Author Archives: techdaddy14648

My wife and daughter Spark a picture miles apart

My wife and 4-year-old daughter recently drew a picture together.

My daughter was home in California; my wife was on a trip to Arizona.

So how did that picture come to be?

Cisco Spark’s free, intuitive group-sharing technology. Tech that gets out of the way to make room for easy conversation, eye contact across the miles, and plenty of 4-year-old giggles. The drawing itself was performed on one end from an iPad, the other from an iPhone.

Cisco Spark had just launched its new “whiteboarding” capability on January 24. Whiteboarding sounds a lot like “drawing” to me, as does it to my 4-year-old. So I opened up a Spark Space, called my wife in the app (we already use it for messaging), and handed an Apple Pencil to my little girl. And away they went!

Seeing my daughter drawing hearts and my wife coloring them in helped ease the pain of my wife traveling away from home for medical treatment. It helped mom and daughter feel closer during a difficult time. It helped me feel like my wife was able to share in daily activities, even though she had to be away for a few weeks.

Thank you, Cisco Spark, for letting my wife be a part of precious family moments… even when she was away from home.

Here’s a quick video of this interaction. I hope you enjoy!

Cisco Spark averts apocalypse, lets me take kids to school

I lost my cell phone last night.
In 2010, those words would have sent me into a panic requiring me to rocket  the lost phone crisis to top priority. Like, I-know-I-should-take-kids-to-school-but-exactly-what-are-truancy-guidelines-during-the-apocalypse priority.
This is 2017, though, and I use Cisco Spark.
So I got to drop my kids off at school. Cool. Collected. No Mad Max apocalypse in sight.
How, you ask?
Because of Spark, most of what would previously have been text messages with coworkers has now moved to 1:1 or group conversations (AKA spaces).
Unlike text messages, Spark conversations are available on all my devices, regardless of what device the other person is using. This means I get a Spark message on my desktop and laptop, just like on my (currently lost) phone.
Plus, most coworkers call my work number, which rings through to Spark due to my setup as a Spark Hybrid user.
This means my text messages and phone calls land on ALL my devices, not just my work or cell phone.
My cell may be lost, but my communication continues seamlessly. 
If you haven’t checked out Cisco Spark yet, I’d recommend you go sign up for a free account at web.ciscospark.com.  Anyone can get an account, and you can use it today to start using messaging, video conferencing, whiteboarding, and file sharing from any of your devices.
My recommendation would be to start with the text messaging conversations you have with co-workers, and have those conversations over Cisco Spark.  That way all your conversations will be on all your devices. And when you eventually break or lose your smartphone (and you know you will), it won’t be the apocalypse.
Which means you too can continue your life without panicking and drop your kids off at school in the morning before dealing with your lost phone.
Thanks, Cisco Spark, for averting the end of the world, one lost cell phone at a time.

VAMPIRE COWBOYS & THE MAGIC OF THE SPARK BOARD

My wife and 10-year-old son just drew a picture together. No big deal, right?
He was drawing on a whiteboard in Presidio’s Newport Beach office.
She was drawing on her iPhone SE in the backseat of a car crossing the dusty no-man’s-land between California and Arizona.
Oh, and they were laughing and seeing each other in-app the whole time.
(My mother-in-law joined in on the laughter, too.)
But wait. There’s more.
There was no planning and zero training for this. They opened an app and just started using it.
How is this possible, you say?
We use Cisco Spark. It’s that simple.
Here’s how it happened.
I brought my son to work. It was going to be a fun day since we were installing Presidio’s Newport Beach Spark Board, and I wanted him to experience it. (Full disclosure: We played hooky for this.)
We walked in and and the board was on the wall asking for a 16-digit code, which I read aloud. My son typed in the code and hit the checkmark, figured out what time zone we were in and hit another checkmark, then hit a checkmark one last time to register.
(You read that right: a 10-year-old set up the Presidio Spark Board. It’s that easy.)
Spark Board Setup - 10 year old proof.

Spark Board Setup – 10 year old proof.

