I’ve been on a journey with my team over the last 18 months to redefine our approach to video collaboration. Vowels form the nucleus of any word, so I call this the A-E-I-O-U approach as it represents the core principles of video collaboration.
Every product we introduced this year has these principles as its backbone. If a product idea doesn’t meet this requirement, it doesn’t even make it to blueprint. The feedback we’ve received from customers and partners tells me we are exactly on the right track.
So what does A-E-I-O-U stand for?
- A – Affordable
- E – Easy
- I – Innovative
- O – Outstanding Design
- U – User Centric
Sounds pretty rudimentary, but it’s not easy to do in reality. It’s like producing a performance engine that’s easy on the eyes with do-it-yourself sensibility, a bunch of really cool features and pragmatic pricing – all in one product. A handful of companies have been able to do this, and Cisco has joined that short list with our latest video collaboration products.How do we know A-E-I-O-U is working?
Affordable: I know we’ve hit the mark on this because I haven’t had a single discussion about price in the past 7 to 8 months. If you recall, every product we’ve rolled out since March 2014 has come to market with more features than its predecessor and a list price that’s 20% to 40% less. That’s pragmatic pricing, so people know they’re getting a great deal. No haggling needed.
Easy to sell, buy, install, use and service: We’ve made significant improvements on the install and use part: touch control, no-brainer cabling, WebEx integration, and less than 10 minutes from box to call. People really love this last one. We saw proof of it recently with a customer, a mid-sized country, who chose Cisco because our products allowed regional embassy staff to install the equipment themselves rather than sending specialized staff around the world. That’s resounding testament to our easy strategy. The other parts of easy – sell, buy and service – are equally important to us, which is why we’ve significantly simplified our portfolio as the first step. We’re still hard at work at the others to make “easy” the fabric of our complete product life cycle.
Innovation: We’re still talking about technology, so we can’t skimp on innovation. The latest Cisco video collaboration products demonstrate state-of-the-art video technology:
- H.265 for bandwidth savings
- Intelligent Proximity to incorporate mobile devices
- Intelligent Audio lets users hear just what they see and canceling out what’s superfluous
- SpeakerTrack to give the active speaker the prominent view
- Craftsmanship for great design and cost-effective production
We’ve delivered the best technology the market has to offer across the board, and the proof is in the pudding: The vast of majority of our customers have ordered speaker-tracking technology as part of our high-end room systems.
Outstanding Design: What we mean by “outstanding” is making our products so approachable that people are drawn to them and are driven to collaborate. We did this with fine craftsmanship and a maniacal focus to detail. For example, we paid as much attention to the back of our products as we did to the front … so much so, that we call it “the second front.” And the industry congratulated us for this. We received the Red Dot design product across our new product line earlier this year.
User-centric: Our approach to building products is user in; we start with trying to meet what the customer expects. My 7 and 9 year-old daughters are often the toughest customers. They’ll tell me something is “broken” if they can’t use it the way they would expect to. The SX10 is my favorite user-in product, because it’s almost dummy proof. We have a customer who prefers to put the SX10 on the table instead of on top of a flat-panel display, the way it’s intended. But if you happen to place the unit upside down, the camera is smart enough to correct the image for you … because an upside down video image would be a communications fail.
So there you have it – the A-E-I-O-U approach to video collaboration – elegant in its simplicity, just like our latest line of products. This formula has been working great for us on the development side of things and for our customers. How is it working for you?
This is just the beginning. Tune in to our webcast on Nov. 17, 2014 for a special announcement.