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What does “offline” mean?

By Graham Robinson, Group Practice Manager, Data#3 Limited

[Reading time: 3mins]

Looking to make use of an unexpected break between meetings, I open my instant messenger client and tap out a message.

“Hi Richard. Can you send me the latest stat for our Cisco Security Proof of Value Marketing Campaign? Cheers.”

However, my message is quickly met with a system error.

“This message wasn’t sent to Richard Dornhart.”

Are you kidding me? It says he’s online! Richard’s mobile goes to voicemail so I drop him an email, knowing that he may not see the request for a few hours.

I still have 10 minutes before my next meeting so I move on. I can see that our General Manager for Maintenance Solutions, John Tan, is also online. His status reads “Can’t take calls, please message me”, so I tap out another message.

“Hi John, I got some great feedback from [customer] on our Wi-Fi Analytics as-a-Services offerings. Do you have 10 minutes later today to discuss?”

CollaborationHis status switches to offline as I hit enter and I’m the lucky recipient of yet another rejection message.

“John can’t receive IMs right now. Status is unavailable or offline.”

Argh!! Frustrated, I send them both messages using Facebook Messenger. I see read receipts for both messages within about 30 seconds, and I have responses soon after. Facebook #ftw.

The problem with traditional collaboration tools

“This message wasn’t sent to Richard Dornhart.”

“John can’t receive IMs right now. Status is unavailable or offline.”

These messages are the tell-tale signs of traditional collaboration solutions that don’t understand the way we work.

Traditional players have dominated desktop messaging for years, but Cloud and Mobile have fundamentally changed the way we work and the tools we need.

With traditional IT communication systems at breaking point under the expectations of both personal and team productivity, the cracks have become evident.

  • Email is the enemy of productivity. Apart from the soul destroying quantity, it’s poorly organised and difficult to search. The use of ‘reply-all’ commonly causes conversations to splinter into multiple threads, which results in yet more emails along with confusion, oversights and omissions. The more I use email, the less work I get done.
  • The traditional concept of ‘presence’ is fundamentally outdated. ‘Away from desk?’ Is that really still a thing? Like it or not I’m always online. If the system says ‘offline’ what it really means is ‘mobile’.
  • Instant Messages fail to reach beyond real-time. Not even snail mail needs someone to be home to deliver a letter, so why does IM? Messages need to be waiting for us the moment we want them; not generating errors to the sender if the intended recipient isn’t connected at the time.
  • Communication systems are still siloed. Meetings, conferences and phone calls are commonly managed differently because voice, video and conferencing systems were all installed at different times. None of the discrete systems truly work together and collaboration is just a pipedream for all but a few.

Mobile has overtaken desktop

Recent studies[1] show that the average employee now spends 56% more time on mobile devices compared with traditional laptops or desktops; a number which continues to increase rapidly with the emergence of Gen Y and Gen Z[2] in the workforce. It’s this rapid uptake of mobility that’s driving the increased adoption of consumer services such as Facebook or Slack for efficient team collaboration, and which should be cause for concern in every boardroom. Consequently, the need for enterprise grade, mobile-first tools which support the way we actually work has never been greater.

I have often thought about using a Cloud platform like Slack, and while it offers some huge advantages over both my traditional on-premises instant messenger client and even Facebook, I could see it ultimately becoming just another communication silo.

Enter Cisco Spark.

  • Cloud Based. Always On.
  • Enterprise Managed. Team Focused.
  • Active Directory Integrated. Single Sign-On.
  • Calendar Sychronised. WebEx Integrated.
  • Secure Communication. End-to-End Encrypted.
  • Broad Platform Support. Mobile First.
  • Voice and Video. TelePresence Interoperability.
  • Content Sharing. Cloud Storage Support.
  • Data Driven Design. Comprehensive Analytics.
  • Rich APIs. Business Integration Focused.

Cisco Spark is a Cloud Collaboration platform built from the ground up to seamlessly reach into your organisation and breathe new life into your existing Cisco Unified Communications infrastructure.

Cisco Spark is offered under a freemium model. The free version is excellent and available right now. The paid version includes the enterprise management, single sign-on, business video integration and deep analytics.

Change takes time, and while my (frustrating) instant messenger client still flashes at me when I’m at my desk, Cisco Spark is rapidly gaining traction and becoming my default collaboration platform.

If you’re interested in breaking free from yesterday and trying a whole new way of working, why not grab the desktop client and mobile app from www.ciscospark.com, and then spark me at graham_robinson@data3.com.au. I’d love to hear about your spark experiences!

If you need some tips on how to get the most out of Spark, check out Cisco’s YouTube Channel.

[1] http://www.nielsen.com/au/en/insights/news/2015/mobile-mania-australians-spend-on-average-more-than-an-hour-a-day-on-their-smartphones.html

[2] http://www.cmo.com/articles/2015/6/11/15-mind-blowing-stats-about-generation-z.html

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Tags: Cisco, Collaboration

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