Less than a minute later, the Spark Board was up and running. A few minutes after that, it grabbed a newer version of code and upgraded itself. (Each upgrade took about 2 minutes, and it’s upgraded a total of four times since I had one of the first boards off the manufacturing floor.) We were ready.
On my iPhone, I opened the Spark space I use to keep in touch with my family. Yes, my wife, son, parents, brothers and in-laws are all in a “Miller Family” team in Spark. We have several “spaces” for different topics (Healthy Encouragement, Recipes, Harry Potter book club, etc.). For this conversation, I opened the general discussion space and within seconds had access to all the files in the space.
Best of all: I could whiteboard with everyone, and everyone could see and edit the whiteboard.
In real time.
From any device.
From there, my son grabbed the Spark Board pen, and he was off to the races. So my wife could experience what he was drawing (a vampire cowboy), I tapped the whiteboard twice to open a call for everyone in the space. My brother joined from his car, then my wife joined, then my mother-in-law. The party was on within seconds.
Spark Board Pen
By tapping “Share live” on the whiteboard, I was then able to push the whiteboard to everyone’s device (Android phone for my brother, iPhone SE for my wife and mother-in-law). They saw my son drawing live as he worked away on his masterpiece.
Once the vampire cowboy was completed…
The famous Vampire Cowboy...

The famous Vampire Cowboy…

…my son opened a new whiteboard and started sketching a building and nukes.
My wife (who had quietly itched to make the vampire cowboy fall in love) could no longer contain herself from balancing out the apocalyptic art theme. With one tap, she went from watching to editing the whiteboard. She drew daisies on the left while he drew nukes on the right.
Nukes on the right, daisies on the left = balance in the world?

Nukes on the right, daisies on the left = balance in the world?

If any of you have ever had kids to the office and they’ve drawn on the whiteboard, you’ve had to take pictures to preserve the memory. Not any more!  We left the office, and the drawings live on in the Spark space — still available to be continued at any time, by anyone in the space, on any device.
After a life spent in technology, I’ve come to think of technology as more of a barrier to creativity than an enabler.  It is often too complex, too cumbersome, and simply gets in the way of the creative process.  Spark changed that for me, not just because of the Spark Board, but because of the intuitive whiteboarding capability Cisco has infused into every Spark app. You don’t need a Spark Board to whiteboard with teammates anywhere, any time, and on any device.  It just makes it a LOT more fun.
I’m really excited about Spark and the Spark Board. For those who have been using Spark already, it is a natural extension of the app. For those who have been missing out on Cisco Spark, it’s time to jump in! If you’d like a demo of the Spark Board, reach out and I’d be happy to show it off to you! If you want a free account in Cisco Spark, sign up here, and hit me up in-app at jomiller@presidio.com.

Cisco’s Golf Game – Collab 10

With Collab Release 10 Cisco has hit a par, birdie, and one ball is still in the air.

The par is Collaboration Edge.  Candidly – this capability is required to be on an even playing field with Microsoft Lync.  This capability allows an employee to take their client from the office to their house, to anywhere in-between – and have it just work.  Cisco’s previous position was to require users to use a VPN client – whether theirs or someone else’s, to connect to the on premise equipment including Unified Communications Manager, Unity Connection, and more.  I’m thrilled and relieved that Cisco has finally relented on that view to allow employees to have a client that just works regardless of where they are.  Matt Rehm did a fantastic write-up about that here.

The birdie – at least in theory is Intelligent Proximity.  Intelligent Proximity is the name given to a set of features including the ability to dynamically synch your mobile device contacts with an endpoint, the ability to use a mobile device to dynamically control an endpoint, and the ability for an endpoint to know you are near and use your mobile device as a second screen for content sharing.  Features like these are what customers ask for, that previously we’ve had to nod and smile in agreement that that would be cool.  Now we have the ability to say yes – you can make video a personal experience, using your personal mobile devices.  Let’s face it – would I rather have an interface for a endpoint on my personal device that I’m attached to and carry everywhere – or on an interface that everyone shares.  Intelligent Proximity is using technology not expected today – it is not bluetooth, it is another technology that has not yet been announced.  Imagine for a minute, the experience Intelligent Proximity offers you.  You walk into a conference room, and launch an app on your iPad.  The app automatically pairs with and figures out which room you are in, so when you call the person or bridge using your iPad, you are automatically controlling the endpoint you are sitting in front of.  You place a call using your call history, or by searching in a directory.  Once on the call, the other party starts presenting.  The slides being presented are not only pushed to the conference screen, but to your mobile devices as well.  If you want to grab a copy of a slide – you simply capture it on your mobile device.  This is fantastic functionality – that has the potential to give users a new and intuitive experience – something lacking in video conferencing for the last 20 years.

