I thought I’d spend a few moments to share a little about what we’re working on in the Cloud Collaboration Technology Group at Cisco. Simplifying collaboration has been top of mind. But it’s been evident that we needed to think about it differently this time.
There is a new type of worker that has emerged that requires collaboration at any place and at any time. They stay constantly in touch with their colleagues and rapidly create and share new ideas, concepts and documents. They fuel shorter project cycles and juggle more projects at one time. They are not bound by hierarchies that say who they can and should work with: they simply find the right people the need to work with to get their jobs done, and get to it. They are agile, work in small teams and they are moving fast. Does this sound familiar to you?
So when we think about what’s next, we believe there is a tremendous opportunity to create a new class of collaboration tool that is specifically targeted to these types of workers, and here’s what we think is needed:
- The key for designing a next generation team collaboration solution is to support a very high frequency of informal conversations between lots of different people, all in one place
- These discussions need to easily escalate to focused meetings, so people can rapidly gain alignment right in the moment from the device of their choice
- And we believe people need to have a place that supports individual work styles and tasks
On top of these tenets, we’re dreaming up new ways to enable frictionless transitions between these work states. All through a tool that works great independent of location and devices.
As you know, we’ve started this journey with Cisco Spark.
Powerful Virtual Rooms
I believe that the best teamwork has, and always will, happen when teams are together in the same room. Rooms provide focus and enable teams to deliver on a common goal. Rooms are a powerful construct that work in the physical world as well as in the virtual world. Core to the Cisco Spark experience are virtual “rooms” where teams can quickly come together with the tools they need to do their best work. This is a powerful new way to collaborate, and we’re already hearing unique stories about how teams are using it today.
But to truly simplify teamwork takes much more than just launching an app. I meet with customers and partners every day. They tell me they need to communicate with groups of people inside and outside their organizations, with a mix of user-acquired and existing deployed IT solutions. They need to reach people on mobile devices, desktops, and in browsers as well as on apps, in offices, and even inside conference rooms.
Spark has been designed from the ground up as a mobile-first experience, but has a consistent experience across all of your devices. We use WebRTC to enable the full Spark experience on the web, including voice and video calling with screen sharing. Team members can enjoy secure, instant, borderless collaboration right in a browser without plug-ins. This makes it simple to start using Spark immediately and gives people from any company a place to come together.
Enabling frictionless transitions between various work states is already changing the way people think about meetings. Users can create a Spark room from their calendar. All they have to do is tap a meeting, swipe to create a room, and immediately begin messaging and sharing files, even before the actual meeting. By the time the next team meeting comes up, things are completely different. In a way, with Spark, we are always meeting; always working together at the time and pace that suits participants best.
Additionally, Spark rooms provide clear context for team results and conversations. We see teams in Spark rooms solving problems quickly and highly reducing the need for emails as well as the need for frequent real world meetings.
Looking into the Future
Perhaps one of the most exciting possibilities – central to fundamentally changing teamwork – is blending virtual and physical rooms. This will allow team productivity and cohesiveness to skyrocket. Imagine capturing discussions, documents, and other elements from in-person meetings and making them available for ongoing discussion and teamwork. Cisco Intelligent Proximity is an early example of what we’re dreaming up here. Cisco’s leadership in architecting physical rooms gives us a unique position to make this a new dimension of the definition for “hybrid” IT.
These ideas are just the beginning. Teamwork happens everywhere. We believe that when you remove the barriers of technology and make it just about people and great ideas, sparks fly.
Our mantra to “make teamwork simpler” guides our development. It gives us the potential to do amazing things to make all of us more competitive and relevant in today’s agile economy.
Tell us about your teamwork.
- Where does it happen?
- Who is it with?
- What do you wish you could do?
Leave a comment here and be sure to tell us right in the Spark app. We’re listening!
Stay tuned to this blog and Twitter (@ciscocollab) for exciting updates.