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Meeting fatigue? Aren’t we all experiencing it?

Meeting fatigue, co-designing, and technology

The best way to fight virtual fatigue is doing what we do in the real world, don’t “die by PowerPoint,” do better – Co-Create!

This is a story about co-designing, running virtual workshops, and co-creating with teams across companies across locations.

Last Winter, I was invited to an event hosted by Vitra that took place in Vienna, with the schedule: “workshop – decoding the office.”

The organizers told me to expect a “design thinking” session with about 150 people. Having facilitated co-creation workshops myself, I was wondering how this was going to work out.  And I must admit, it was a great experience to witness how Tim Reusch (Head of Vitra Design Studio) pulled it off by using an “event” version based on his methodology.

vitra event 1.PNG

 

Design thinking-  joining space and technology

After the session, Tim and I discussed the importance of the interlock of space and technology. During that time, Vitra and Cisco were already collaborating on the Cisco Webex Room Panorama, providing the ultimate immersive video conferencing experience for the modern C-suite.

We agreed on the need to take our partnership one step further, by joining company forces to discuss the marriage of space and technology, using Tim’s design thinking methodology.

Therefore, our Head of Design for Webex Devices, Sondre Ager-Wick, came on board to support. Time got Hendrik Woywod from Vitra Global Sales involved to assemble a diverse group for the workshop.

Webex and Vitra join together for a virtual design thinking workshop

After a few follow-up meetings in early 2020, we agreed to invite 10 participants from each company and aimed for two slots – a kickoff at the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein, Germany, and a second slot in the Cisco Executive Briefing Center in Oslo, Norway. We were ready to start, but then all of a sudden the entire world went remote overnight.

The challenge was obvious: We still wanted to run the workshops and asked ourselves whether it was possible to do this virtually – using Webex? And it sure was.

The goal

We had one goal in mind, which was to transform the office. To facilitate the workshop, we split up into four different working groups to focus on the different areas.

The key questions for the Space architects and Technology experts were:

SPACE: When people walk through your office, do they really want to work there? If you can answer “yes” to this question, then you have reached a level of psychological comfort and safety.

TECHNOLOGY: Assume 50% of your co-workers are remote. Can you still answer the previous question with a definite “yes”?

Image 7

The workshop

Since Webex is designed for collaboration with distributed groups, we onboarded the Vitra participants to Webex and created a team structure for the plenary session using a Webex Space. The joint introduction session was followed by splitting up the group into four small and diversely staffed working teams.

image28.png

You find your chat messages there, your documents and files, and of course, you can ad-hoc start a Webex meeting. The key was the possibility to have the whiteboarding templates integrated into the platform.

We started with the architectural layout of the new office.

image9.png

Any breakout group member can edit the whiteboard in real-time from any location, and editing can be done by teams offline. A single meeting can be joined from multiple devices. For example, a laptop is being used for the meeting, while the iPad is used for whiteboard edits.

Templates and “Flipchart-like” drawing tools, “stickies” – all the tools you are familiar with from design thinking are included. The Webex Architecture allows flexibility to use all of these across companies and locations.

The facilitator is highly flexible in the reviewing progress on each of the whiteboards without joining every single breakout meeting.

image17.png

When we run these kinds of workshops within Cisco, most employees prefer to join with their Webex devices from home. In this workshop, we were a very distributed group of people joining different locations using different technology. Therefore, it was great to see how technology became an enabler to entirely focus on true co-creation from leveraging diverse views and technologies.

Click here if you wanna see how this looks with a “fancy” device

Some workshop impressions:

Devices

image8.pngimage5.png

Each team assigned a team lead and then got to work on their schedule for four weeks. Afterward, each group presented their outcomes to the overall panel.

Afterwards, it was great to see the amazing results of this invigorating collaboration; as an example, take a glimpse on how the teams structured the scenarios:

dancing wall 2_AH

Many thanks again to the folks from Vitra and Cisco who contributed to this experience. I must admit that this was the first time I could do this myself virtually and across companies, countries, and colleagues, and I am pleased about how well it worked out.

We then agreed to run a second round which focused on two specific topics: “Safe Return to Office” and “Work from Home.” My team member Mathilde Salvi facilitated this round together with Tim and Hendrik.

Fast forward to today, where are we now

Here are a couple of examples of joint ideas that we are working on with customers now:

Dancing Wall + Webex

Many companies adapt to the increasingly unpredictable changes in their markets by creating agile organizational structures. To facilitate this, they require office furnishings that can be easily reconfigured – if possible, by the users themselves. Dancing Wall is a solution for these new working environments.