For now – Intelligent Proximity is:

  •      Sharing of contacts with a room system video endpoint
  •      Sharing of contacts with a personal device like a high end phone/video endpoint
  •      Ability to dynamically control an endpoint from a phone app
  •      Ability to view and interact with content while on a video call
  •      Ability to control cell phone from a desk phone device – just like you would in your car

I say this is a birdie in theory because until the product ships, it would be naive to call it a success.  I can say the demo was a smashing success at the Collab Partner Summit, and will be the focus of much of the “buzz” at Enterprise Connect in March.

The ball still in the air is Jabber Guest.  Jabber Guest is Cisco’s long anticipated offering to match and surpass Skype’s simplicity for connecting consumers with enterprises.  The vision is simple – connect people using a web browser.  No more need for specialized hardware.  Instead use native browser capabilities across any device and any platform.  Skip the need to install special software, or even plugins.  Connect grandma and her investment advisor as simply and richly as grandma calling her grandkids on FaceTime.  Connect your customers to your support staff as easily and richly as they call their kids.  The reason this ball is in the air is we’ll need to see how the market really reacts to this in the short term.  I have no doubt this will be important in the future – but neither was Apple doubtful about tablets when they launched Newton.  Is the market ready to adopt this NOW?  We’ll know better in 18 months.  Amazon is trying it out with Mayday, but they have the advantage of owning all the assets in the conversation.  Cisco is looking to provide the platform, and wants their customers to provide the use cases.

The Eye of the Storm

I’m looking forward to the Cisco Partner Collaboration Summit this week.  Not only for the technology, but also for the interaction with key Cisco Execs who are setting the vision and driving the strategy.  Cisco seems to be in an interesting place right now in Collaboration.  To be honest, it feels like we are in a lull, kind of like the eye of the storm knowing that things are about the change drastically just like they did in the past.

When Microsoft first entered the UC market a few years back, there was a lot of noise, positioning, and preparation for “The coming battle of platforms”. The initial hype and excitement seems to be behind us, and Microsoft looks to be positioning on several fronts.  Do they finally become a hardware company? Who is their new chief and what is the long term vision? How do they keep desktop relevance?  I continue to be interested in what their next move is because it is now a fact that they are in my accounts, positioning for the same platform as I am.  This is no longer “news” – it is simply the competitive landscape.  I’ve watched Lync give their best pitch and understand that it isn’t some magical software that is going to have my cake and eat it too.  The market seems to sense that Lync isn’t ready, but they still aren’t committed to Jabber.

Our clients continue to move forward in deployments, however all deployments wrestle with the “on prem or cloud” decision at some level.  This too is slowing the market down as manufacturers, partners, and organizations reassess the overall delivery of IT Services.  Talk about big questions for an IT Consultant.

As we exit the eye of the storm and move past this “reassess” stage, what do you think will be top priority for Cisco and others?  (Martin deBeers just walked past, and while I could have asked him, I figured he’d be badgered with questions starting soon enough, so I let him off the hook.)

Everyone is Missing the Boat

After sitting through keynotes by nearly all the main manufacturers at UC Strategies this week, I come away saddened that collaboration vendors are startlingly blind to the obvious.

Three quick questions for you to answer:
#1 – How many times have you used text (SMS) messaging on your cell phone?
#2 – How many people do you know that use SMS as their primary communication medium?
#3 – How many large UC vendors are embedding SMS into their solutions to allow employees to use SMS as a medium for normal communications?

