Cisco Collaboration US Tour Summarized in Three Words: Cloud, Collaboration, Mobile
By Jim Lundy
For four weeks in April and May, I was on the road sharing Aragon’s views of Collaboration at the Cisco Collaboration US Tour. Lane Cooper of Network World moderated the events and they spanned eight cities. The Blog summarizes a few of the key findings from the Cisco Collaboration US Tour.
The tour started in New York and ended in San Francisco. From the middle of April to the middle of May, we saw the weather change dramatically (from a cold Spring to an early Summer). There were attendees from all kinds of enterprises and it was an engaging set of conversations.
Collaboration and Cloud
First, Cloud was a key topic that I talked about – Cloud as a Strategy and Cloud as a set of operational tactics. Usage of Cloud varied by customer and by city, but it was clear that SaaS applications are gaining traction. In Collaboration, Social Networking was popular but reactions varied city by city; it is clear that many enterprises are still preparing to jump on the Social bandwagon.
I also discussed the challenges of managing a Global Real-time Cloud and indicated that many vendors in UCC are just getting started with Cloud. Cisco has a lead here, particularly compared to Google and Microsoft, which have done well more on the consumer side of real-time collaboration.
One thing that also came up was Cloud and Content. People indicated that they still have reservations about moving all of their content to the cloud, some of it based on not understanding what country the content will be stored in. Recent revelations about the US Government’s NSA Agency spying may go further in validating these fears (see Cloud Espionage post).
Collaboration and the Race to the Cloud
Just about every part of the Collaboration landscape was discussed during the national tour. Cloud Collaboration Suites are here to stay. Microsoft Office 365 appears to be making a rebound, given the comments of people who were adopting it. It is clear that they are starting to match price with Google.
The topic of ROI came up repeatedly and there were some great examples shared by participants of savings due to the ability to operate with fixed costs vs variable billing that some vendors use for Voice. The savings involved were in the multi-million dollar range. Cisco Jabber is one of the key offerings that Cisco is using to demonstrate the power of mobility in Communications and Collaboration.
Video Conferencing and Web Conferencing, two topics we see as merging, were a big part of the discussion and a few customers talked about the operational savings they were receiving from shifting to Cloud (Public and Hybrid Cloud). In a few cities there was some buzz about the tight integration between WebEx Web Conferencing and Cisco Telepresence. Of course, an event can’t happen without questions about vendors. One thing I made clear is that no product is free, including Microsoft Lync (something Microsoft Reps are touting to their customers).
Mobile and Collaboration
Mobile is clearly on everyone’s mind, particularly regarding Collaboration. I talked about the growing use cases for Tablets and the fact that they make for an ideal video and meeting devices. In every city, most attendees showed up with a tablet. Most of them indicated it was their own tablet, not a company issued device.
The lack of an in-place BYOD strategy by most of the attendees was surprising. One of the things I stressed about mobile is that vendors have to be all-in. It is not a maybe or a once a year update. Quarterly updates from vendors that offer real-time collaboration is a must do and this is a key part of how enterprises need to evaluate vendors going forward. A key take away for attendees is that they need to get on-board with Enterprise Mobile Management, which includes, device, application and content management (see Aragon Mobile Coverage).
So, all in all, a national conversation that demonstrated that Collaboration, Mobile and Cloud are a part of the new way of working. Not every enterprise is going about this journey the same way. The key thing is that the world has changed. In a Tablet era, mobile apps come first and enterprises know that collaboration is a key part of driving knowledge worker productivity.