I had inadvertently missed John Chamber’s keynote a couple weeks back at the 2014 Cisco Collaboration Summit in Los Angeles. It wasn’t my doing. There was a maintenance issue with the plane and it was the first (early) snowfall in Toronto so instead of leaving at 8:00am we left at 11:30am. You see I was attending the summit in my role as Executive Advisor in ICT and Management with FOX GROUP Technology Consulting – Roberta Fox was unable to attend.
Rushing to the hotel, I joined the keynote audience just as Aaron Levie, Cofounder and CEO of Box, took the stage. He was talking about how Box was going to deeply integrate their content collaboration technology into Cisco’s newly announced business collaboration and communication app/platform called Project Squared. The tools were to be designed and built with the end user in mind to simplify collaboration (read: reduce “friction”) while “virtualizing the conference room”. Users could work together in a comfortable way across all spaces and platforms – from pocket device to telepresence suite. How was this to be accomplished? Software. Interesting first 30 minutes. I am at a Cisco conference and they are talking about software enabling collaboration? I expect this from Box having used their multi-platform service but not from Cisco, they usually lead with hardware.
Up next was Rowan Trollope, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Cisco Collaboration Technology Group. Long title but it didn’t impact his delivery, he went straight to the point. Cisco was changing the way they were doing things. They were committed to focus on collaborating with customers to improve their products and services in an iterative fashion – in the direction customers were asking for. Wow, this guy was talking my language (was he from Cisco, he was wearing jeans?). Making use of shorter development cycles Cisco would improve existing products and services using a “build – measure – learn – improve – start again” cycle where partners and end users would contribute feedback, ideas and needs. “We can’t deliver great experiences when we only upgrade software every 2 years,” he conceded. This included cloud services too. “Building modern cloud software that iterates with speed is essential. You can only do this by having software that is upgradeable and has built-in metrics”. I couldn’t take notes fast enough at this point.