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Ajay Goel, Senior Vice President-ITS, Cisco India & SAARC

In the early days of the Internet, it advanced the ways in which we interacted and communicated. Today what we are seeing is a new Internet-driven revolution, an entirely new level of instant, complex collaboration across the global human network.

So as bits and bytes change our ways of living, working, learning and playing, many organizations have harnessed the power of technology to do business across borders. These organizations are not limited by distances, geographies, or boundaries and the world is their playing field, enabled by the advances made by technology. The chapter of global collaboration has begun, and will continue to fundamentally change business models, relationships, political networks, innovation, and learning.

Consider one such application: high-definition videoconferencing. With this, people as far away from each other as Bangalore and Boston or Mysore and Moscow can sit across the virtual table from one another. You hear the faraway voice as if it were in the same room. You see the other person's pupils dilate, forehead sweat, lips curl into a smile and fingers tap, from thousands of miles away. This kind of rich, instant, virtually in-person technology changes customer service models, family relationships, and even our environment.

Organizations that have adopted the outsourcing / offshoring model need no longer be afraid of losing business due different locations, time zones or cultures. High-definition videoconferencing creates unique, in-person experiences between people, places, and events in work and personal settings. Such virtual meetings have the ability to simulate communication environments that are comparable with face-to-face communication situations. In addition, documents can be seen and worked upon in real time and thus, decisions are taken quickly and efficiently. Travel costs as well as travel time can be brought down drastically thereby positively impacting productivity and profits. Less travel also means carbon reduction which spells numerous benefits to our environment.

One must also keep in mind that it is this kind of an environment that videoconferencing solutions have struggled to produce. Often difficult to deploy and plagued with technical issues such as latency and jitter, many videoconferencing tools have fallen short of customer expectations. Hi-definition videoconferencing on the other hand comes the closest to face-to-face communication and allows the user to be himself / herself. And experts feel that it is precisely these visual cues that are critical to conferencing because more than 60 percent of communication is non-verbal.

So a sales rep meets with one customer in Japan at 9 a.m., another in Frankfurt at 10 and a third in New York at 1 p.m. all via hi-definition videoconferencing. Four hours later that same employee can be at home with her three children, reading them a story and tucking them into bed--instead of on a plane flying back from just one customer visit. Multiplied over thousands of employees who work for such organizations, think of the savings that can be incurred in terms of time, energy, finances, environmental harm and efficiency!

For business decision makers of organizations that have multiple locations, effective communications has to be part of their business strategy and can give them a competitive advantage. A unified portfolio of communications products and services has the ability to enhance business processes, improve employee productivity, and increase customer satisfaction, raising revenues and reducing costs. Integrated communications systems are comprehensive, secure IP based-solution that includes voice, video, data, and mobility products and applications.

A complete communications solution not only enables businesses to share information (with employees, customers, partners, and vendors) more quickly and effectively, but also reduces costs, improves employee productivity, while creating a more personal way of communicating. It helps an employee set his / her 'presence' i.e. information about a person's willingness and ability to communicate. Thus leading to a sustainable competitive advantage that connects people to people and not devices. In addition, a unified communications portfolio streamlines and integrates communications more closely with business processes, and enables customers, employees, and partners to reach the right resource the first time.

It is not difficult to imagine the multiple benefits employees can derive from a complete communications system with easy to order fixed configurations which include public switched telephone network (PSTN), firewall protected Internet connectivity, full featured automated attendant, voicemail, IP phones, video telephony, and analog phone support. Combined with its optional desktop application support, some of the products available in the market today enable more effective collaboration by using simple yet powerful capabilities such as instant messaging, single-number reach, integration with common applications like Microsoft Outlook, CRM applications, and desktop control of calls and voice messages to help enrich the total communications experience. In short, when everything is connected, one has access to anyone, anything, anywhere.

Collaborative technologies such as the ones mentioned above provide global organizations new approaches to communicating. Solutions that have the capability to make communications more productive, efficient, and collaborative thus empower organizations to reach their growth potential in the global marketplace. As global organizations increasingly focus on their communication needs, tech companies are working toward easy and affordable technology that transcends many of the limitations that have earlier been faced. And in the process businesses get a boost by way of greater productivity, faster decision making, improved time to market, improved responsiveness, and greater collaboration with co-workers, customers and partners.

Ajay Goel

Ajay Goel,
Senior Vice President - Industry Business, Strategy, Operations,
Cisco India & SAARC


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