Cisco Collaboration Summit: Empower--Engage--Innovate
The conference focuses more on driving more widespread usage and simplifying licensing--and less on new product introductions.
"Empower--Engage--Innovate" was the theme of this year's Cisco Collaboration Summit held in Los Angeles. Bringing together analysts, consultants, and channel partners, Cisco presented an update of its Collaboration products and strategy. There wasn't too much new in terms of product announcement, with the exception of premises offerings moving to the cloud, and cloud offerings moving on premise, but this can be viewed as a good thing. As one Cisco spokesperson told me, "We've already filled the missing holes and gaps in our products" and can now focus on deployment, adoption, and expansion.
When it comes to the cloud, Cisco's Murali Sitaram said there will be two distinct cloud offerings--branded under WebEx and Hosted Collaboration Services (HCS). The WebEx brand includes all service offerings provided from the Cisco Cloud, while the HCS brand includes all services offerings provided from a partner cloud.
On another front, it was good to hear that Cisco has consolidated and reduced the number of clients offered, acknowledging that there was confusion in the market. As Laurent Philonenko, GM of Clients and Mobility, explained, Cisco is now providing the same software experience with three entry points: WebEx Meeting (for collaboration in a group), WebEx Social (for one-to-many collaboration), and Jabber (for one-to one collaboration). This consolidation of clients will certainly help reduce the complexity of Cisco's offerings, and make it easier for end user organizations (and analysts!). Laurent also explained the simplification of Jabber's pricing and licensing, focusing on three types of workers: Office workers, Mobile Information workers, and Power Users, each with client licenses focused on their specific needs.
To further clarify Cisco's pricing strategy, I had a briefing with Bryan Tantzen and John Marshall, who explained Cisco's launch of Enterprise Agreements, which are built around three suites: UC, conferencing, and WebEx Social. The Enterprise Agreement is a contractual arrangement for a three- or five-year period, providing fixed predictable pricing, with full access to everything in the suite. Pricing is on a knowledge worker basis, and eliminates much of the pricing complexity, providing users with full access rights that can be deployed as needed. Cisco is clearly on a mission to make things simpler for customers, and is making some good headway in this direction.
There was a good deal of discussion around the adoption of UC and collaboration, as Hans Hwang of the Cisco Services group described some of the adoption concerns Cisco is seeing. Hans noted that low adoption rates yield suboptimal ROI and stalled strategic initiatives. He noted that user adoption is typically neglected as part of the collaboration engagement and may get added on at the end, rather than being embedded in the overall program. Instead, adoption needs to be pervasive across the entire collaboration life cycle, and IT architects need to think about who will be the evangelists and spread the value of collaboration across the enterprise. Hans noted that there are four ways to close the adoption gap:
* Lower the barriers to investment;
* Enable any device, anywhere collaboration by embedding it into the things that people do;
* Have a proactive change management program to help change people's behaviors and how they do their work; and
* Measure, manage, and optimize adoption.
Cisco's Services Group helps close the gap by providing audits and assessments, and has introduced the Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) subscription cloud service to help organizations monitor and measure the usage of telepresence initially, followed by other applications.
This is just a small part of what was covered at the Collaboration Summit--there was lots of good information shared between the analysts, consultants, partners, and Cisco. For more information and insights, view my video interviews with Ross Daniels and Vishakha Radia on www.ucstrategies.com.