Five thoughts from the Cisco collaboration device tour
Many disciplines are needed to build devices, including design, hardware engineering, software development, audio and video innovation, and product management. By putting these under one roof, Cisco has given itself a unique advantage to drive innovation.
At the end of last month, Cisco Systems Inc. invited a small group of analysts to tour its facilities in Oslo, Norway, the home of the Cisco team responsible for its device portfolio — aka "Video Valley" — primarily used with Webex software.
The team, led by Snorre Kjesbu, senior vice president and general manager of Webex devices, has a wealth of device and video talent dating back to Tandberg, which Cisco acquired in 2010. The tour included an overview of Cisco's device strategy, thoughts on hybrid work, how the endpoints work with Webex software, and an inside look at some of the coming innovations. Kjesbu likened the visit to touring Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, where we looked inside at how the products are made, although there were no Oompa Loompas.
The tour left me with a favorable opinion of the Cisco Devices Business Unit, and I believe the group has a strong upside potential. Here are some of my thoughts post-tour.
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One of the interesting aspects of Cisco's device strategy is that the endpoints work with its biggest competitors, including Zoom and Microsoft Teams. In fact, the decision to brand the endpoints "Cisco" and not "Webex" was made to minimize the competitive impact. The Cisco devices natively interoperate with Webex, Teams, Zoom and Google Meet so users can join meetings across those platforms without having to reboot the device.
When I asked Kjesbu why Cisco is taking the approach, he said, "Because it's what's best for customers." Through native interoperability, customers can take advantage of the Cisco devices but still choose the collaboration platform of their choice.
At Cisco Live, I talked with World Wide Technology, Cisco's biggest reseller, about the native interoperability between Cisco devices and Teams, and its executives were thrilled with the opportunities this opens up.
It's worth noting that the theme of doing what's best for the customer is a recurring topic I hear at Cisco.