The thing that’s sticking with me so far at the Collaboration Consultant and Analyst Summit in San Francisco is, I’m afraid, a lack of attention to detail on what the vast array of fabulous tools and capabilities are intended to accomplish: getting jobs done, making decisions, solving problems.
There is, make no mistake, plenty of attention being paid to the many, varied and enlightening benefits of collaboration tools – greater efficiency, better productivity, customer intimacy, etc. And the capabilities of the new products and solutions seem superb – certainly a more cohesive set than we’ve seen in the past. Also, I know that Cisco’s go-to-market approach is very much about business transformation, and getting partners to sell results-oriented solutions, rather than products.
But what’s missing in a lot of the messaging we’ve heard here at the Summit is the endgame. John Chambers asserted in his lead-off presentation, “The structure of business is changing;” however, it should also be noted that the objective of business is not.
In the collaborative environment, what is the structure? Who is making decisions? How are the results of collaboration being derived? What guidance are suppliers that stand to benefit from the sale of collaboration tools giving to customers on driving new business success from a new, collaborative, business structure? It is, of course, about the results, as I’m sure all businesses are telling their suppliers every day. The enhancements, integrations, mash-ups, innovations, deployment options, platforms, architectures, partnerships and new products on display here this week are meaningless unless they deliver those results.
The benefits of collaboration tools and processes are assumed—perhaps too much. There is a gap between fantastic collaborative environments, and their implied power, and actually enabling better business. “Bringing people together” is good, but getting them to actually do something is better.
So, I’d like to see Cisco (and all others in the market) focus a bit more on the results, and then back up into how those results are achieved with collaborative tools. I fully understand that Cisco (and all others in the market) feed their development with business results in mind, but it is important that the messaging to partners and customers does the same. Flip the conversation around. Don’t start the conversation with solutions…start it, instead, with the problems.