Cisco and Google, two strategic technology partners to 21st Century Fox, announced a new era of the partnership on the future of collaboration. Paul Cheesbrough, CTO at 21st Century Fox, interviewed me and David Thacker, Vice President of Product Management at Google, to find out more about the announcement. Here’s our conversation:
Paul: It’s such a small world, tell me how you both know each other.
Amy: David and I have known one another for 13 years now! We literally sat about five feet from one another for years at Google. The first week I got there, they asked me to review this crazy project and David helped me through it.
David: I remember that, and we are both from Austin, Texas, too.
Amy: Yes! We have that in common as well. So we just kept in touch. Neither of us had kids back then, and now there are four children running around the world. It’s crazy.
Paul: So much has happened since then. Amy, you started Accompany – still my favorite app by the way – and that business was very recently acquired by Cisco. You now head up their $5B Collaboration business. Congratulations. David, you worked at Greylock, Groupon, and Linkedin before returning to Google. It’s fair to say you’ve both seen a broad spectrum of change in the technology industry. Tell me what excites each of you about your current roles?
David: For me, it’s the impact Google is having around the world. We have over a billion people using our applications. The importance and impact these products have on people’s lives, personal or professional, motivates me.
Amy: Paul, for me, it’s the opportunity to make every meeting, every interaction, as close to face to face as it could possibly be. It’s about using technology to bring that human connection back into the workplace.
Paul: It feels like a combination of these factors. Basically, easy-to-use collaboration at scale is really at the heart of what you’re focusing this partnership on. How do you see this space playing out over the coming years?
David: The world is moving toward video conferencing in the professional context, and there’s no reason every meeting shouldn’t be a video meeting. At Google, every room in the company is built out with conferencing equipment. It just changes the nature of meetings. The second big change is that people want to work from anywhere, whether it’s from home, the airport, the road, or from the office. It’s really important that they have the tools that allow them to collaborate wherever they are with their colleagues.
Amy: I could not agree more. I would add that very soon, people are going to expect more contextual information to be served up to them. For every meeting and interaction, they will expect to be presented with all the relevant bits without having to go hunting for them. This is critical because the more context you have at your fingertips, the faster you can make decisions. This is the future of work.
Paul: It really does feel that this is long overdue – and I certainly think that the intersect of contextual information with some of these best-in-class tools could unlock a ton more value inside most enterprises. So, tell me about the deepening Cisco+Google partnership announced yesterday. What can customers expect to see from this?
Amy: Yes! We are committed to building a more streamlined, integrated, and intelligent experience when using our combined products. Here’s an example: Through our native integrations, a Google Calendar user can join a Webex meeting from any device, including a Cisco video endpoint, with a single click. The experience is fast, high quality, and consistently stress-free. Content creation is faster and more collaborative through co-authoring documents, made seamlessly with beautiful crisp, clear audio and video. Then after you hang up, the meeting transcription, summary, and actions are right there integrated into the Webex Teams experience. It all just works beautifully together.
David: I’d echo that. Within G Suite, one of our hallmarks is simplicity. Everything should be easy for a user to use, and for an administrator, it’s easy to deploy and maintain. Consumer simplicity combined with enterprise reliability is paramount.
Paul: I’m a firm believer in this integrated model – where best in class tools play well together, so this is great to hear. When deployed in the right way, end users are way more productive and get a far better experience. How far down the road are you with the integration that’s required to make this a reality?
Amy: We have already started. Our teams have been hard at work defining a phased set of releases to deliver this simplicity and intelligence. The first phase covers some of the most asked for integrations we heard from users. Calendar and Webex are now integrated, which is big for our users. Enhanced Android SDKs are making it easier than ever for developers to embed Cisco Calling, Meeting, and Messaging into their Android apps. Jabber is now supported on Chromebooks and Google AI integrations with Cisco Contact Center solutions for improved customer experiences. It’s all about making our portfolios work together without customers even having to think about it.
David: And for phase two, we’re targeting tighter G Suite and Drive integrations with Webex Teams. We’re also jointly exploring transcription, translation, and other AI opportunities in the meeting space. There is so much that we can do and we are excited to do it.
Paul: This sounds great, and I guess it’s really just the beginning. It’s fantastic to see such established enterprise players like Cisco and Google working in this way. This combination and augmentation of intelligence inside the productivity tools that already sit within many enterprises will have such a positive impact on productivity and collaboration. Over time, as you build further upon this and extend it into other areas, it could truly be transformational to many enterprises.
Amy: I think that’s perfect, that’s exactly what we are doing. Both our companies care deeply about our customers. We actually listen to them. We want to know what is going to be useful. We will try to stay out ahead so that we are giving them what they want. If we could be doing better, we’re all ears.
Read the news release on the Cisco Newsroom.
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