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Get Unplugged with Cisco Spark Product Managers

- July 16, 2015 - 3 Comments

A few weeks ago, we brought a video crew up to the Cisco Spark office in San Francisco. We asked product managers Taylor, Renaldo, and Eric to show us Cisco Spark and chat about product development.

Given Taylor is a former Stanford football player, Eric used to do standup comedy, and Renaldo is just “the man,” I figured it couldn’t hurt to go a little off script with these characters. We set up what MTV’s Real World might call a “confessional” with a person in front of a rolling camera and an open mic. If you were hoping for sobbing monologues or ill-tempered rants, you’ll have to tune into the latest summer reality show. But we definitely got some good stuff about their day jobs, and here it is:

Let’s take that and rewind the track a bit. After this video was in the can, I followed up with a few questions for each team member, digging a little more into some of what they said.

Q: Renaldo, in the video you talk about the mission of Cisco Spark, which is to “make collaboration transparent, simple, secure, and accessible to everyone.” How do you and the team go about doing that?

Renaldo: Without a doubt, it starts with accessibility. No borders, no restrictions. I love being the Spark web PM because it’s the easiest way for someone to get started: sign up, click a link, and start working.

Transparency is super important too. Each Spark room contains the history of team interactions. In addition to viewing messages, images, and files, you can see when people are added or leave, if they’ve read your messages, had a meeting, and more. This helps make the entire context of what’s going on with the team accessible to anyone, at any time.

Q: Let’s me follow up with a gimmie. I’ve also heard you talk about transparency as responsiveness to users. What are some newer features in Cisco Spark that we didn’t talk about in the video? 

Renaldo: I’ll start with a trailer: There’s some really cool stuff coming for Spark meetings, so stay tuned. Recently, we’ve been focusing on updates to messaging and file sharing based on user feedback. You can now:

  • Delete messages and files after they’re posted
  • Use message markers to easily spring you to new messages in rooms
  • Share more easily from any storage apps you use on iPhone and iPad — such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and iCloud — in addition to the existing file sharing experience we’ve enabled with Box
  • Upload multiple photos at once on mobile
  • Download the new Windows Phone Beta app

Q: Taylor, you gave an example on how Cisco Spark really enhanced your experience working on a project. Tell us about some other use case examples or benefits.

Taylor: Almost everyone has a different story. While things like messaging, file sharing, and video calling are not new technologies, it’s the nuance of how Spark brings all of those things together in a mobile-centric way that is changing work for people.

We recently heard how Spark transformed the way a marketing agency worked with a production team at an event because of the easy content sharing and instant mobile messaging. Another company is using Spark to simplify the new-hire onboarding process, with key “must-meet” people dropping in on Spark rooms to introduce themselves.

One of the most consistent things we hear, however, is how Spark is changing team communications. Messaging is just easier than email, so people are getting to the point faster and being less formal.

Akash Jattan from Telstra shares a few great examples in this case study. He said, “With Spark I say it as it is. It takes me about 30% less time than composing an email.”

Q: Eric, you talk about Cisco Spark breaking down collaboration silos. Jens Meggers referenced this in a recent post. Can you talk more about the benefits of “frictionless” collaboration?

Eric: One way of defining “frictionless” – especially in the UC world – is seamless media escalation. But in Spark, this frictionless element also speaks to being able to very easily escalate between different topics or projects, where no two are alike.

To me, working in Spark feels like working in a virtual scrum. For those of you out there not working on planet nerd all the time like me, a scrum is a team that comes together to solve a customer-focused problem really fast. And you often work in several at once. Sounds pretty much like all work today. Am I right or am I right?

Anyway…as soon as a room lights up with new activity (indicated by a blue dot), I dive right in and get to work or join a meeting. Then it’s off to the next room where there’s something to review or respond to. It’s fast, iterative progress on a number of things at virtually the same time. And we get a lot more done that way.

What do you want to hear about next from the Cisco Spark product management team?
Do you have any unique uses of Spark to share?
As always, download Cisco Spark and let us know what you think.

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3 Comments

  1. I have to admit I was a skeptic at first. I've used the well known group collaboration / group chat programs out there and just didn't find huge value in most of them other than for group chat. However, with an inbox always alerting me that it has hit the storage limit, I had to find another way. As a team, we are using Spark for fast edits and design collaboration, to track changes and get feedback. It's worked for us! And looking forward to message markers. :)

  2. Loved that video. Short and simple

  3. Excellent summary of Spark and its use cases - thanks for sharing