Cisco Blogs

The Twitterati Mean Business

- February 9, 2009 - 7 Comments

I have something to confess: I am not much of a Twitterer @ascohen. Although I like to blog, and I have become relentless on Facebook, powered by the sagging belt syndrome of carrying an iPhone and a Blackberry that have allowed me to become an ambidextrous Web 2.0er, alas, I have not yet fully jumped to the”Jitter of Twitter.” But I have seen it, enviously, in action. Our CTO, Pamasaree Warrior is one of the most Tweeted Cisco figures (over 4500 followers), with Doug Gourlay and the”Hole in the Data Center” gang following rapidly on her heels At our Collaboration Launch in September, I observed about 80 of the world’s leading analysts Tweeting away for days, turbocharged by Cisco presentations on our strategy and a ready supply of coffee and caffeinated soda.The Twitter and Facebook phenomena both yield some interesting possibilities and risks for business. To start with, these two digital communities provide a constant and rich presence engine for individuals. Not only do people know where you are and if you are available — brandishing the”two towers” of mobility and unified communications, location and presence -they actually know your mood or even what you had for breakfast in Barcelona, Bahia or Brooklyn. In my own (tongue-in-cheek) way, I have asked our IT department, repeatedly, for an approach to federated, cross-company presence based on the album titles that the late Miles Davis created or appeared on. The jazz giant, I believe, is much better suited to explaining my status and mood than I am. To simplify the request, I even narrowed it down to the following 10 settings:- Chasin the Bird- Come into the Cool- Kinda Blue- In a Silent Way- Big Fun- Back on the Block- No Time for Poetry- Tea Time- Tourist Season- With the Modern Jazz QuartetOur friend David Kirkpatrick of Fortune is writing a book on this on this phenomena called The Facebook Effect. In fact, you can follow his progress (and even seen a copy of his publishing contract, on Facebook itself — after you sign up instantly to be a fan. Of course, Twitter and Facebook are worlds coming together rapidly over the next 1-2 years and we all better pay attention to what it means for our work. From a business perspective, the interesting blend of personal and business falls into a gray DMZ in the social networking sphere. While it is interesting for my friends to see the latest iPhone pix of my weekend ride up Mines Road in Livermore, does it make sense to blend it with my latest rant on the competitive status of the visual networking market? When I got out of college, my father took me to Brooks Brothers in New York and bought me a decent Harris Tweed sport coat. The sales woman at the store said:”if you want to play on the team, you have to wear the right uniform.”Yet technology and work styles -in addition to the demise of formal business attire in many company cultures -have changed much of this. Work is more of an activity than a place and the Internet and mobile communications have fused the idea of the office, home or on the move.Indeed, in my own profession of marketing, traditional communications and marketing functions at most corporations were designed to facilitate a carefully scripted broadcast of information and positions from a company to its customers and partners as well as to the press, analysts, and even competitors that follow it. Increasingly, as our director of new media Jeannette Gibson noted to the Financial Times a few weeks ago, we are shifting to two-way or infinite-way conversations. Once you have started Twittering and social networking with your market, how are you going to keep them on the press release farm?There is a profound shift in the communications and collaboration world driven by the immediacy of Web 2.0 approaches infusing our working world. At the end of the day, Social Networking and Collaboration technologies built on IT Virtualization provide many opportunities for companies: but the one that matters most is speed!So even the most ardent writer/blogger must understand resistance is futile. Starting later this week, I will begin Tweeting from the NBA All-Star Weekend in Phoenix, not about the famous vertical sights but the infusion of technology in the game. You can follow me on Twitter @ascohen.

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  1. Alan:I think you need to add 'Seven Steps to Heaven, but I digress. I think from our perspective, both FB and Twitter, but especially Twitter provide velocity and transparency that is both an opportunity and a challenge--in net, for our DC team, I think it has been a positive development.The personal/professional DMZ comment is funny--my FB status updated with my tweets and recently a friend posted a comment asking me if I was actually speaking English in response to a particularly lingo-laden tweet.Omar"

  2. Don't forget the @Cisco_UC gang ( who are nipping at the heels of the the hole in the wall"" Data Center gang."

  3. Welcome to the snow globe"" as many call it! It's been great to watch Cisco get into the SM/SN space since the Five Across acquisition.All the best. You can find me on twitter at, or @vikdug.Vik Duggal"

  4. Can I be Doc Holiday? or that guy Emilio Estevez played... ;)

  5. Doug, as you might remember, the Hole in the Wall Gang is a key element of the history of the Wild West. To me, it is a perfect metaphor for the Web 2.0 community operating around the virtualization of the Data Center. To quote the Wikipedia: The Gang was not simply one large organized gang of outlaws, but rather was made up of several separate gangs, all operating out of the Hole-in-the-Wall Pass, using it as their base of operations. The gangs formed a coalition, each planning and carrying out its own robberies with very little interaction with the other gangs. At times, members of one gang would ride along with other gangs, but usually each gang operated separately, meeting up only when they were each at the hideout at the same time.""While I am not strictly implying Omar and you are, hmn, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid of the data center, I might point out the late great Paul Newman named his summer camp for children with cancer and other life threatening diseases after his landmark role as one of the key gang members"

  6. I love it, Alan. My own move into Twitter was most certainly hesitant and slow. However, once I realized the power it had to broadcast ideas instantly, thus supplementing the come find me"" nature of blogging, I was hooked.Cisco (especially the Data Center gang, and Padmasree) are among the best at leveraging blogging and Twitter as a way to test ideas. Rather than keeping simple concepts secret just in case they are big ideas, we talk about them, asking questions and taking advice on the way. Yeah, Cisco still protects intellectual property, but by the time we address a market fad or disruptive trend, we know a little bit about what we are being asked to say...James"

  7. Alan, what do you mean by the 'Hole in the Data Center' gang? Are you implying that there is a hole in the raised floor? Or that my group is the giant sucking black-hole of knowledge in the DC? dg