Cisco CTO Predicts Future Of Collaboration

In her keynote presentation at VoiceCon Orlando, Warrior said collaboration is key to cutting costs and building efficiency, whether it is through simple voice communications, video, social networks or a host of other collaborative applications that bring people together and facilitate the sharing of ideas.

"As human beings, we have a natural tendency to want to build relationships," she said, adding that the IT industry has to create an enterprise-grade collaboration platform on par with what is happening in the consumer space with collaborative applications like Twitter, Facebook and a smattering of others.

Warrior outlined five predictions for collaboration:

1. Collaboration networks will be to the enterprise what social networks are to consumers today.

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2. It won't be about on-demand or on-premises, it will be about the portability of the experience.

3. Innovation will be redefined by operational excellence.

4. Organizations without boundaries will drive the next wave of productivity.

5. Information technology will evolve into information fabric.

For those predictions to come to fruition, however, technology, processes and cultures have to change, and collaboration has to be adapted and applied to business processes.

"The future is all about technology adapted to people's needs, not the other way around," she said.

Warrior, a massive proponent of Twitter and other social networks, challenged the industry to build platforms that move beyond just the technology that connects people and focus on the applications that enable people to communicate and collaborate. Warrior added that it's necessary to tie operations into collaboration, which will change the way people work together, not only boosting business, but sparking innovation.

Warrior said she foresees a time when technology becomes invisible and less about pushing information from one place to another, and more about how IT becomes a business strategy that delivers applications to users on any network, in any location and on any device.

"We don't go to work anymore; we simply do work," she said. "The notion of the workday will change to work time."

To illustrate her predictions, Warrior showed how a mix of on-demand, or cloud-based, and on-premise technologies -- fueled by an intelligent network that delivers virtualization, access, presence, policy, security and location -- can connect users to information and other people.

First, she demonstrated Cisco Collaboration Assistant, an on-premise application that finds information in the cloud through a voice search and helps track down and identify people based on their presence information and field of expertise. In this example, Warrior and Cisco's Sean Curtis, started with a search on alternative medicines, which led them to a Wikipedia page, then to different examples of alternative medicines and a list of doctors who practice alternative medicine. The application also showed which doctors were available for a virtual visit.

From there, Warrior and Curtis demonstrated Cisco Health Presence, a health-care-focused system that connects patients with doctors without requiring an office visit. Warrior and Curtis connected with the doctor located through Collaboration Assistant. The Health Presence system includes cameras, a stethoscope, tools to read vital signs and other peripherals and sends that information to a doctor, who engages the patient via a Cisco TelePresence session. From there, the doctor can make a diagnosis, or later send the patient a video with recommendations, using the TelePresence recording feature Cisco unveiled at VoiceCon as part of its unified communications and TelePresence updates.

Those types of solutions, while making communications more efficient, will also help pave the road ahead for collaboration, Warrior said. Moving forward, collaboration will be on more radar screens because of its ability to demonstrate cost savings and ROI, its focus on boosting productivity and its ability to differentiate the customer experience.

"Collaboration is not just going to change the way we work," she said. "It will change the industry."