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Three new solutions address the workplace of the future.

We’ve seen a lot of chatter on No Jitter and elsewhere about the changing business environment and the concept of the workplace of the future. Opinions differ on what that “workplace” looks like, but visualizing something that’s so much more than a physical space is hard. This is really about an experience or a way to work, which vendors must keep in mind as they design tools for use in the workplace of the future.

Polycom understands this mandate, as evidenced in three new RealPresence Platform solutions it announced this morning at InfoComm 2015. It designed the new products specifically to address the workplace of the future by improving the user experience and productivity of collaborative engagements.

Here’s a look at the new offerings.

The winning UC&C vendors in the digital era will be those that create
agile back ends that allow for rapid development of mobile apps.

With Cisco Live 2015 underway in San Diego this week, I can’t help but think of digital transformation — a significant theme in the keynote of outgoing CEO John Chambers — in context of unified communications and collaboration.

In his keynote, Chambers talked at length about the impact that digitization has had and will have over the next decade. He highlighted a handful of organizations, including poster children Airbnb and Uber, born in the digital era that have, in short order, disrupted some well-established industries.

Now business disruption is certainly nothing new; history is filled with new companies that grow at the expense of a legacy mainstay. Think of the way WalMart disrupted retail. Sears, K-Mart, and others have not been the same since.

Cisco Spark and other tools of its class provide maximum value for
small, agile teams working on fast projects or toward quick decisions.

Over the past couple of years, as I’ve noted previously here on No Jitter, we’ve seen the emergence of a new type of UC tool that is about what some industry watchers call “mobile, social collaboration” and others think of as “any-time communications.” Acano coSpaces, Cisco Spark, and Unify Circuit are specific examples, and you can find others from companies like Biba, Interactive Intelligence, and Slack. The concept behind these tools is easy enough to grasp, but really understanding what makes them different is difficult unless you’ve actually used them as intended.

My first two experiences with this class of tool didn’t exactly sell me on its value.

SMART Technologies’ newest smart board allows inking
from mobile devices and an instant-on capability,
among other collaboration-friendly features.

Interactive whiteboards, or smart boards, are certainly nothing new. In fact, I first used one in the early ’90s, when working at a college in Victoria, B.C. It was hard to use and quality was low — a situation that, unfortunately, lasted the better part of two decades and created a negative bias against the technology. But, as I wrote for No Jitter a year ago, smart boards are finally worth a serious look as part of an enterprise UC plan.

You might start with the SMART kapp IQ, introduced earlier today by SMART Technologies. With kapp IQ, SMART adds to its already highly successful digital whiteboard family. SMART took smart board technology a huge step forward with the original kapp, tethering the content on the board to mobile devices running the Android and iOS operating systems.

Cisco acquires Tropo cloud API platform, gets serious
about attracting developers to build for its UC&C apps.

Cisco announced this morning its intent to acquire cloud API platform provider Tropo. Together, Cisco and Tropo will provide a collaboration platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) aimed at letting enterprise and partner developers communications-enable applications with ease.

For all the success that Cisco has had in the collaboration market, the company has struggled in attracting developers to build UC-based applications. Cisco has talked the talk of being a “platform” vendor, but hasn’t been able to walk that walk yet. While the revamped DevNet program is much better than previous initiatives, Cisco is still in the early stages of building the community. This is particularly so in the collaboration space, which should be the low-hanging fruit for DevNet.

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