Cisco Blogs

Collaboration is Hot … Very Hot: What is Collaboration?

October 22, 2010 - 2 Comments


Picking up on my last blog, I’d like to delve into the topic of:  “what is collaboration?”

We’ve defined enterprise collaboration as a consolidation of four key elements:

  1. Connecting the right people, resources and content at the same time
  2. Communicating more effectively and efficiently
  3. Collaborating internally and externally
  4. Learning from all

I’ve said before that, for Cisco, collaboration is defined as “social networking meets work.”  It isn’t about collaboration just for the sake of collaborating.  It’s about understanding the behaviors of people who are already using social technologies to communicate and to share information – and bringing all of that into the enterprise.  Enterprise collaboration is where we use social technologies to optimize critical business processes.

From an IT perspective, we need to embrace what’s happening – embrace, but filter at the same time. The consumerization of IT is happening and it would be silly to ignore it. We have to figure out what’s important and what’s appropriate in the business world.  Again, it’s not just about collaborating — it’s about determining which behaviors and which tools have real business relevancy inside the enterprise.

The end users might be saying they want Facebook and they want Twitter, but that’s not necessarily exactly what they want. What they really want are the capabilities. They want the user-friendly features and functionalities of social media, but they want them integrated and tied into their business systems.

We at Cisco realized we had to be more productive at work – and IT participates in  helping the company deliver growth and innovation. We’ve defined our collaboration solution as an “integrated workforce experience” or IWE, which is comprised of four elements. They include:

  • The integration of Cisco video communication and collaboration technologies (TelePresence, unified communications, Flip video, WebEx conferencing),
  • Enterprise social software (blogs, wikis, forums, instant messaging and communities),
  • Personalization and relevancy (search, content, workforce data, identity management, policy management and tagging)
  • Applications and services (transactional systems like HR and finance systems, business intelligence and CRM /ERP)

We realized we were on to something and, last year, began the effort to “product-ize” our collaboration software solution, now known as Cisco Quad. After months of hard work, IWE will be deployed powered by Cisco Quad next month to nearly 100,000 Cisco employees and contractors worldwide. And, we currently have about a half dozen customers using Cisco Quad collaboration software in an early field trials.

IWE will fully transform how we work, making us truly more efficient, more productive, help us grow and enable high performing teams. Global teams require robust, user-friendly technologies for sharing and disseminating information, quickly and securely. That’s where enterprise collaboration comes into the picture – when architected correctly it’s the glue that keeps the global enterprise from flying apart.

Next time I’ll focus on how our collaboration solution is differentiated from others.  And as always, let me know how collaboration is working in your own organization.

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  1. I love this definition of collaboration as “social networking meets work.” Not every social media wish needs to be granted at the enterprise level, but if we could harness the speed and viral nature of social media to implement change in the org, that would be great!

  2. Sheila. You’re right on with this post. When I started designing websites, I’d find out what the client wanted, then went ahead a created what they described, without collaborating with the clients as I designed their site. Big mistake. Now I not only collaborate throughout a project with a client, I have my graphics person join in our discussions. Collaborating is a win-win for everyone involved even in small scale projects.