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My Job Moves with me Anywhere I Go

In the last five years I have moved from Siberia to San Francisco, to Berkeley, to San Jose, to Phoenix, and now to Minneapolis. Unlike most people, moving so many times almost feels like a privilege to me. My husband and I have been able to explore the “sparkle” of Silicon Valley. We enjoyed Phoenix during the not-so-hot months. And now we are in Minneapolis where every day of summer seems like the 4th of July. (I might not be bragging in January when its -30 degrees. But hey, I’m trying to tell myself that it’s healthy for the soul to endure a Winter Wonderland in the U.S. Midwest.)

There are many reasons why we’ve had to relocate so often. Whether I moved to be closer to the beach, the snow, or family — or due to a tragedy — I’m glad that my personal life did not impact my professional life. Aside from constant packing, unpacking, and doing the legwork of finding housing – I don’t know what I would do if I also had to start and restart the process of finding a job.

I have worked for Cisco a little more than two years now. Throughout my transitions, my responsibilities have changed only slightly. Surprisingly, my productivity and efficiency have increased thanks to my new, liberated perspective of work.

South Long Lake_MN_OK3My job moves with me anywhere I go. As long as I have an internet connection, I can work from my home office, my backyard, a restaurant, a coffee shop, or even on my family’s boat. My laptop and smartphone are the only devices I need to be fully functional.  And Cisco tools such as Jabber, WebEx, and now Spark (a team collaboration solution) allow me to collaborate with my colleagues across continents.

If I need to join an important meeting with executives or managers, I have a DX70 desktop endpoint for better audio and video quality. If I have a meeting with local colleagues, we can use room systems like MX800 or IX5000 in a Cisco office. It has been fun to explore the differences between the Cisco offices in Phoenix, San Jose, and Bloomington, Minnesota. (Hmm, I think next year I should visit the Cisco office in New Zealand.) Read More »

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Take Productivity to New Heights

Getting Value from Improving Internal Communications

In my previous post, I considered how better access to information can save time, reach many more people, and create a happier, more engaged workforce. All these benefits flow from improving your organization’s internal communications.

In-person meetings are effective, but with today’s increasing reliance on mobility, remote workers, and distributed teams, it can be prohibitively costly to bring teams together. Not just from travel costs, but lost productivity too.

We need more effective ways to collaborate.

  • 86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures according to Clear Company HRM.
  • 50% of business productivity is tied to effective collaboration, according to CEB.
  • Cisco generates $250 million (US) in travel savings per year using video

With globally dispersed teams, it’s not enough to rely on email and chats on video. Fast access to secure, collaborative video content across dispersed teams is paramount.

Video, audio, instant messaging, and clouds have come together to offer the right solution to enterprises. The ingredients for success are operational efficiency, employee effectiveness, and customer experiences. And all these need a focus on connecting people and technology.

You can realize substantial value if you do it right and eliminate the potential for miscommunication.

But how do you do it? Read More »

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Which Collaboration Applications Are Right for Me?

As a member of the Sales Engineer Organization,  I spend lots of my time staying close to midsized customers observing how teams that do great work are leveraging applications to collaborate.   The number of choices available can make choosing the right tools an interesting journey.

Is there one solution to meet all needs? Midmarket organizations face these questions.   As I talked to several midsized companies this past year, I heard how improving team productivity is top of mind.  Keeping employees connected across their various workplace resources and devices is increasingly important.  Making customers happy with proactive service and quick response times is paramount to an organization’s success.

In the world of collaboration, consider the parallels between how online meetings and physical meetings take place.  Don’t you find it to be more effective to have the right setting for the meetings you attend in person?  A large group in a small space never works right.

For example, with physical meetings:

  • Large groups require large spaces, structured seating, the ability to share media, and the ability for participants to interact with presenters.
  • Fast moving small teams need rooms that are available on-demand and the ability to do real-time content tracking.

One-to-one interactions require privacy and rich-media sharing with the ability to call in additional participants as needed.

blog midmarket 2015 Read More »

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On-Demand Video Can Transform the Way our Police Departments Train

While we most often think of the Internet of Everything (IoE) as transforming public safety forces out in the field, change can actually begin before an officer is even leaves the station. Classroom training for officers is crucial, enabling them to stay safe and perform at the highest level out in the field. Current events highlight just how important good training is, ensuring officers know how to act in all situations and act as good example of public safety in their communities. The problem is that police officers work on shift schedules, which makes it extremely difficult to get everyone in the same room at the same time for training.

How do police departments guarantee their officers are trained at the highest level despite this scheduling issue? Video training. Police departments and training officers can use video to produce high-quality educational training tools that can be viewed online at an officer’s convenience. On-demand video recording tools like Cisco’s WebEx are straightforward and easy to use, and allow educational materials to be accessed anywhere via the cloud. These on-demand video presentations help make sure everyone is receiving the same level of training, improving the way public safety agencies operate before anyone even steps foot in the field.

Here are four more benefits that stem from on-demand videos for classroom training:

1. Reduce the need for trainers to be physically present at all classroom trainings

It’s still extremely important for police departments to conduct live training exercises. But by replacing classroom sessions with video training, training officers’ time is freed up to focus more on live training exercises. This makes certain officers are still receiving the training they need while helping departments operate more efficiently.

2. Eliminate the burden of shift scheduling to accommodate training

Juggling day and night shifts with training schedules is a hassle. Agency leaders have to analyze staffing, pull people off regular shifts, fill those spots with other agents and often have to pay overtime to do so. It also involves paying trainers to be onsite for multiple days. Video training allows officers to stay on their regularly-scheduled shifts, preventing the confusion and difficulty of shifting schedules and allowing officers to access training videos at a time that is convenient for them.

Read More »

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World, Meet Thor – a Project to Hammer Out a Royalty Free Video Codec

Video codecs remain an area of active research and development. The current generation video codec is H.264 – in widespread usage on the Internet. Cisco has actively worked towards making H.264 the foundation of real-time communications on the web. The next generation codecs are just beginning to emerge. There are two of note – Google’s proprietary VP9 codec, and the industry standard H.265 (HEVC) codec, which is the successor to H.264 (AVC).

Unfortunately, the patent licensing situation for H.265 has recently taken a turn for the worse. Two distinct patent licensing pools have formed so far, and many license holders are not represented in either. There is just one license pool for H.264. The total costs to license H.265 from these two pools is up to sixteen times more expensive than H.264, per unit. H.264 had an upper bound on yearly licensing costs, whereas H.265 has no such upper limit.

These licensing terms preclude usage of H.265 in any kind of open source or freely distributed software application, such as web browsers. They also preclude its usage in freemium products – like WebEx or Cisco Spark – which have versions that users can use for free. Thus, while H.265 is still a good fit for hardware products like our telepresence room systems, it is not something that can serve as a universal video codec across hardware and software. Thus, we believe the industry needs a high quality, next-generation codec that can be used everywhere. Read More »

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