Cisco Systems doesn’t just sell equipment and services like its Telepresence or WebEx suites that allow people to connect and collaborate over long distances — Rebecca Jacoby, the company’s chief information officer, says Cisco lives and breathes this kind of transformation in the way that people work. If it weren’t for these kinds of tools, she says — as well as blogs and wikis and other social media — the networking-equipment maker would never have been able to grow as large or as quickly as it has.
“In my opinion, it is the only thing that has allowed us to scale as far as we have without increasing our costs,” Jacoby said in a recent interview with me. “We’ve been able to take advantage of more opportunities in different markets than we would have been able to without these tools.” She added that CEO John Chambers has worked hard to create a dynamic and networked organization, and using new communication and collaboration tools is a key part of being able to do that. It affects everything “from the way we move information around and how we share that information differently — it’s mobile and global, and it’s wikis and blogs and IM and all of that,” Jacoby said.
I’ll be talking with Jacoby about these and other aspects of the changing nature of work and what we call the “human cloud” next week, at GigaOM’s Net:Work conference, along with a host of other great speakers. You can register here.
The crucial part about using these new technologies, the Cisco CIO said, is that they allow the company to “create a global pool of talent and resources that can come together dynamically to respond to any situation,” regardless of whether the key players are in North America or Europe or on some other continent. By using video and telepresence, experts from within the technology company can share their expertise more easily with others and extend their reach and knowledge throughout the organization. “It’s not something that happens overnight,” says Jacoby. “It’s iterative. But eventually people learn to collaborate differently — you have to change the culture.”
John Hagel of Deloitte’s Center for the Edge made a similar point about the need for a comprehensive change in culture in an interview I had with him recently, which I wrote about here. I’ll be talking with Hagel and his co-chairman John Seely Brown — former director of Xerox’s PARC center — at the Net:Work conference as well, along with a number of other great speakers. More details here.
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