Dancing wall

dancing wall 2_AH

Kado + Webex board:

Modern offices need to be flexible to adapt to changing conditions. Yet, at the same time, an open office landscape needs organizational structures that reflect the company’s identity and define pathways for movement and communication. This is where Kado Office comes into play.

Kado

Huddle Spaces:

Huddle Spaces will have a considerable stake in the new offices setup. Hence, we explored the following scenarios:

Huddle SpacesA big playground, the home office:

home office

All those pictures look great, but of course, this needs to be experienced in the real world. Another great proof point of this collaboration is the Webex Panorama in the Vitra Showroom:

Vitra officeshowroom frankfurt 4

Back to the co-designing piece

In our Design-Thinking Sprint with Vitra, we managed thanks to the integrated whiteboarding capabilities in Webex. If you want to try this yourself, just download the Webex Client and give it a go.

Webex is an open platform to expand the experience even further, so you can easily integrate co-creation apps.

Here is an example of Miro.com embedded into Webex:

I’d recommend choosing Miro when you want to run workshops with a large number of participants, requiring an assortment of templates supporting a wider variety of work-styles:

Image 1

  Miro on Webex Board

miro board.jpeg

Miro on DeskPro

miro deskpro.jpeg

Now, the world is used to virtual meetings, but in my opinion, the era of co-creation – especially hybrid co-creation – has just started, and exciting times are ahead of us!

THE BEST RECIPE AGAINST MEETING FATIGUE IS CO-CREATION and this is true for physical, virtual as well as hybrid meetings.

See how Webex Devices can help your team communicate clearly and create together in real time

About the author

Alex Braumann joined Cisco in 2000. As Business Development Manager & Collaboration Evangelist the Austrian is covering Technology Evolution and focuses on Partner Enablement, Verticalization and the Digitization capabilities of Cisco Collaboration in EMEAR & APJC. During his career at Cisco, he worked in different Systems Engineering, Sales & Business Development roles in the fields of IP Telephony, Unified Communication and Collaboration.

Resources

The all new Webex

Ready to make the switch to the new Webex?

Learn more

Making Video Fatigue a Thing of the Past— Webex Devices Deliver 10x Better Experiences

Join a Webex online meeting

Learn more about Webex, join one of our upcoming training sessions

Explore daily product demonstrations

Sign up for Webex

Read more
Woman video conferencing and using noise reduction
Life happens. Background noise doesn’t have to

The Adoption blog series: Sharing our must-have features on Webex to make your life on Webex a little bit more easier and a lot more awesome

Taking the distraction out of background noise

Working at Webex means I’ve always worked from home (even pre-pandemic). But now it feels different, and I’ve been thinking about exactly why that is–it’s not just that we are working from home, but now we’re living our lives at work. My manager recently described it as “we’re all in the same storm, but not in the same boat.” Personally, that couldn’t be more on point.

A lot has changed in the past 12 months, and while our team used to be focused on general Webex adoption, the needs of our users have changed significantly as the entire world moved to working virtually (for the most part). On top of that, I’ve also changed significantly. I took on my most important role to date: momma.

“Will my team think I’m unprofessional if they hear my dogs barking? What if the baby is crying so loud that I need to stay on mute and not engage as much in a meeting? Will it impact my career or brand?”

Working from home with a family

Charlie was born in July, mid-pandemic, to a changed world–a world where returning to work wouldn’t involve commute traffic, but rather focus on how I manage work time (and more importantly, focus time) amidst family time all in the same physical space—home.

Any parents among you know that returning to work is hard enough, but thinking that your baby’s cries, dogs barking, and day-to-day noises of running a home would be a feature in work meetings adds an additional layer of anxiety. I had visions of trying to soundproof my office, make sure doors were closed, and ask the teenagers in my house to keep it down when I have important presentations.

Webex is here to help

I‘m not alone. We hear from thousands of users in our Webex Community that transitioning to remote work 100% of the time has required an additional layer of consideration in so many ways we never thought about–from the basics of being heard to the advanced challenges of a fully remote team inclusion in brainstorming and more. We’re all in this together and Webex is here to help.

Announcing feature of the month series

Each month, we’ll be sharing our top features to make your life on Webex a little bit easier and occasionally a lot more awesome, starting with noise removal. If you haven’t tried it out yet, you’re missing out.

