Experience Matters in Collaboration (So Does Architecture)

May 7, 2012 - 4 Comments

When you engage each and every employee, you can transform them from “knowledge workers” into empowered employees. And that is a powerful value for business.

Most enterprise executives are facing a workplace that is no longer a physical place, but a blend of virtual and physical environments; where employees are bringing their preferences to work and BYOD is the new norm; where collaboration has to happen beyond walled garden; and any-to-any connectivity is a requirement, not a “nice to have.”

As business leaders we are faced with making this work, and we find ourselves asking: How do we engage customers to provide them with greater value? How can we engage our employees so that they can get better, faster?

At Cisco, we believe in a fundamental principle: Experience matters. We believe that it is about people at the center of collaboration. It is about humanizing technology. It is about end-to-end experiences, not just the user-interface experience.

It is about the optimal experience for the task at hand. So, it is about creating that in-person experience from an immersive Telepresence session, but also about creating the best possible experience when you are on the road participating via an iPad.

User experience matters. Choice matters. But to get this right, architecture matters.

Architecture matters if you want to deliver a high-quality people-centric collaboration experience across a broad range of applications and devices. Whether you’re talking Windows or Mac, iOS or Android, our focus is on delivering an integrated user experience.

The most powerful thing I’ve done in my management career is when we shifted from developing products for technology sake, to developing products for people. We defined three “personas,” fully characterizing and profiling the users of our products. And as we designed and developed new products, we always came back to the user – the persona — who would use the product. This change of perspective absolutely changed how we designed and developed our products. In fact, this is what drove the design of our immersive Telepresence systems.

At Cisco we believe, that only an open interoperable architecture can deliver cross-company collaboration.

Not long ago there was more diversity than interoperability in the industry. There were diverse networking protocols, diverse ways of doing email, and diverse ways to handle voice. As an industry we’ve converged and standardized all of these to make network, email, and voice connectivity pervasive.

My firm belief is that the next phase is to converge around the same set of standards for video. At Cisco we believe in bringing people together, and that pervasive video is the next transition.

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  1. While I agree with your premise, I have a slightly different view of the end user outcome. The experience is not really the point of the collaborative transaction; one does not tablet VTC in the same sense that one might ride a roller coaster. Instead, I will posit that the user wants to concentrate on what he/she is doing, not on how he is doing it. Fast, simple, effortless collaborative connections that simply WORK, thereby allowing the user to interact, do his business, and get onto something else, is our objective.

    Technology is an enabler, not an end. With that in mind, interoperability is THE critical feature of the architecture, not just a requirement.

    • I believe we are talking about the same thing. For me, ” Fast, simple, effortless collaborative connections that simply WORK” is the experience I am referring to, and I can’t agree more with you that interoperability is critical for this experience to be a reality.

  2. OJ Winge makes a number of excellent points regarding the the critical importance of cross company collaboration but the one that resonates most strongly for me is the power of experience. I believe the next stage of this evolution is extending this practice to collaboration with your customers. Creating a multi function collaboration platform for your customers brings them into the conversation; driving engagement and increasing their satifisfaction with your company.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me! I agree we should not architect this only inside our organizations, but also towards our suppliers, partners and customers. OJ