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Walkthrough Wednesdays

Extraordinary Summit on Collaboration


Los Angeles is an extraordinary city with extraordinary people. And this week, it was even more extraordinary to be in my hometown of LA where we hosted this year’s Cisco Collaboration Summit. LA is where we built the world’s biggest airplane, the world’s biggest freeway system, and epic movies with the world’s biggest stars. And of course, the Happiest Place on Earth.

This is a town of big dreamers with big ideas, making it a perfect place to bring together customers, partners, analysts, and consultants to talk about big ideas in collaboration.

And now is the time for big ideas. We all know companies can only do so much with cost cutting. It’s important, but in our global economy, the only true way to differentiate and compete is through innovation.

How do you get to that innovation? You help people collaborate. You empower people with the tools they need to engage. Your people are the source of innovation. That’s’ why our focus this year is all about Empower, Engage, Innovate.

We spent two days in LA exploring this theme, looking at ways to:

  • Empower
  • Engage
  • Innovate

There were so many examples of extraordinary ideas and innovation in how we collaborate, and how we can collaborate going forward. Some examples from this week:

  • In his opening keynote OJ Winge, senior vice president and general manager of the Cisco Collaboration Technology Group, spoke about how the future workspace will blend physical and virtual realities – creating an environment that is pervasive and adaptive. It’s seeing it that makes it extraordinary. For instance, OJ demonstrated how we can take advantage of the global positioning and gyroscopic features of mobile devices to augment and control our presence information in tools like Cisco WebEx Social and Cisco Jabber. My presence can show you not only when I’m available, but where I am – my office, a conference room, a ski lodge… If I put my phone face up on my desk, I’m available. Flip it over and it switches my presence to “do not disturb.” He also showed a conceptual office where closing the door changed his presence to “in a meeting” and he could use a screen on the wall to check social feeds, watch video, and move content or conversations to a desktop monitor with a simple swipe.
  • As people increasingly implement and rely on video, there’s a natural concern about bandwidth. Delving into the more technical side of the video equation with Snorre Kjesbu, vice president and general manager of the TelePresence Systems Business Unit, we shared the first demo showing H.265 and H.264 video side-by-side. Two screens, two calls running 720p30 video – sharp images, no visible difference. So what? Bandwidth is the difference. The H.265 call uses half the bandwidth -- 500kbps -- but delivers all the experience. We are currently working within the ISO and ITU standards bodies; ratification of the initial H.265 standard (officially known as HEVC) is expected in early 2013. Work is only now beginning on the scalable extensions of H.265 in the standards body and Cisco will continue to be actively involved.
  • Great tools with great features are powerful, but when we can simplify the user experience we’re enabling people to put more effort into what they want to do instead of how they have to do it. A majority of our partners want to provide this level of functionality, but don’t want to handle the complex programming work themselves. Good news, companies like Zimbra and Esnatech are using our software developer kits (SDKs) and application programming interfaces (APIs) to build access to our tools from the applications most important to your users. We saw how you can initiate a video call in Jabber from a Gmail message or maintain an ongoing message thread with a document being edited in WebEx Social. But the biggest audience reaction came with using an e-mail message in Gmail on a laptop to initiate a telepresence call with an EX Series desktop endpoint.

There were more great presentations, but the best part comes from the collaboration. The extraordinary conversations sparked by those presentations. It’s those conversations and the connections that started here that will continue long past our LA experience – over WebEx, Jabber, Telepresence.

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