Cisco Quad - Enterprise Collaboration and More

21 Jun 2010

Cisco Systems publicly launched Quad, its Enterprise Collaboration Platform, at the recently completed Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston. I had the opportunity to discuss Quad and the development process with Jim Grubb, Cisco VP of Corporate Communications. Jim may be better known as Cisco's Chief Demonstration Officer, providing fascinating demos supporting John Chambers' mesmerizing keynotes. And actually Quad has a long history in Jim's demos, which frequently feature new tools being developed, tested and deployed for use within Cisco. This discussion followed a presentation about how Cisco's IT department participated in the genesis of Quad by developing a collaboration platform for Cisco's internal use - across the company. Cisco has a long history of "Cisco on Cisco" - using its own technologies to power its own business. As Jim related, Cisco uses its own technologies to deliver differential advantage internally, beginning with its use of the internet, over a dozen years ago, to do away with paper forms for everything from customer orders to supplies to HR on-boarding, as well as the then much ballyhooed rapid book closing which allowed Cisco to report quarterly results in less than two weeks from quarter close.

As many are aware, in addition to entering many market adjacencies (UC, Telepresence, Consumer Markets, Cable TV, Unified Computing, etc.) to grow its business, Cisco has also changed its management structure from command and control to a network of cross functional councils, boards and committees. Jim related that when Cisco needed to acquire a debt rating, when it chose to borrow funds to acquire Scientific Atlanta, as it had never borrowed before, the debt rating agency said that Cisco's presentation about this new management model greatly aided the favorable debt rating it was given.

Returning to Quad - after being incubated within the Cisco IT shop, using the aforementioned Councils and Boards, the concept became "productized." Quad is based upon linking people, information and communities with an individual's "My View" at its center. Quad is accessed via the web thru most popular browsers. Quad couples Cisco mantra of: Connect - Communicate - Collaborate with the need to continuously Learn. Certainly Quad will evolve as early customers' provide feedback through its sales and partner teams. Quad is an extensible enterprise collaboration portal providing: communities, enterprise search, micro-blogging, contacts, news feeds and alerts, and connections to unified communications capabilities such as Voice, Video, Messaging, Mail and IM. Quad is in early customer trials and will have limited availability later this summer in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia/New Zealand.

Interestingly, the theme of IT involvement in the selection, implementation, culture transformation and deployment, (not necessarily in that sequence), of social software within enterprises was a major discussion topic across the conference - several sessions and lots of discussions centered on the role of IT in Social Software... Wow - that's certainly very different than the geeky advanced studies in computer science that populated my master's program - IT being involved in the culture of organizations... This could become a major theme/issue in the continued rollout of UC and collaboration solutions - how active should IT be in this transformation of business? I know where I come out - what about you? Please me know by emailing me at [email protected].


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