Lately we’re hearing a lot about the end of traditional workplace hierarchies. Organizations expect employees to do more within smaller teams, and to do it faster. People want the freedom to rapidly move between projects and to collaborate with others inside and outside their organizations with fewer restrictions or privacy concerns. And they want to work from everywhere.

According to the 2014 ZK Research Unified Communications Purchasing Survey, 48% employees now spend at least 30% of their time away from their primary workspace and 71% of organizations regularly collaborate with individuals outside their company.

Today’s collaborators – what I call “agile workers” – are transforming the enterprise.  They are creating and sharing ideas and content rapidly, and interacting with colleagues inside and outside their organization from anywhere.  They work at their own pace and they want to use the devices of their choice.  Gone are the days of being in an office on a 9 to 5 schedule.  So even while organizations invest in collaboration tools to improve how people work at work; employees bring their own devices and apps to the workplace to be more productive, individually.  What we’re missing is a way to improve productivity for both the individual and the team, using the same, simple solution.

Think about your day. Despite all the new technologies available, do you default to the familiarity of e-mail and audio conferences? Do you feel that you work better with your teams inside your company or with others outside your organization? Do you feel more productive at the coffee shop or at your office? 

I am sure there are mixed reactions out there, and for good reason.  Many enterprise tools require someone in their IT department to authorize employees’ access.  Often gaining access to these tools could take weeks.  New employees struggle just to figure out how to get their email working on their smartphones or don’t know how (or if) to host a virtual meeting.  Small companies may not even have IT departments.

It’s no wonder so many people turn to tools that can be downloaded onto their phones with a single tap and without needing anyone from IT involved.  But that imperative to “bring your own app” trades privacy and corporate security for consumer-esque ease of use.

So that’s what Cisco is working to solve: A new cloud platform focused on user-centricity that unifies collaboration functions – and that both users and IT will love.  The newly announced Project Squared is the first application delivered by this platform. This is just the beginning, and we started with a laser focus on a few key things that will make a big difference to the modern worker:

  • Rooms for everyone: This is the one secure place for all your teams to work together and stay connected.  You can send secure messages, share documents, even share your screen during a live 8-person group video sync up.  Everyone has full access to all these features: there’s no “owner” or “host.”  We’re going to make this feel like the proverbial “room down the hall” where you and your team can work live and where all your work can live.  
  • Built for the agile worker: This is where we help you be more productive from anywhere, anytime.  You can invite anyone – from inside or outside your organization – to join Project Squared rooms.  People can participate from nearly every type of mobile and desktop device. We’ve even made it possible to use voice and video capabilities on a Firefox browser, sans plug-ins.  Project Squared stores and syncs everything that happens in the room, so you can catch up on what you didn’t actually miss. 
  • Makes the tools you already depend on better: This is what we’re most excited about and where there’s the most room to grow.  Love WebEx?  Your calendar works with Project Squared to provide a list of your WebEx meetings and lets you join them in a single tap.  Love your Box folders?  Integrate your account on iPhone and iPad to make it simple to share recently updated files into Project Squared rooms.  This is just the beginning.

And of course, we’re focused on delighting and improving how we deliver these new collaboration experiences.  So we’re making sure the Cisco Collaboration Cloud and Project Squared are highly relevant to our partners and IT administrators.  You’ll be able to fuse existing collaboration investments with this experience and to manage it all from a simple administration portal. We built a highly secure architecture that supports end-to-end content encryption so you can focus less on how the tech works, and more on how your teams work.

In a new paper, ZK Research’s Zeus Kerravala summarizes the expected benefits of new solutions that embrace our preferred work styles: “Together, these capabilities help create a more integrated workflow for today’s workers and project teams. This will yield a more efficient workforce that can stay better connected, make decisions more quickly and raise productivity to new heights.”

I invite you to sign up for Project Squared today.  Use it on all your devices, try out all our new features, and send us your feedback often. (We built the feedback button right into every version of the app.)

Learn how Project Squared can help agile workers – like those on your teams – do their best work, together.


Steve Chazin

No Longer with Cisco