Now let’s compare your answers to industry stats:

#1 – SMS is huge, and getting bigger. While some argue that apps on top of phones are overtaking SMS, that report includes apps (notably iMessage) that emulates a SMS interaction, and falls back to SMS in the event the app’s message doesn’t go through.
Informa estimates that SMS Messaging to reach for 19.5 BILLION messages per DAY in 2013.

#2 – In ALL age categories – CNN reports that Americans are sending and receiving more text messages than phone calls on their mobile phones. The younger the age group, the more dramatic the ratio (88 text vs. 17 calls for ages 18-29).
Interestingly a TIME survey shows that 32% of respondents would rather use text messages instead of voice calls. Either that means people wish they could use video as well, or not everyone realizes how much they actually are using texts!

#3 – According to my research – no manufacturer has embedded SMS into their native chat clients, or included SMS capability in their “Single” number forwarding/forking/etc. capabilities. Know of any that I’m missing?

Planning to upgrade to the iPhone5?

You may be planning to upgrade to an iPhone 5 on the rumored release date of September 21st (announcement expected September 12th).
If you don’t know what to do with your existing phone, check out www.gazelle.com which buys used tech.

As you know the current phones will drop in value as soon as the iPhone 5 is available, however what has me interested about Gazelle is they will commit to a price now, and let you ship it up until the end of September after you have your iPhone 5 in hand.

Can’t give them the total vouch as I haven’t gone through the process yet but I’m planning to on this go around and will be happy to report back to anyone else interested!

Has anyone else used this service before?

What is your Return on Luck?

Perhaps my favorite chapter in Jim Collins and Morten Hansen’s recent book – “Great by Choice” is his chapter titled “Return on Luck”.

“Great by Choice” is Jim’s latest book that attempts to answer the question – “Why do some companies thrive in uncertainty, even chaos, and others do not?”
If you’ve read any of Jim’s previous books (How the Mighty Fall, Good to Great, Built to Last) you know that his research is thorough, insightful, and compelling.

In his typical leave no stone unturned research style, Jim and team researched the impact of luck to see if luck caused either the success of failures of the companies his team was studying.
The evidence shows that bad luck can not be blamed for the comparison companies that faltered in rough times.
Likewise, the evidence also shows that good luck can not be praised for the “10X” or good example companies that thrived during rough times.

The book does discuss however, a concept called “Return on Luck” which I find to be very compelling.
Essentially the companies that thrived were able to turn bad luck into something positive, and capitalize more completely on good luck.

Two examples show what I mean, first an example of bad luck.
Progressive Insurance (and all insurance companies in California) were hit with an extreme law in 1988 that essentially forced them to lower their prices by 20%. This law was passed by voters because of incredibly negative perceptions of insurance companies. As Ralph Nader (who helped the bill be passed) told Peter Lewis (then CEO of Progressive) — voters hate you.
Having a law passed that forces you to slash your prices by 1/5th due to an outrage against your industry can be called bad luck.
What Progressive did with this, helps show why they thrived during rough times.
The CEO of Progressive took the message directly to his company. “Our customers actually hate us.” What a good way to start a meeting.
Progressive turned their focus to making auto insurance claims as easy and painless as possible.
They rolled out mobile claims adjusters to come to you for an adjustment.
They rolled out a simple policy – 24x7x365 service.
Over the next 14 years, Progressive took this turn of bad luck, and literally capitalized on it – going from 13th in the industry in 1987 to 4th in the industry in 2002.

On the flip side, good luck can be squandered if you are not ready and disciplined to be able to pounce on it.

AMD had several bouts of good luck in the mid 1990’s.

* The market was desperate for an alternative to the dominant and monopolistic Intel.

* AMD was given rights to clone Intel’s x86 architecture by a federal judge

* IBM stopped shipments due to a PR nightmare for Intel – errors in the 1994 flagship Pentium 5 chip.

