Cisco kicked off this year’s annual UC EXPO event at Olympia, in London, with a keynote seminar from Marianne Calder, MD of Collaboration Architecture Sales for EMEA and Russia, who outlined the company’s vision to create a family of products and offerings that bring together unified communications, conferencing and customer collaboration in order to enable the agile enterprise.
“We aim to be in every room, on every desk and in every pocket,” said Calder, pointing out that as the Internet of Everything becomes more ubiquitous, and as mobility and cloud come together, there was a potential $19 trillion opportunity for the collaboration industry in the coming years.
With people and processes representing 60 per cent of that possible opportunity, Calder pointed out that boosting individual productivity had gone as far as it could. Rather, she said, team effectiveness would be necessary for success in the future.
“We have been working with Fortune 500 companies who have looked into how they can increase productivity even further, and we see the biggest opportunities are now in enabling and improving teamwork,” said Calder.
The hierarchies and functional teams of the past were over, she continued. Today is about flexibility and agility, with interdependent working, flexible and agile teams based anywhere replacing individuals and fixed long-term teams. Calder pointed out that 40 per cent of Cisco employees report to a manager that is based in a different country.
As a result, Cisco’s roadmap is focused on allowing teamwork to come together in a much more seamless way, she said. To enable that, Cisco’s vision is to bring together a comprehensive framework and platform where “the user has a completely seamless experience and complete continuity that allows them to work in new ways across the board”.
The core of this strategy is to be “experience-centric, cloud-connected and value extended”, explained Calder, as exemplified by the recent rollout of Collaboration Meeting Room, which extends the user experience by combining WebEx, TP and CMI. The way people work is changing, she noted, and an integral part of that is to create a “delightful and exciting” user experience.
“We now have a family of products that feels like a family, we have recently launched our new interface with WebEx, as well as Spark, which allows people to enter a room, share information and documents, such as PowerPoint and video, and work on them regardless of time or country,” she explained.
At a recent conference, Calder noted that when asked how many enterprises had already moved to the cloud, very few CEOs and CIOs raised their hand. The reality is that nobody expects everyone to move to the cloud immediately, she said, rather enterprises first need to move to a hybrid model that connects cloud and on-premise.
Calder concluded the opening session by providing some real-world business benefits that collaboration was already delivering using Cisco products. Nationwide, for example, had increased sales performance by 70 per cent and reduced sales cost by 66 per cent by using video calls in branches throughout the country to offer mortgage consultations. The bank was leading the way for financial services, and would be rolling the service out to 400 UK branches, said Calder.
“In the past, people were given productivity tools and applications by IT, but the no longer need them. The new user needs choice and to leverage any application they need to utilise in order to make them more productive. We now use the productivity tools that we feel most comfortable with. So we want to be open and interoperable to make sure that our customers can have a seamless experience across any device and in any location,” concluded Calder.