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The KISP Principle: Cisco Unleashes its Collaboration Strategy

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Last week I had the opportunity to attend Cisco’s Collaboration Summit in Boca Raton, FL. These are typically large events with attendees comprising the analyst and consultant communities as well as Cisco’s distribution partners.  As usual, Cisco held nothing back at this event including conducting the event at a first-class venue and providing no-holds-barred access to executives from Cisco’s Collaboration business units.

The overriding theme of the Collaboration Summit reminded me of a well-known acronym that originated with the U.S. Navy in 1960 and gained a
great deal of popularity during the software development days of the 1980s.  The KISS principle, which stands for “Keep It Simple, Stupid” was adopted by 1980s software engineers who were looking for ways to design software that would be intuitive for the knowledge worker in the typical business setting.

The theme of the Cisco Collaboration Summit was “Keep it Simple and Pervasive,” which I have dubbed the Cisco KISP principle.  The KISP principle was pervasive at this year’s event with emphasis on the underlying theme of simplifying the collaboration infrastructure through unification, simplifying the IT experience through ease of deployment in each product family, and creating a high-value collaboration experience for users that becomes pervasive throughout the enterprise.

Since my research practice focuses on the contact center and customer collaboration fields, the sessions covering these topics were naturally of greatest interest to me. Again, Cisco made executives from these business units available during deep-dive sessions for consultants and analysts as well as in general session panel discussions.

In the contact center world, Cisco’s KISP strategy is also being expanded to serve the mid-market – a market segment that has traditionally been underserved but represents a significant opportunity for any vendor with products appropriate for the unique needs of these users.  In order to reach this market, Cisco has packaged its Contact Center Enterprise (CCE) solution, greatly simplifying deployment and administration in recognition of the limited resources of most mid-market contact centers while maintaining essential applications in demand by this segment.

If there was a second theme of the Collaboration Summit it would have been solutions delivery through the cloud.  The importance of the cloud in the contact center hasn’t been lost on Cisco although I was encouraged to see that they are still committed to premise solutions.  While the cloud has been getting the lion’s share of headlines, premise equipment still gets the lion’s share of the business. 

There have been some changes among the ranks of Cisco management in the last couple of years, but the underlying company message of the Collaboration Summit has remained remarkably consistent year over year.  Cisco is committed to the contact center industry, not as an add-on to their networking infrastructure but as a suite of solutions that stands on its own merits.

The Cisco Collaboration Summit didn’t change my opinion of Cisco.  Rather, it reinforced my opinion that Cisco is a company on the move in the contact center industry.  Compared to the other large companies serving the industry, it stands alone in its financial stability, its management
consistency, and its ability to execute on its well-defined strategy.  If the objective of the Cisco Collaboration Summit was to showcase a well-run company with an innovative vision of the future of customer collaboration and enterprise communications, the event did an outstanding job of accomplishing that objective. 

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