Three years ago Rebecca Jacoby, an SVP and CIO at Cisco attended a meeting of her peers at large companies and discovered that very few were using instant messaging pervasively in their organizations. Fast forward to today when few people would imagine life without IM, either in the workplace or the home. Such rapid adoption of collaboration technology represents an opportunity that Jacoby called, “[T]he biggest transformation since e-commerce in the mid ’90s, related to how a set of technologies can change the way you work and change your business model.”
At the GigaOM Net:Work event today, Jacoby said Cisco’s adoption has come from employees and also from the top-down. She says many of the technologies they have adopted came about as folks who were using it in smaller groups sought to scale it out. At that point, her organization became involved, trying to think strategically about how they could deploy the various collaboration systems without causing compliance or security problems. And deploying such products correctly has led to big advantages in terms of cost savings and improved productivity.
Jacoby pointed to a virtual sales meeting Cisco holds, that enabled about 10 times as many people to participate for a third of the cost. She also pulled out Cisco’s favorite example of collaboration savings — Telepresence. The company’s high-end videoconferencing hardware and software has saved the company more than a billion dollars in the last few years with about 75 percent of that savings coming from a reduction in travel costs and a quarter coming from a boost in productivity. No wonder Cisco thinks collaboration is going to be a $34 billion business.