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UCStrategies Experts Discuss the Cisco Collaboration Summit

November 28, 2011 | Hogan Keyser
November 27, 2011 via -- In this Industry Buzz podcast, the UCStrategies Experts discuss the Cisco Collaboration Summit.

Blair Pleasant moderates the discussion, and is joined by David Yedwab, Nancy Jamison, Marty Parker, Jon Arnold, Don Van Doren, and Art Rosenberg.

Transcript for UCStrategies Experts Discuss the Cisco Collaboration Summit

Blair Pleasant: Hi, this is Blair Pleasant; I am here with my UCStrategies colleagues, and several of us were in Miami last week at the beautiful Fontainebleau Hotel at the Cisco Collaboration Summit. The topic, of course, was collaboration, and it is interesting that when this summit started several years ago, it started as the IP Summit, then it because the Unified Communications Summit and for the past two years, it was the Collaboration Summit. We really got an earful about collaboration and what Cisco is doing in that area. We heard a lot about Quad and about WebEx and the changes that are going on with WebEx. We heard some about video and telepresence, and I think it was nice the way Cisco is trying to bring all these things together. So what started off as siloes, Cisco is doing a good job of integrating and bringing some of these things together.

I loved what Barry O'Sullivan said, "don't deploy another silo, think about mobile, social, visual, and virtual when you plan your strategy, and put people in the center of collaboration." Also he mentioned (to) embed collaboration in your business processes. So whether you consider UC as part of collaboration or collaboration as part of UC, the emphasis that I heard over and over, was the integration with business processes, which anyone who has been listening to our podcasts or reading our blogs and articles, knows how important integration with business processes is. So David Yedwab, you were there.

David Yedwab:
Hello everyone and thank you Blair for introducing me. And I would like to sort of point out what I believe is a new trend within the collaboration space and within Cisco's business overall. I sense a strong shift away from Cisco's hardware sales model to a focus on software, software applications, to affect business processes as we have been talking about with several of their key announcements around software development kits being added to several of their collaboration products, like WebEx, Jabber, Quad, etc. And I believe that it is an interesting trend. And in speaking to several of the partners that were in attendance at the conference that ran in parallel to our Analyst and Consultant Summit, they sense the software shift being major, and of major concern for them as their businesses evolve, to become less box pushing and more applications and software-centric.

Nancy Jamison: It was a great conference again, I have been to, I think, all four. And there is a change but I am not going to focus on the change in theme, I think somebody else is going to talk about that. But I really like the fact that Cisco has, from five years ago when they introduced the telepresence and then to now, the kind of vast amount of any device, any size company, any delivery so they have so many different schools and they are working on the back end to integrate them together. So, for example, having a common identity system that you can log in anywhere and have it proliferate across telepresence or Jabber or WebEx, or whatever. So I saw the theme as being video and dloud, not so much the other things that Blair mentioned up front. I didn't see that; I mean they mentioned being social and mobile and all that, but we just got hit with video and cloud completely.

But one of the things that I actually really enjoyed was the discussion around the idea of a persistent meeting. And really, as Blair mentioned, them working on collaboration along with business process. So if you have a meeting, you don't just have a meeting and leave. They have a meeting space so you can like book things in advance and you can schedule it and you can have a shared document file system and you can prepare for the meeting. And then you can have the meeting, over like I said, any video device, or any device, audio or whatever, and then you leave the meeting open and you can come back later and check progress and be able to share documents and update documents and all of that. So I was kind of impressed with that whole idea and the work they are doing around it.

One of the things that struck me is they had these panels of customers speaking. And David Wright of Bank of America made a really good point in that even if they have these tools like Quad and we have these great collaboration things, if you do not make them sticky and you do not make them in a way that people will just kind of use them and if they do not get used to using them, or like to use them, then they won't. And he gave examples maybe that at least within his company if people are using Salesforce all the time, you do not want to make them use a different tool so you will have to take something like Quad and bring Salesforce into it to make it sticky and usable.

So to kind of sum it up, I really like the fact that over the five years that we have been going to these conferences, that Cisco really has done a fabulous job of creating tools and applications and devices that will allow any business of any size, on any device and what have you to use them. And the next challenge is going to be making those things sticky so that people will use them more.

Marty Parker: So this is Marty Parker, thank you Nancy for those comments. I also very much appreciated Cisco inviting us to the Collaboration Summit. It was a very well done event. They certainly had the top executives on stage and available throughout the conference so quite well done and very much appreciated. As I think you have captured in the previous comments, there really was an emphasis on some key themes and as always, Cisco does a real good job of keeping their message front and center - certainly the word collaboration, which seems to me to be more of a brand that is being applied to their collection of technologies. But it was also being used as a representation of a whole new application space and the new way that businesses will operate and so forth. We will see if that part comes true. But it certainly was being used well as a brand and as Blair mentioned, mobile, social, virtual, and visual were the representations of that.

Sometimes the message didn't quite match the content. Collaboration was being represented as perhaps something new that Cisco had invented, something different from the rest of the industry, but the content and many of the cases in the customer examples they gave, were still very much in the zone of unified communications. It was conferencing centric, mobility centric, CEBP, communications enabled business process centric, and social centric. While some may think social is not part of unified communications, social networking has really been existing in business since about the mid 80's, and there is a lot of cases for that. So I think Cisco is actually bringing many of those pieces into focus but not necessarily having invented them, rather bringing them to focus, which is always a helpful thing.

Another emphasis point was people centric, yet the examples were really about improving business processes and accelerating transactions and streamlining collaborative processes. It wasn't clear that everything was people centric, in fact it seemed to be more about transaction centric and process-centric work, which represents how businesses operate. So clearly people need to be in those processes and need to be in them efficiently. And I think that message was there. But again, the name people centric may have over emphasized just the individual nature of communications.

I also thought that their bringing WebEx, Jabber, and Quad was quite appropriate and seems to have a lot of potential. I will be excited to see it when it is released and it actually is in a software release into a very mature market since the idea of persistent workspaces has been around for over a decade. And so I think the Cisco channels may find themselves with some heavy lifting to do if they try to penetrate existing collaborative software markets.

Another emphasis was on video as the core to collaboration. Though it is pretty clear that IM and presence and persistent workspaces may be equally as important and video may not be necessary in every case. But again, Cisco has been creative there in bringing new ideas to the table.

A couple of other points. They constantly were using the term post-PC era because they were focusing on how many new mobile devices, tablets, and smart phones and so forth were coming to market. It seems to me that for the next decade, we are probably going to be in the co-PC era as people with desktops and laptops will continue to use those for the more content rich applications, while also using the mobile devices when appropriate.

And then finally, in the whole two days of meetings, there wasn't much mentioned, hardly any mention of Cisco Unified Communications Manager. It was surprising to me because that product is really core to the business and I think key to their strategy of call control, Cisco's strategy of having the call control in the business enterprise. So it will be a interesting to see if Cisco's investment and innovation and development are actually moving to other products and Cisco Unified Communication Manager still gets as much attention as it has in the past. So I found it to be a very helpful conference, a lot of innovative ideas from Cisco, while at the same time, raising a few challenges and issues that we can watch as they unfold in the marketplace.

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