It’s always nice to have your CEO stop by your event’s opening keynote. So it’s safe to say that Cisco’s Rowan Trollope had a pretty good day after CEO Chuck Robbins joined him on stage to say, “I fundamentally believe that you can’t build a digital business without collaboration.” And it’s a good way to kick things into high gear for this year’s Cisco Collaboration Summit.

And apparently the right shoes help, as Rowan pointed out: “I’m not wearing Converse, I’m wearing actual shoes — so something big must be happening today.” The something big is all about Cisco Spark.

2015-1208 spark announce

Spark Services Announcement
The new Cisco Spark Services deliver all the capabilities of the Cisco collaboration portfolio directly from the cloud, bringing together messaging, meetings, and calling – and connecting with our phones and video conferencing systems.

A big part of the announcement and keynote was about flexibility and openness – specifically letting people easily integrate Spark into their other business applications. Jonathan Rosenberg outlined the pieces that are critical to get it right: create and enable a strong developer community, think about APIs from the application-in, put developers first, and provide modern toolkits for developers to use.

And if you don’t do it right? Simple: “Unless it’s really easy to use, developers will find other ways to get things done,” Jose deCastro explained.


In the keynote, Jonathan and Jose gave a preview of the Spark for Developers site that went live this morning. They kept stressing how easy it is to use. How easy? I decided to find out. I wondered if smart guys like those two could possibly have a handle on what’s easy for other people. The verdict? They weren’t kidding. I used it to post a test message in a room from the API references – it’s literally “fill in the blanks, hit run” and the code appears at the right while the result appeared directly in my spark app – and in the room I specified.

I figured it out in less than five minutes. And I’m definitely not a developer. I earned my nerd badge for the day without actually being nerdy. (And no, it’s not really called a squirrel API. Sometimes I just think rodents are amusing.)

Customer Forum
My favorite part of Collaboration Summit is the Customer Forum event. While the partner, consultant, and analyst sessions have several hundred people, Customer Forum is a small group of fewer than 40. We bring in speakers to talk about different aspects of business that require good collaboration or affect good collaboration. It’s always interesting to hear the discussions and learn what challenges customers are facing – and how they address them. The participants represent a spectrum of industries, organization sizes, and regions.

One of today’s guest speakers was Jacob Morgan, author of The Future of Work. He started a good conversation around the different ways the workplace is changing. One of the big shifts is that we’re moving from a culture where people need to show up (focusing on utility) to creating environments where people want to show up (focusing on employee experience).

He brought up five discussion points around the future of work and employee experience.

  • Will we have offices?
  • What will organizational structures look like?
  • Will we have jobs and employees?
  • How will we work and lead?
  • What is the role of technology?

The presentations are always good, but the conversations and interaction between the customers are really the greatest value of the forum. The customers learn from one another and we learn from them. The conversations throughout the afternoon focused on the future of work and leading employees in the evolving work environment.

Another full day of sessions for the three tracks. Keep track of observations on the day on Twitter with the #csummit hashtag.

To get more about the announcements, read Rowan’s blog post and check out the replay of the keynote and demos.

Also be sure to check out the winners for the Cisco Collaboration Partner Awards.


Kim Austin

No Longer with Cisco