Collaboration is “People-Centric”

William Bell
Vice President, Solutions and Products

I believe that a promise is made every time someone hires my team to do a job. It is a promise that we will do everything we can to help that customer meet their  requirements and achieve sustainable success. Sustainable success is key and this is more challenging than it should be.

I will sum up the challenge as “Incongruous Agenda Syndrome” (IAS). That is a shout out to my colleague Pete Welcher, who is famous (well, internally at least) for cataloging social behaviors in IT as syndromes.

Anyway, IAS occurs when there is more emphasis on sales quotas, milestones, etc. than there is on the actual use case.  I often get engaged on projects where everyone in the room seems more focused on getting a bill of materials (BoM) nailed down than they are on understanding the problem they need to solve or the use case they want to “enable”.

That isn’t to say folks don’t spend any time talking about requirements. They do. It just seems to me that they don’t spend enough time focused on understanding the actual business needs and use cases. Typically, the questions asked and topics discussed find inspiration from the capabilities of a product rather than the needs of the use case.

In my world view, this is a problem. I believe that it is a recipe for long term failure when an IT project focuses on the technology more than on understanding and addressing the actual business needs. You must start with the use case, which will vary based on your environment and most likely be as diverse as your organization. In clinical environments, you have to start with the patient. In customer contact center environments, you have to understand how your customers communicate and collaborate with your business today. In your standard enterprise, you have to understand the needs of your end users, how they interface with each other and what they need to be productive.

At the Collaboration Partner Summit Cisco spent time talking about how a “people-centric” approach to designing a solution is critical to the success of all parties involved in a project. I wholeheartedly agree. The goal is to create a solution that is flexible and can adapt to dynamically changing workflows. The whole “Anytime, Anywhere, Any Device” communication mantra. A tall order, but definitely the right idea.

I know this isn’t exactly a new message. I mean, Cisco coined the term the “human network” a while ago. Nonetheless I am very pleased to hear the “People-Centric” message be repeated and hope that eventually those of us on the front lines of technology will accept that the path to sustainable success is through your people, not your technology.

Leave a Reply


Nick Kelly

Cybersecurity Engineer, Cisco

Nick has over 20 years of experience in Security Operations and Security Sales. He is an avid student of cybersecurity and regularly engages with the Infosec community at events like BSides, RVASec, Derbycon and more. The son of an FBI forensics director, Nick holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice and is one of Cisco’s Fire Jumper Elite members. When he’s not working, he writes cyberpunk and punches aliens on his Playstation.


Virgilio “BONG” dela Cruz Jr.

CCDP, CCNA V, CCNP, Cisco IPS Express Security for AM/EE
Field Solutions Architect, Tech Data

Virgilio “Bong” has sixteen years of professional experience in IT industry from academe, technical and customer support, pre-sales, post sales, project management, training and enablement. He has worked in Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) as a member of the WAN and LAN Switching team. Bong now works for Tech Data as the Field Solutions Architect with a focus on Cisco Security and holds a few Cisco certifications including Fire Jumper Elite.


John Cavanaugh

CCIE #1066, CCDE #20070002, CCAr
Chief Technology Officer, Practice Lead Security Services, NetCraftsmen

John is our CTO and the practice lead for a talented team of consultants focused on designing and delivering scalable and secure infrastructure solutions to customers across multiple industry verticals and technologies. Previously he has held several positions including Executive Director/Chief Architect for Global Network Services at JPMorgan Chase. In that capacity, he led a team managing network architecture and services.  Prior to his role at JPMorgan Chase, John was a Distinguished Engineer at Cisco working across a number of verticals including Higher Education, Finance, Retail, Government, and Health Care.

He is an expert in working with groups to identify business needs, and align technology strategies to enable business strategies, building in agility and scalability to allow for future changes. John is experienced in the architecture and design of highly available, secure, network infrastructure and data centers, and has worked on projects worldwide. He has worked in both the business and regulatory environments for the design and deployment of complex IT infrastructures.