The News: This week Cisco’s Collaboration Group has outlined the technologies and considerations to create a blueprint that enables the remote worker while also paving the way for a safer return to office. In this research note we assess the news and provide perspective. You can also read the news from Cisco here.
Analyst Take: While we are all still adjusting to the changes that have been brought to how we work in the wake of Covid-19, we have hit an inflection point that requires we stop longing for the past and start accepting change as part of our now and our future.
While the human connection is certainly missed, we have enjoyed a rapid acceleration of technology in the past 6 months that mirrors what we would have experienced over the next 5 years even had the pandemic not hit. This is digital transformation. The ability to do more, faster, enabled by modernized technologies like cloud, AI, collaboration and connectivity.
Cisco’s Webex has seen significant growth throughout the pandemic. As have the likes of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, 8×8, Ring Central, Pexip and a plethora of other tools. This is driven by necessity, but as people use the tools more and more there has grown a realization that these tools are often an enhancement or improvement on the past.
This week, when Cisco SVP, Javed Khan, rolled out the company’s new blueprint for hybrid workplaces, I was impressed by the company’s direction–It’s time to start thinking transformation and understand that connecting with the workers more holistically beyond just being a tool, is going to be the path forward.
The new blue print focused on four areas. Per the Cisco announcement it broke down as follows.
Empower the remote worker. Enable remote workers with personalized and engaging experiences; help them raise their game, wherever their work happens.
Safe return to the office. For employees heading back into the office, ensure a safe while still productive environment by providing touchless and intelligent experiences.
Develop meaningful customer relationships. Continue to nurture your customer relationships and ensure that they can reach you any way, any time.
Make I.T. hum. Because IT is key to supporting the transition to this hybrid future, the right management and decision-making tools can make IT hum.
To some extent, these four pillars are well understood by business executives and enterprise IT. Not necessarily some shocking revelation. However, this is what people care about. How can I work more effectively, more safely, in a human/humane fashion without having to become onsite tech support for my remote work environment.
This is also the drive of the company’s announcements for its July/August period. To review the specifics of the announcements. There is a good release that provides the updates that can be found here.
My perspective is the announcements provided material updates to the tools and tech that enabled greater quality connection, less physical interaction with the devices making workspaces safer, improved data visibility and access to enhance customer interactions while providing new layers of manageability for IT.
Overall Impressions of New Cisco Hybrid Workplace Blueprint
This new direction from Cisco is sage. It comes at a time of uncertainty and we know that going forward, for at least the foreseeable future, that work won’t look anything like it used to.
The hybrid work experience, school experience and so many other daily endeavors will be different. To enable this, we need to rethink work. We need to consider the tools, technology, training and support that is required to optimize work. This isn’t just about productivity either. It is also about engagement, satisfaction, connection and community.
The times we are living in are challenging. There are no easy answers. We have to think about short and long-term well-being. And we also need to continue to drive successful businesses that are powering the now.
Any tech company that is serious about powering the enterprise and/or the SMB, needs to be talking about how to bring a future of work that while different, is equally or more satisfying than the pre-pandemic normal so many of us long for.
Futurum Research provides industry research and analysis. These columns are for educational purposes only and should not be considered in any way investment advice.