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Woody Allen, Malcolm Gladwell and Unified Communications

October 11, 2007 - 1 Comment

At Cisco’s recent CIO Summit, Malcolm Gladwell, the author of The Tipping Point and Blink, reminded us how people draw their conclusions from rapid cognition as much they do from detailed analysis. In discussing how companies could be more effective from a sales and marketing perspective, he suggested:”if you can personalize a product or service, you can find the crack in the door.”Much of what I have been thinking about recently in the UC/Collaboration space follows a similar logic. I call it the”nose at the glass.”Traditionally, when work occurred at the office — instead of on the road, in your car, at the airport, from a hotel or at home -there was a time-honored idea that you would go find someone and deal with an issue if something was important enough. Even if they were on the phone, you could stand in front of their office window and make your urgency known. If the person you needed to work with was on the phone or ignoring you, you could inch your way into the office until you could get their attention. Your”presence server” was based on the relationship you had with the other person.With today’s never-ending stream of asynchronous communications, including unanswered emails, vmails, and text messages, business communications are probably suffering from a volume/quality perspective. If Woody Allen was to channel this, he would say”the food was lousy and there was too much of it.”As companies become flatter, more global and more decentralized, unified communications can play a key role in re-establishing the urgency and”body English” of business. To wit, the reason why video and mobile communications technologies (such as TelePresence and Cisco Unified Mobile Communicator) are getting so much attention and demand is because they bridge us back to a more human time of business: when people worked with other people more than when they worked with machines.When people look at TelePresence, they need to understand value is about business transformation rather than 1080p. Putting your employees, customers, partners, and supplier back into your office is the most efficient way to communicate and collaborate, especially when time and distance are a challenge. Powerful video communications provide for a full-on experience driving people to work with each other, really understanding, at a sociological basis, the other person’s level of engagement. As we like to say, being there is about being here.Mobility is my favorite though. Allowing my office to move with me provides a greater level of continuity in communications. Knowing who is trying to reach me -and having the right capabilities to deal with open privileges of a flat communications environment -is a powerful tool in tightening the human elements of collaborationAnd of course, doing this is a secure manner eliminates privacy and business risk of using open capabilities on the Internet, issues that both inspire and scare IT and business decision-makers alike. The next wave of UC will come from bringing people back into our business processes in a way that allows them to both have meaningful collaboration as well as deal with information overload of a flat communications system. Who knows, perhaps Alexander Graham Bell was thinking of a long unanswered queue of letters when he invented the telephone. In his own words:”When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

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  1. Alan, you’re really on a people matter more than technology”” theme. Makes sense and consistent with the Human Netork theme…reminds me of the “”email free campaigns”” written up in today’s Merc. Company’s making Fridays no-email-days to encourage face to face and realtime phone conversations.”