Cisco Blogs

Collaboration: The Next Frontier

August 25, 2007 - 1 Comment

Unless you’ve been living on the edge of the world -which, IMHO, would be the Hotel Eilean Iarmain on the Isle of Skye in Scotland; one of the most breathtaking views in the world as you look out across the Sound of Sleat (but I digress) -for the last six months, you may have picked up that we think collaboration will drive innovation, productivity and growth in the industry for the next decade.Collaboration, however, is a difficult thing to pin down as it means many things to many people. John Chambers, our chairman and CEO, points out we actually started down this path nearly six years ago when we began the shift from a corporate management style based on command-and-control to one centered on teamwork and collaboration. Initially, it was a very difficult transition for us because it was a significant change in company culture and process. We get better and better at it with each passing quarter, but it took time, patience and a willingness to get out of our comfort zone.So it is now with the transition to collaboration tools and applications that many businesses have been undertaking. Consumers have been using collaboration tools for years, and those same expectations and efficiencies they’ve experienced at home are now being expected in the workplace. Businesses have started to adopt these tools, but as we discovered firsthand six year ago, acceptance and usage doesn’t happen overnight. For adoption to be truly successful, the underlying business process or model must change in many cases. As John has noted in the past, there is a set of key characteristics that must be part of any successful collaboration strategy: it must be converged, virtual, open, safe and simple.We strongly believe in this philosophy and have taken some bold steps to invest in this space. We acquired WebEx. We developed a leading edge collaborative tool in TelePresence. We formed a new business unit, the Collaboration Software Group. We are building an internal Cisco Center of Excellence centered around these tools and capabilities so we can learn how to adopt, use and leverage these resources. We will then, in turn, pass this knowledge and experience onto our customers so they can learn from our successes and failures.Our biggest challenge in this transition won’t be the technology, however. Or the tools themselves. It will be in the changes required in culture and behavior. We are creatures of habit. Breaking out of them can be very difficult, even when we know that new thing out there is better, faster or stronger. Leading by example is oftentimes the best approach. We intend to do just that for our customers.At C-Scape as well as the months leading up it, you will be hearing more about our emerging strategy in the collaboration space. I heard a rumor that one or two of you might be interested in that…

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  1. One of the concerns that I have surrounds the corporate level of understanding about Web 2.0 and how these tools are being deployed. I think or at least hope that everyone within Cisco understands the need and desire of Web 2.0 implementation, but how do we find out more on the nuts and bolts of these issues? What tools will be amongst tommorrows suite of options?It is never too late to consider change but how can the users make sure that they are working on the same timeline as the IT department. I feel that there is some confusion around this matter because the comfort level with new technologies is varied.Do you have any suggestions on where I might go to get some of these types of answers?ThanksC-