric. In his words the only way you can provide an exceptional end-to-end customer experience is to ensure that everyone in your organisation understands how to collaborate on solving your customers’ problems.

How do you extend Inclusion and Diversity to your customers? Share your thoughts below.

Do you have an Inclusion and Diversity story to share? Please send it to idblog@cisco.com.

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Customer Collaboration – the Bigger Picture

Nearly a year ago some of you began hearing about exciting developments in customer care at Cisco, as we began sharing our vision for Customer Collaboration, which empowers businesses to take a more personal, proactive approach to customer care.  Since then we have delivered on the promise of Customer Collaboration, launching three ground-breaking new products last November--Cisco SocialMiner, Cisco MediaSense, and Cisco Finesse.

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Cisco Industrial Intelligence liberates the Factory

Introducing Cisco Industrial Intelligence.  Neither James Bond gone corporate nor Cisco gone espionage, Industrial Intelligence is the enabling of business enterprises and municipalities to more intelligently and responsively manage industrial operations globally, and it’s one of Cisco’s latest adjacencies as part of the Borderless Networks solutions portfolio.  Having IP-data and control flows converged with voice, video and virtualization creates a more intelligent platform for innovations that connect devices to measure, monitor, and manage resources for greater efficiencies, to connect people in less time and space, and to connect ideas that generate solutions to today’s industrial, operational and environmental challenges.

Chet Namboodri talks about how the Cisco Industrial Intelligence solution can help to improve operational efficiency, safety, agility, and use of assets.

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In Collaboration, the network matters

The network matters. Without it many of the devices and applications we use in our daily lives would not be available. Without the right quality, they would not be attractive or usable. This holds true for voice, data, and video networks, and even more so for converged networks.

At Cisco our approach is to make the network a platform for experiences. When a functionality is better handled out of the device or application, because of optimization or capacity concerns, we make it available in the network. When devices or applications come with new capabilities, we make sure the network recognizes them and makes them available end to end.

This simple philosophy is very far reaching, and we are seeing its benefits with Medianet. It is easy to understand why auto-configuration, call admission control for video, and session recording, just to pick a few, are services which enable multiple applications while maintaining consistency and allowing optimal use of the network capabilities and bandwidth.

A few weeks ago at Cisco’s Collaboration Summit we announced new solutions. They all drive value from the network, including VXI, the Virtual Experience Infrastructure. In very novel ways, Cisco is aiming at making virtualization easier, and delivering a better user experience at a lower cost. This is what the Cisco network is all about.

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6 Ways to Protect Your Voice Data

Minimize data loss due to security threats by making sure you have the right measures in place

A couple weeks ago, Dawn Brister discussed the four most common threats to your IP phone system. Now that you know what the risks are, it’s time talk about how to protect your voice-over-IP (VoIP) network.

VoIP offers plenty of benefits to small businesses; unfortunately, it also presents many opportunities for hackers to cause harm to your voice network. IP-based voice networks are vulnerable to the same risks as data networks. But you can use many of the same security techniques and technologies for your VoIP network that you may already be using on your data network.

The Information Systems Control Journal of ISACA, an independent association that provides education on information systems assurance and security, has a useful article about security within VoIP networks.

Following are six tips for securing your VoIP network and voice data:

  • Lock up your servers: As with your servers and other central IT equipment, make sure your VoIP servers are under lock and key.
  • Encrypt voice traffic: To avoid unauthorized access to calls and unauthorized changes to voice messages and other VoIP content, encrypt your voice traffic. All good VoIP systems should have built-in encryption capabilities to protect against such threats as man-in-the-middle attacks and unauthorized snooping of voice data.
  • Install firewalls: Since VoIP traffic and data traffic all travel on the same physical network, protecting your data network helps protect your VoIP network. For example, the Cisco SA500 Series Security Appliances and Unified Communications 500 Series have security features to protect the entire network, both voice and data traffic, and use VLANs to virtually separate the two traffic flows from each other on the same physical network.
  • Separate voice and data traffic: The ISACA Journal article recommends using separate servers for your voice and data traffic. This way, you can minimize the risk of voice and data loss in the event that your business is the target of a distributed-denial-of-service attack.
  • Filter unauthorized traffic: Configure your switches, routers and firewalls to monitor and filter your network for unusual voice and data activities. For example, voice traffic should not be allowed on your data network and vice versa.
  • Setup dial plans and user profiles: You can use VoIP system features to identify users, the type of calls being made and restrict unwanted traffic, such as outbound international calls. Traffic limits can also be set to ensure call quality and maximum voice and data network performance.  These features can also be set to log caller activities and events.

In addition to these measures, you should also put strong passwords in place for your VoIP servers. You should also make sure you to sign up for updates to your VoIP server operating system from the manufacturer. These updates often fix security vulnerabilities that may have been found in the software and should be installed as soon as you receive the alerts.

Following these steps should protect your voice data and ensure that your VoIP network runs smoothly. What measures have you employed to secure your VoIP network?

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