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A Quality Time With Cisco Customer Collaboration

While the city of Boston recovers from the Marathon bombers, Cisco held its annual Cisco Customer Collaboration Analyst event in the heart of the city last week.

Cisco hasn't been sitting on its laurels, and has been making changes in its management, product, and vision, as the company strives to move from being number two in the contact center market (according to data from Synergy Research Group and Gartner), to the number one player.

Recent management changes include a new SVP for the Collaboration Technology Group, Rowan Trollope, who recently joined Cisco from Symantec. John Hernandez now owns not just Customer Collaboration, but Collaboration Business Applications, as Laurent Philonenko moves into the CTO position. Kudos to John "the Energizer Bunny" Hernandez on this well-deserved recognition of his hard work in leading the Customer Collaboration team. Chris Botting has taken over some of John's previous responsibilities, including focusing on growing Cisco's share of the contact center market, an effort which, according to the figures presented, has been a success.

Another area of change is the company's focus on "quality." Acknowledging that previous products were buggy and not always up to par, a big focus has been on improving quality and reducing product defects. The increased effort on improving product quality resulted in a record low defect count. In addition, if a bug is found in the code, the team has 21 days to fix it.

In terms of product, the big emphasis is on Packaged Contact Center Enterprise (Packaged CCE), which was introduced a year ago. As the name indicates, this is a pre-packaged or bundled contact center solution, providing a "replicable, lower-touch approach for high volume," with a 95% SKU reduction.

Supporting up to 1,000 agents, Packaged CCE features a simplified management interface and simplified web administration, making it easier to configure new agents. Multichannel capabilities, reporting (CUIC), call control (integrated UCM), self service (CVP), outbound, and more are all included in a single-box deployment. Going forward, the sales emphasis will be on Packaged CCE for companies that need the enterprise capabilities, making it easier for partners to sell and for customers to purchase, deploy, and manage.

The most intriguing area of change and emphasis is on what Cisco calls "the Internet of Everything" and the role that customer collaboration will play in this new area. We're living in a highly-connected world, which is getting more and more connected by the minute--our cars, pill bottles, thermostats, etc. With sensors being built into these products, there are more connections and more opportunities for companies to do more proactive care. The Internet of Everything focuses on people; things (smart grids, sensors, appliances, cars, etc); data (customer records, employee profiles, sensor data, etc); and process (such as business decisions).

Here's a scenario: Your OnStar-equipped car gets hit while in the parking lot; OnStar notifies your insurance company, starts an insurance claim process, and notifies a claims agent who proactively reaches out to you--all before you even know that the car has been hit. OK, this scares me a bit, but you get the idea.

Cisco is continuing its momentum in the customer collaboration area, and the Internet of Everything looks to be very promising--until our appliances start talking back to us.

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