Published: August 2019
Collaboration solutions have transformed Cisco’s business. Cisco IT deploys and supports our solutions—from Cisco Webex Teams to Cisco Meeting Server to Cisco IP Phones—to help Cisco improve business processes, speed decision-making, and boost workforce productivity. Cisco collaboration solutions allow employees around the world to engage with each other on any device. They simplify communication, accelerate team collaboration, and inspire innovation.
Many tools for collaboration, like video conferencing through Cisco Webex Meetings and Webex Teams, are used daily by employees not only at Cisco, but also in many other organizations and by remote workers around the globe. It’s easy to take for granted the ease of modern collaboration using Cisco solutions, but getting to this point has been a long journey for Cisco IT. "Over the past two decades, Cisco IT has been focused on making real-time enterprise collaboration a reality—and laying the groundwork for the future of collaboration as well," said Tony DeGruy, IT Manager at Cisco. "Each advancement brings us closer to the vision Cisco is trying to achieve: the point where collaboration technology can adapt intelligently to users."
The Cisco IT collaboration journey began early in the new century, in 2001. The Cisco IT team started to focus on IT consolidation, including converging voice, video, and data networks and developing a globalized IT architecture (see Figure 1). Since that time, each step along the collaboration journey has been designed to harness the power of mobile and the cloud to support real-time collaboration across devices and geographies and deliver an increasingly intuitive and effortless user experience.
Following is a closer look at some of these critical steps, and when they unfolded, as outlined in Figure 1:
Cisco Spark was short-lived, but only because Cisco IT recognized the opportunity to use the Webex platform to create a new ecosystem of services for continuous team collaboration: Cisco Webex Teams. That solution keeps people connected anytime, anywhere, and brings together messaging, file sharing, video meetings, whiteboarding, calling, and other tools into one app to support real-time communication and streamline teamwork. It also reduces the complexity of modern collaboration by eliminating the need for people to use different products and services to interact.
While the Cisco Webex Teams solution is designed to enhance team productivity, efficiency, creativity, and decision-making, it’s making another impact: helping Cisco to promote a culture of collaboration. "Cisco Webex Teams supports informal and real-time communication and creates a sense of belonging for employees like no other tool we’ve used before," said Arti Patel, Product Owner, at Cisco.
Cisco Webex Teams also prevents avoidable "communication disconnects," noted DeGruy. "While Cisco Jabber has long been a valuable tool for helping our employees communicate in real time during the workday, people would often miss important messages while they were offline," he said. "This was especially a problem for teams distributed across time zones. But these disconnects don’t happen in Webex Teams spaces. People can see the messages left in a space by their teammates and respond to them at any time."
The Cisco Webex Teams solution also helps to build trust and rapport among employees. "The solution makes it even easier for people to engage in face-to-face communication through video," Patel explained. "They can start calls instantly, launch high-quality video meetings with screen-sharing at the touch of a button, and easily stay connected after meetings."
DeGruy and Patel said the capabilities that Cisco Webex Teams supports are especially important to millennial and Generation Z workers who expect to have continuous and effortless communication with their teammates across any device. And providing that experience is important to Cisco, as an employer, in terms of talent recruiting and retention. Millennial and Generation Z workers are a rapidly growing population in the company’s global workforce.
Since the introduction of Cisco Webex Teams in 2018, Cisco IT has been working to further improve the user experience by optimizing workstreams and adding new capabilities. Integrations are a major focus, as they help to create an even more immersive and seamless collaboration experience for users.
Cisco Webex Teams already delivers prebuilt solutions with third-party applications from vendors such as Microsoft, Google Cloud, and Salesforce to deliver complete collaboration experiences. Other integrations can be set up using the Webex App Hub to connect work that is underway in Cisco Webex Teams with work that is happening in other tools such as ServiceNow, Trello, Asana, and Jira.
The Cisco IT collaboration journey is ongoing. But the substantial progress the team has made to date in making real-time enterprise collaboration a reality at Cisco can be measured in many ways—from the increasing adoption of collaboration tools throughout the organization to the average number of monthly users of Webex Teams to the average number of video calls and meetings made through Cisco Webex each month (see Figure 2).
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