It’s Thursday and the sun has set in Las Vegas. That means it’s still hotter than blazes outside, but we’ve closed the books on Cisco Live 2016. It was a busy week of summer camp for geeks. How busy? CMO Karen Walker threw some mighty stats at the closing keynote crowd:

  • The Cisco technical team built the network from scratch in 4 days
  • The show network supported 37,000 wireless users a day.
  • We sent 34 terabytes of data across the network during the show.

Holy sequins and slot machines!

Check out CLUS Daily Highlights for videos, photos, and more.

Innovation Talk for Collaboration
Collaboration Technology Group execs Rowan Trollope, Jonathan Rosenberg, and Jens Meggers successfully took on the challenge of the morning session. Proof of attendee interest in collaboration showed clearly in the gathering outside the auditorium more than 30 minutes in advance of the 9 a.m. start time. More proof? The session went over the expected time. The audience stayed.

Rowan opened by talking about the group’s philosophy when designing products: simple, magical, and open. “We have a deep belief that systems should be open,” he explained. He also acknowledges that it’s not always about the newest innovations: “The technology has to work with whatever you have – but it also needs to make it work better,” he said. “Cisco Spark, when combined with the technologies you already have – can make your existing things better.”

Jonathan focused on business messaging and showed off something simple: a green button. The significance is that it simplifies joining meetings. The green button replaces the manual entry of a litany of phone numbers and meeting passcodes.

Jens started with “there’s more to Cisco Spark than just messaging.” He announced the capability of all our desk and room systems to natively connect to the Cisco cloud — today. This brings everything to the cloud with no infrastructure required.

He also focused on how well the portfolio works with the network — and why it’s so important to the video experience. “Every millisecond matters,” he said. “When it comes to video, network latency becomes your biggest enemy.” He also announced the Spark Video SDK, which will roll out in a limited beta in the next few months. I like the way he explained it: “We are committed to openness — why should we keep all this technology to ourselves?”

Also on the horizon is the newest member of the collaboration team: Monica. Who is Monica? Monica is a digital assistant who functions within Spark. “Digital assistants work great in the consumer world to make things easier – why not in the business world?” Jens asked. In essence, the team has optimized digital assistant technology for business – trained it with directory and schedule info. Monica can take on tedious tasks so people can get back to their meetings. Expect to hear more about Monica in the coming weeks.

Watch the Collaboration episode of the Cisco Live Backstage Pass. The first half includes an interview with Rowan and Jonathan, the second gives you a tour of the latest gear in the Collaboration booth.


Want more? Here’s the full Cisco Live 2016: Collaboration Reimagined session with the introduction of the green button and Monica.

Attendees kept our booth crews busy doing demos and answering product questions all week. Every time I went to see the booth, it was buzzing with people. Some of the busiest kiosks were for Cisco Spark, Acano, the 8821W wireless IP phone and the 8865 color video IP phone, Presenter Track, and the Apple iOS integration. People were enthusiastic in particular about the ability to register endpoints to directly to Spark, which provides more options to smaller organizations or enterprise looking to do cloud-prem hybrid deployments.

Bring on the Bots
If you ask me, the idea of “there’s an app for that” has gone too far. I don’t want an app for this, that, and the other thing – let alone 17. Instead of all those apps, chat bots provide an opportunity to take advantage of messaging apps to deliver more functionality. In case you missed it, Wednesday’s #botchat included great insights about everything you can do with bots these days and a peek into Built.io’s integration software and how it can connect pretty much anything to Cisco Spark. You can read the conversation on Twitter.

Hello Watson
I stopped by the IBM Watson booth to learn more about how we’re bringing together our respective collaboration solutions. I got a great overview of how we’re bringing together Cisco Spark and WebEx with IBM’s Verse and Connections – and how Watson will join the fun to make my life (and your life) much easier going forward. The IBM team shared some great research and stats to show what we’re working to solve:

  • Currently, the average employee is distracted once every 11 minutes and needs an average of 25 minutes to refocus on tasks.
  • People compensate by working faster (but not necessarily more effectively), and experience more stress, higher levels of frustration, and greater time pressures.

I haven’t used a stopwatch to time distractions, but it all rings true to me. So I’m on board. Let’s fix it.

Apple + Cisco
The Apple + Cisco booth was a good place to get more insight into our relationship and efforts with new iOS APIs. Cisco Spark will use new iOS APIs to directly integrate VoIP calling capabilities with iPhone and iPad. But that’s just part of the story. Learn more in the video about integrated voice and collaboration and on our Apple partnership page.

Closing Keynote: Kevin Spacey on Storytelling
In the midst of great impressions and amusing anecdotes, actor/producer/writer/musician/etc. Spacey shared great insight on storytelling. It was a quote fest and a laugh fest. Just to keep on message, I’ll share some of my favorite soundbites from his views of storytelling:

  • “Stories are at the center of what we all share together.”
  • “[With technology] there are more ways today for all of us to tell stories than ever before.”
  • “Now that we’re all talking, who is listening?”
  • “No one ever breaks new ground by playing it safe…. We should all be in a battle with mediocrity.”

Cisco Champions Rock the Twittersphere
The Cisco Champion program is a group of customers and partners who are enthusiastic about technology — including ours. They’re techie, they’re social, and they’re opinionated. At least five of the top ten active Twitter users this week are members of the program – including Zoe who attended (and tweeted) remotely from the U.K.. The top tweeter of the week was @collabsensei, also known as Dennis.

Some may consider it ill-advised, but someone handed me a microphone to moderate a panel about using social media to build your personal brand. Cisco Champions and panelists Justin, Dustin, and Ed provided great insight about how blogging and tweeting have helped them build credibility and make contacts in the technical worlds. Biggest advice for those looking to join the fray: be authentic. (Let me know in the comments if you want me to put together a blog post with their thoughts!)

Other Nuggets from the Weekclus do good
Attendees, partners, and Cisco teams came together exceed the goals for the Stop Hunger Now and Clean the World volunteer projects. This year’s hats blink. A lot. My Fitbit hates me. I’m surprised it didn’t burst into flame.

Special Shout Outs
In addition to the Cisco teams, some pretty amazing groups helped make CLUS run smoothly. I want to express gratitude to the Mandalay conference center and catering staff, orange-shirt information gurus, bus wranglers, security, and all the other groups that contributed to a smooth event. Extra thanks to Ryan and Miranda in the booth, Rita with catering, and JR from the orange-shirt crew for sharing their amazing positive energy within the chaos that is CLUS. Your efforts stand out – and made a difference to me and many others.

That’s all folks.
@ciscokima has left the building.

What did you think of Cisco Live? Whether you joined us in Vegas or followed online, please share your feedback in the comments.



Kim Austin

No Longer with Cisco