In these austere times, the days of technology manufacturers staging lavish overseas conferences are largely gone. But for organisations with the scale and reach of Cisco they are still an important way to showcase what’s been going on in the development labs and to describe their plans to their resellers and to industry commentators.
I was fortunate enough to represent Kcom, at the recent European Collaboration Summit. The event (December 13/14 2010) was extremely well attended with 240 partners and 30 analysts representing 140 companies from across 40 countries. Despite Cisco’s recent weak results they remain extremely bullish about what they see as a $38BN ($10BN in Europe) opportunity for Collaboration. Indeed John Chambers recently stated that “Cisco Collaboration was on fire”.
For a two day summit there really was an enormous amount of ideas and solutions to absorb. Over the past decade Cisco has come a long way on many fronts. In the same way that they have conquered traditional networks and IP telephony, they are now doing the same with video and collaboration. Cisco has a very broad vision for Collaboration and is focusing on four simultaneous market transitions – Video, Virtual, Mobile and the Social nature of these activities.
Customers and their partners need to work together to fully scope on what a business is seeking to achieve rather than focusing just on technology. This begins with leveraging and building on the existing unified communications foundation, through to defining the new work experience and enhancing that experience with Collaboration services. Cisco’s marketing muscle and completeness of vision does a fantastic job of pushing the market far beyond where many businesses exist today. For example there are 180 million TDM lines still deployed across Europe and even if you take the fact that Cisco has just shipped their 30 millionth IP handset (which is an astonishing amount in ten years) there are still an enormous amount of business that are not taking full advantage of the business value that Collaboration can deliver.
Cisco highlighted what can be done to help solve the challenges of mobility, social networking and geographically dispersed teams. The Cisco Quad enterprise Collaboration platform combines the power of social networking with communications, business information and content management systems. Cisco Show and Share is a YouTube-like service that allows users to create, edit, and share video content. Throughout the summit Cisco emphasised that the importance of Collaboration is being focused on what people do with it and not just the technology.
The recent Tandberg acquisition made video the star of the summit. With Telepresence coming to the desktop now, virtualisation will further extend that capability to potentially make video as ubiquitous as telephony. Cisco has also integrated mobility, unified communications, Collaboration, desktop virtualisation and high-definition video into a powerful, portable, business tablet solution called the Cius (as seen in the image above).
The Cius is different from other tablets on the market place in that it is designed primarily for business use, with employers being able to control personal use. It will interesting to see how this market unfolds in 2011 as other tablet rivals focus their sales on consumers who are bringing these devices into the workplace. You will have to evaluate the business value and understand the potential impact that these devices will have in the workplace. Potentially fewer companies will purchase items for employees, and more companies will look to share the expense with the employees. All Cisco devices will be video enabled and if you couple that with the fact that 51% of network traffic is video today rising to 90% in 2013 then you can see why the Tandberg acquisition was so important.
Cisco also used the power of “live demonstrations” to bring many these concepts to life. They demonstrated the power of integrating video into various tools like Quad, Show and Share and their latest solution, Social Miner. Social Miner allows you to add context to video, connect to other forms of social media, and share it with your own business community. To ensure all this really works, you have to have the right network architecture, and Cisco is ultimately using social media to drive traffic over the corporate network.
The event certainly positioned Cisco as being both a thought leader and innovator in the Collaboration marketplace and acquisitions that Cisco have been making over recent years together with their own developments and innovation to their Collaboration architecture is now pretty much complete.
This is an exciting time for the marketplace and plenty for you to consider on how this impacts your business communications strategy.
If you want to know how this could enhance your business or see some of these solutions in action at the Kcom Collaboration Centre then please do not hesitate to contact me.Kcom at the Cisco European Collaboration Summit