* They were able to buy a competitive chip maker and turn out the AMD K6 which was rated faster than the competing Intel Pentium Pro
* The entire PC market moved toward sub $1,000 PC’s which favored AMD’s price conscious marketing

Even through those luck windfalls, AMD wasn’t able to capture more than spurts of momentum due to lack of readiness for success.
According to Great by Choice – AMD’s stock over 70% behind the general market from 1995 through 2002.

I’ll close with two calls to action:

1. Apply discipline and consistency to your life and organization NOW, so that you can fully capitalize on good luck when it happens
2. When hit with bad luck, ask how you can use the bad luck to your advantage

What’s next for Jabber?

From my view, it seems like Jabber is starting to really take hold in the hearts and minds of the customers I speak with.

Getting a clear picture of Jabber is the first step in this, so if you are fuzzy on what exactly Jabber is, spend 3 minutes on this post and watch the quick video.

 

I’ve been spending more time traveling recently, and as I flew to Texas for meetings, I had some time to reflect on what capabilities are most lacking in Jabber.

By the end of the year I expect Cisco to be nearly complete on their vision of the same core capabilities across device platforms.

That begs the question – what should Cisco focus on for their next phase of development on Jabber?

That is the question I would like to to consider with this capabilities request.

It is great that Jabber runs on so many platforms – either natively or using third-party products (like Polycom, Apple, and more).

The biggest downside to that however is, my experience and history doesn’t move between devices.

The Jabber clients need to have a shared MEMORY, and be LOCATION aware.

Let me give you an example of what I mean.

 

SHARED MEMORY

I was at a Cisco office a few weeks ago, and meeting up with a co-worker for lunch following the meetings at Cisco.

Naturally I was logged into Jabber on my Mac, and got the address and name of the restaurant we were going to be meeting at.

After I left Cisco, I realized I wanted to double-check the address as I was unfamiliar with the territory.

Out came my phone, and I logged into Jabber IM on the iPhone.

Unfortunately – all the messages from the Mac…were on the Mac, not on my iPhone’s client.

As we use mobile devices more, it will become more and more intolerable for information to be tied to the device it was created on.

Therefore – my feature request for the Jabber brand is that you add a SHARED MEMORY to the list of capabilities.

Let the products (Jabber for Mac, Jabber for PC, etc.) be aware of each other, let them inform each other of my preferences, behavior, and communications.

Let them sync my messages so that I have access to my communication history across the Jabber brand, not in a single product.

Products that sync across products/devices already exist and are widely available today – Evernote, DropBox, Box, VMware’s Octopus, etc.

Worst case – Cisco should buy Evernote and stuff it inside Jabber! 🙂

 

LOCATION

For a long time I was reticent to embrace location capabilities in my personal and work apps, however I’m quickly finding new uses for this capability and look forward to it making its way to enterprise applications.

For instance, this morning I met with a co-worker at Starbucks, but was unfamiliar with the area.  I got to the Starbucks I thought we were going to, and checked in on Foursquare.  My coworker texted me to let me know he was running about 10 minutes behind, and I was able to have him verify on Foursquare that the location I was checked in at was the right Starbucks.  Location quickly accessible on a mobile app is very useful.

 

The SUM is GREATER.

The real power comes when you can combine both location awareness and a shared memory.  As a simple scenario – I could walk into a conference room, “check in” on a mobile device or my laptop, and have a video call that is scheduled for ME, not for a ROOM, appear on the telepresence unit in the room.  This takes Cisco’s vision around Quad – “collaboration activities should center around people, not documents” and extends it across the overall portfolio.

At this point, we could add one more capability to Jabber’s repertoire – INTELLIGENCE.

What is Cisco Jabber?

I’ve seen (and admittedly spread) some confusion about Cisco Jabber in the past couple of years.

About 6 months ago I built a quick training for my team to try to provide a clear and simple answer to the question – “What is Cisco Jabber”?

Since then we’ve added several people so I wanted to make the pitch clear, concise, and…available on demand.

I captured a recording of me giving the explanation and posted my first draft on YouTube.

Imagine my surprise when the video quickly went “mini-viral” hitting 1,000 views within a few days.

Take 3 minutes to watch the very brief, and hopefully very clear answer to “What is Cisco Jabber?”