Calibrating Collaboration in a Hybrid Work Environment


There’s no doubt that the pandemic has forever changed the way we collaborate in the workplace. Embracing a hybrid work environment means adopting collaboration solutions that bring continuity and creativity to the forefront, no matter where your employees are located. To learn more about this shift and what to expect as we move to accommodate a hybrid workforce, we spoke with Mike Brooks, Sales Business Development Manager for Collaboration at Cisco. He spoke to evolving priorities and new challenges that come with this territory, and how Cisco is prepared to tackle them.

Here’s what he had to share:

EDGE360 Editors: How have collaboration needs and priorities evolved during the pandemic, particularly as more organizations adopt a hybrid work environment?

Mike Brooks: In today’s hybrid work world, we are asking ourselves if this is a revolution or evolution. It is no longer enough to solve the challenges of remote work or support a safe office re-entry. It’s about finding solutions not only to recover in the face of change, but also to thrive and innovate. Let’s not forget inclusiveness, engagement, and well-being for all employees. In my opinion, this is a revolution, and the employees are deciding where they wish to work; they need and expect the same experience as if they are in the office. 

EDGE360 Editors: What important lessons have been learned about enabling collaboration for hybrid work environments? 

Brooks: We have learned that hybrid work is not a single vendor experience. We know our partners have situations where end customers have other solutions and products deployed in their environment. Cisco is focused on helping partners maintain their current investments and showcase interoperability. Our Webex platform is now interoperable with Google, Microsoft, and soon Zoom. We have also learned that IT decision makers now include other departments across the business such as HR, engineering, and the employees, so this interoperability and multi-vendor approach is key to our growth.

EDGE360 Editors: What collaboration challenges currently exist as we continue to navigate hybrid work? How does Cisco address those challenges?

Brooks: Current challenges include optimizing remote work, managing hybrid work infrastructure security, creating an inclusive and supportive work culture and experience, and facilitating a safe return to the office for employees.

Cisco has a variety of solutions to address each of these challenges head-on with products like the Webex suite, which is more than just a conferencing tool. It is a single pane of glass, which allows us to meet, call, message, whiteboard, and interact with everyone and anyone. Integrated applications, such as Slido for polling and Socio for our events (both virtual and in-person), equip this software with what it takes for easy and intuitive collaboration that increases productivity and provides a great experience for all. We tackle infrastructure challenges with Meraki and address security concerns with our best-in-class security offerings, DUO and AMP. Cisco is the vendor that is best positioned to excel with hybrid work.

EDGE360 Editors: Are there any current collaboration related incentives or promotions that Cisco partners can take advantage of as they help customers embrace hybrid work solutions? 

Brooks: Our value incentive program, also known as VIP, helps promote profitability in areas like VPN/Security, W-LAN and Unified Communications. The Lifecycle Starter incentive offers additional profitability for our partners who are migrating their on-premises base to cloud-based offerings. We also have our generous NFR program, which provides $125K worth of collaboration software for free following authorization. Our seller rewards program allows partners to provide reward points to their Cisco sellers for completing sales and activity challenges. And of course, we have our discounting incentives including the migration incentive, teaming incentive, and hunting incentives. There are many ways for partners to take advantage of the hybrid work revolution and maximize their profitability by doing so.

EDGE360 Editors: How do you anticipate collaboration technologies will evolve in the next year or two as hybrid work becomes more ubiquitous? 

Brooks: In my opinion, the teams who are involved with research and development are going to experience a whirlwind of opportunity. The current collaboration tools we have will become more and more simple to use, and video and AR technologies will come together to create a virtual world, making meetings more engaging. I am excited for what’s to come and the productivity increase that is sure to come along with Cisco technology.

Learn more about the changing landscape of hybrid work and how SYNNEX Comstor can equip you with what you need to succeed.


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