I attended Cisco’s annual Collaboration Summit in the US two weeks ago and would like to share my three key takeaways from the event with you. Cisco told the audience that it’s going to:

  • Focus on mobility. Cisco announced the launch of several new products that support its “mobile first” strategy and aim to reduce the complexity and effort required to securely connect a remote user to the corporate network. The products that the company unveiled include:
    • Intelligent Proximity: a mobility solution for connecting corporate communications equipment with mobile devices. The solution will automatically connect a company’s videoconferencing equipment with users’ smartphones whenever the two come in close proximity, providing users with a host of multimedia collaboration capabilities.
    • Expressway: a network edge gateway that recognizes and automatically authenticates external connections with Cisco devices and applications without the need for a VPN or device registration.
  • Promote infrastructure integration. Backed by a collaboration infrastructure that can be completely virtualized, “Cloud Fusion” is Cisco’s strategy to integrate different cloud and on-premises infrastructures in order to achieve higher synergies and offer more flexibility and deployment options to customers. Organizations can opt to integrate existing on-premises enterprise infrastructure, Cisco’s cloud infrastructure via WebEx cloud, Cisco partners’ cloud services through the HCS offering, and third-party cloud services in various combinations.
  • Drive innovation to enhance the user experience. User-centric innovation underlies Cisco’s product development strategy. While Cisco is consciously making efforts to improve the customer experience and include more functionality, it’s standardizing the look and feel of its collaboration clients (like WebEx and Jabber) so that users get the exact same experience across all Cisco solutions regardless of the type of device or the mode of communication (IM, video).

Several times during the event, Rowan Trollope, the head of Cisco’s Collaboration business, reinforced the need to drive simplicity in the company’s collaboration portfolio. Whether it’s simplicity in use, a single user interface for WebEx and Jabber, or ease of use in systems management via enhancements to the Prime Collaboration solution, Cisco is focusing on reducing system complexity and enhancing the usability of its solutions. Fusing cloud capabilities with on-premises infrastructures will not only give customers simpler pricing schedules, it will also allow them to choose the best deployment option for their organizations and leverage their existing hardware assets while making the transition to the cloud. New, affordably priced endpoints like TelePresence MX300 and 7800 IP phones will give customers more value for money while also providing a broader range of functionality.

The message underlying all of the various product launches and forward-looking statements made at the event is that Cisco is going to leverage the strengths and synergies of its existing portfolio to deliver innovative capabilities. Integrating and improving the solutions it already has will allow Cisco to keep its portfolio simple and affordable while delivering a superior user experience. With the technology in place, the company will now focus on expanding its collaboration install base and is gearing up to compete with the likes of Microsoft Lync.