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Employees driving shift to collaboration: Cisco

Collaboration technology will be the major driving force in the industry over the next five years, with staff prompting companies to adopt it at an ever-increasing rate, says Cisco country manager Geoff Lawrie.

Speaking at a Maclean Computing breakfast seminar in Auckland recently, Lawrie said business managers are not in control of the IT process anymore.

“We have lived in a time where the CIO defined when technology came into an organisation. Technology is now coming in from the bottom up [from employees].”

Lawrie says collaboration is no longer just an IT issue, but also a business issue.

“When I spend time talking to people about their business, it doesn’t matter what vertical they are in, there is a consistent set of issues.”

These include how to reduce costs and an emphasis on innovation and differentiation to stand out in the market.

“If you look at businesses that want to transform, they need to work on the culture within the organisation. You need to look at all of those dimensions including culture and technology.”

According to Lawrie, collaboration used to be defined within the boundaries of an organisation.

“People are starting to understand that when you extend that boundary of collaboration up and down the value chain from suppliers to partners, that’s when you start to get genuine productivity happening.

He says IT departments are also challenged because younger employees that he terms “millennials”, want to connect their iPhone to the corporate network and use social networking sites.

“Business owners say, `I don’t want Facebook or Twitter in my organisation’. You need to make allowances for those type of technologies coming into your workplace.”

Lawrie says video will become the “killer application” in the work environment, as companies accept that information is freely accessible.

Lawrie says 60 percent of his company’s server traffic is accounted for by video in various forms, including telepresence and Skype video calls.

“The research we have done suggests that by 2014, 90 percent of traffic within businesses will be video. High definition videoconferencing will change how we conduct business meetings and reduce travel costs.”

Lawrie also says cloud computing will be part of the collaboration mix.

“Cisco will be coming out with a hosted service in the cloud, but our research suggests that even with the most aggressive adoption of cloud it will be [only] 30 percent of the marketplace in five years.”

His company’s research suggests a hybrid model of cloud and on-premise will make up another 30 percent of the market.