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How Cisco Webex Teams APIs Can Change the Way You Workflow

Cisco Webex Teams (formerly Cisco Spark) is an incredible collaboration tool in and of itself, but it’s biggest potential may lie in its ability to integrate with other systems through APIs.

April 5, 2016

WWT uses open APIs and automation to increase workflow efficiencies.

Every business, service or household relies on workflows to grow and thrive. People fall into a workflow naturally to get tasks done. The thing about workflows is, the more complex they become, the more difficult it is to maintain their associated productivity.

Watch this demo on how WWT used Cisco APIs and automation can increase productivity.

A good example of this came about recently with our Networking Practice at WWT. This team handles many proofs of concept (POCs) in our Advanced Technology Center. In fact, it’s not uncommon for the group to have 20 to 30 POCs going at the same time.

Meet the workflow

Here was the group’s normal workflow. A WWT field representative would open a request for a POC online; a project team would review the viability of the request; the POC would be executed; and the project would be closed.

Because many of our POCs are extremely complex in scope, communication between team members during the workflow is key to keeping a project on track. Unfortunately communication was becoming cumbersome.

The networking group would share documents through email and then post updates about them through unruly and long threads. Sometimes email communication on a topic became so convoluted that key people would be left off email chains. When this happened, additional updates to workflows were required and the process would become less productive.

Enter Cisco Webex Teams

Fortunately, the team discovered Cisco Webex Teams, a social tool that works on the premise of rooms. Members in a room can post messages, add documents and communicate with other room members via voice and video. All room members receive updates simultaneously, and all interactions are encrypted to preserve authenticity. One of the best things about Webex Teams is that teams receive updates on any device, and the messages stay persistent in the room.

The networking group agreed: Webex Teams is awesome! The tool’s real-time nature made project communication and collaboration easier and more efficient, and sped up response times in addition to overall organization.

There was just one problem. For the team to use Webex Teams, someone needed to perform all the tasks required to keep the information consistent. This included opening a room, adding the required team members, posting the information for the POC into the room and finally copying all the information out of the room at the close of the project.

Now you had a situation where a tool to improve the group’s workflow had produced its own and separate workflow.

Webex Teams APIs save the day!

Anytime you have a workflow that starts producing a new workflow, it’s time to examine areas for automation.

For the POC requests, the networking group was using ServiceNow, which is a good workflow automation engine. The challenge was we needed some way to integrate the Teams room creation process into the POC request process. If we could consolidate our ServiceNow and Teams workflows, our resources would become that much more productive. Enter the exciting world of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).

Most application providers, like Cisco, provide an easier way to modify the functionality of their program without having to change the core code. APIs allow programmers to perform tasks easily and consolidate workflows for a measurable benefit. Cisco Webex Teams has APIs for creating and deleting rooms, adding and changing members in a room, and posting and updating messages in the room. Perfect!

Now we can tell ServiceNow that when a new POC is created, send the commands to Teams to create a room, add the users in the POC request to the room, post a message in the room with all the needed request information, and notify all the team members when the POC is done.

As an added benefit, if the ServiceNow request is updated (say a new project manager or team member is added to the POC), because of the APIs in place, the Teams room is updated automatically. Lastly, when a POC is marked complete in ServiceNow, all of the associated Teams room messages and attached files are archived to a storage area and deleted from the room.

Conclusion

When we successfully integrated our existing workflow (via ServiceNow) with our new workflow (via Teams) the power of Cisco Webex Teams integration blew us away.

After integration, we now save around three hours of management time required per week, which results in a savings of around 144 employee hours per year. You may think 144 hours is okay savings, but nothing to make such a fuss about.

But, consider that we have about 1,000 of these types of workflow processes going on at one time. So, if you can shave off three hours for every workflow in an organization, (in our case affecting 144,000 worker hours of productivity), now you’re affecting the bottom line in a big way.

Read about other API integrations WWT has done here.