#CiscoChat Recap: How Collaboration Can Help Digitize Your Business

July 29, 2016 - 4 Comments

The following is a guest post from Christopher Isak, founder of TechAcute.com, who joined us for a #CiscoChat on collaboration. We had a lively conversation with insightful contributions from around the Twittersphere. Check out his recap below and visit the Storify link to revisit the full conversation. It will be just like being there – almost.
Kim Austin

From Christopher Isak 
Collaboration is important. You need to collaborate. These are phrases often heard in the workplace, but the true value of collaboration can often get lost in translation. And how to go about properly implementing and executing is often not given the attention it deserves.

If you are a leader in your organization, what can you do? I was invited by Cisco to join a #CiscoChat on July 18 around the subject of collaboration. We had a great time discussing this minefield between innovation and change resistance. We had an amazing crowd and some really hard-hitting questions for the participants to answer. While there are usually no single right answers and no one-size-fits-all solutions, the participants had a great understanding of the balance between collaboration technology and methodology. Below are a few questions asked in the #CiscoChat with my personal thoughts on each topic.

What makes collaboration effective? 
I’ve seen many enterprises establishing projects for better collaboration, backed by the CEO and communicated from top to bottom. A collaboration platform should be used and backed by the organization’s leaders, but there should be no mandate. It needs to grow organically based on personal recommendations from users. Employees need to use collaboration platforms and feel that value is added to their work day, without strict structures and frameworks to restrict them. Leave the hierarchies flat, keep spaces open and available, and people will collaborate effectively.

Why must collaboration and security work hand-in-hand to enhance digitization?
The short answer to that is: Everything must be integrated with security. For instance, the world’s most innovative collaboration solution will get nowhere if it’s unsecure. Even if solutions are already deployed, enterprises are more likely to shut it down altogether than risk data leakage, intrusion or other types of cyberattacks.

It’s like Kim Austin from Cisco said in the #CiscoChat, “Collaboration was once with people at the next desk, now it’s global and between companies. Security is crucial.” Even the best idea won’t help you disrupt the market if it’s exposed all over the Internet years before you can bring it to a market-ready state.

How do you nurture a collaborative & digital culture in your workplace? 
Neither collaboration nor digitization can become a directive from management. If you try to push these subjects too hard, employees might develop a resistance against that type of culture.

The value of being collaborative and digital needs to be clear to everybody. Usually some early adopters will pick up “a new tool” or a “new way” of working. If the early adopters feel the value, they will share their experience and the “new way” will organically grow. Leaders should always lead by example and walk-the-walk, but let employees experiment on their own without direct instruction.

What does the future of digitization look like to you?
Technology, the Internet, IoT, all the devices in the world and all the infrastructure alone won’t make a difference single-handedly. As John Chambers said, “… infrastructure is the vehicle to get us there.” We need to prepare our children for the digital future, so it won’t become the digital dawn of mankind. We should frequently question and verify the subjects we are teaching our children in school and make sure they learn what will be relevant for them in the future.

STEM and technology subjects in particular need to play a stronger role in our education systems in my opinion. They need to be able to control, maintain and improve the technology which we have already designed and deployed in order for us to better live our lives. If current legacy occupations someday get replaced with artificial workers, our children need to be the ones who automate, not the ones who are being automated.

You know my opinion now, but there are many others with equally great or even better answers. Check them out in our Storify here, and learn why there’s never been a better time to collaborate and digitize by visiting Cisco’s collaboration site.

This post was sponsored by Cisco.

In an effort to keep conversations fresh, Cisco Blogs closes comments after 60 days. Please visit the Cisco Blogs hub page for the latest content.


  1. Collaboration by its nature is the collaboration of at least 2 subjects (people), 1 cannot collaborate. Thus it is organically needed that at least 2 subjects use technology to interfere with each other in different matters. We have to train then and teach them or let them learn, why is that good for them. So the tool needs to be attractive effective and simple to use, too, better – seemless;)

    • Absolutely. The key is to make the technology so simple that it disappears. That lets the people involved focus on their interaction and collaboration to accomplish a task, solve a problem, or otherwise come together for a common purpose.

  2. Thanks Christopher for participating in the #CiscoChat and providing your further insight here in the post. I’ve attended several of these chat sessions and this one was really one of the most active of the bunch. Special thanks to all who participated and provided their insight to build the conversation.

    • Hi Kim,
      Thanks a lot for having me at the #CiscoChat on this subject, that is very dear to me. Thanks a lot for the opportunity to exchange thoughts with so many interesting people as well. I feel we all learned something new on that day.

      Have a great day and see you soon!
      – Chris