One day, after turning on noise removal, the baby was…let’s just say “approaching lunchtime” quite loudly and I apologized for the noise. My colleague looked confused: “I don’t hear a thing!”

What is noise removal?

It’s easy to confuse noise removal with noise cancellation. These are very different things! Noise cancellation is all about drowning out distractions (normally delivered via hardware like headphones or headsets by using white noise). Noise removal on the other hand is way smarter. It uses innovative technology from BabbleLabs to intelligently listen to the audio on a meeting and digitally remove distracting sounds. I’ve got to be honest and say I was dubious when I heard about it and worried it would be like many consumer apps I use that try to do the same thing, but the actual result is one person’s audio goes too quiet and I miss what they were saying.

See it in action:

I was amazed that after enabling noise removal, my colleagues could hear my every word despite the doorbells, and then, of course, my two colleagues barking at every car that drove by. I should also probably let you know that my colleagues consist of two dogs—a 16-pound pug and a 110-pound labrador. Everyone needs to be using this!

remove background noise UI and speaker and microphone

It really is very, very cool. If you find yourself working from home, this is a must-try feature from all of us here at Webex. If you’re already using it, share how for your chance to win a Cisco 730 Headset (also very, very cool..and a blog for another time). If not, we’ve made a handy guide to help you turn it on—check it out below.

Download my noise removal guide to learn more

About the author

Image of Heidi RhodesHeidi Rhodes, Leader, Digital Experiences and Enablement Mom. Wife. Passionate about the adoption of cool technology and helping Webex’ hundreds of millions of users all around the world. Heidi leads Webex Customer Success Digital Transformation, Digital Experiences, Training and Enablement Teams and posts from time to time on how businesses and individuals can fully use the power of Webex to connect, collaborate and achieve more.

Learn more

The rise of AI speech enhancement & better team collaboration

Experience the all new Webex

Webex Noise Removal- BabbleLabs| Unboxing [Video]

Resources

What’s new in Webex: March 2021

Webex Training Drop- In Session [Live Class]

See What’s New in RoomOS

Still need help?

What would you like to do?

Join a Webex online meeting.

Learn more about web meetings and video conferencing.

Explore daily product demonstrations

Sign up for Webex.

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

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Collaboration for the win
Webex lights up green for St Patrick’s Day!

Míle Fáilte (A thousand welcomes) to all our Cisco colleagues, partners and customers around the globe!

We are thrilled to announce that last week, the Great Place to Work ranked Cisco as the Best Large Workplace in Ireland 2021. Participating companies were ranked on their ability to create a positive and supportive workplace environment; with an incredible 91% of Cisco employees in Ireland agreeing Cisco is a great place to work.

“Winning the Great Place to work in 2021 is not only a testament to our employees and leadership but a testament to how Webex has enabled us to continue to grow a culture albeit virtually. Since March 2020, the pandemic has not stopped the Irish team having a fully engaged culture of trust –  what a great place to work is truly built on. Webex gave us a platform, be it on video or through messaging, to enable our employees to be there for each other either professionally or personally. This last year I would never have been able to do my job without Webex, it’s as simple as that!”

Sheila Greaney – Site Engagement Manager

One of the key factors that makes Cisco a great place to work is that each and every employee is encouraged to embrace their local culture. And today, March 17th, our Irish team celebrate St Patrick’s day. A day of festivities and joy for all as we remember the patron saint of Ireland, St Patrick.

St Patrick’s day calls for us to don our finest green attire – with shamrocks and ginger beards highly encouraged. We dive deep into what it means to be Irish and dust off our dancing shoes to fully embrace our world-famous traditional music and rich culture. And this year was no different – not even Covid could stop the fun.

Being part of the Cisco family means we are all fortunate to have access to industry leading tools that maximise our virtual celebrations, making them 10X better than being in person and inclusive to our global teams. Here are just a few examples of how our teams made this St Patrick’s day one to remember:

Galway team Webex

Each year, our Galway team transform the Cisco office building green, but the way we work has changed dramatically this year. With Webex becoming our new virtual office, it only made sense that we light up Webex green too. For the first time ever, and for one glorious day only, the Webex you know and love, is turning green. This was available only to users in our internal Cisco trials, but who knows, it might be something we productise for this and other holidays in the future!

Webex lights up green for St Patrick’s Day!

Our internal fun didn’t stop there. The local Webex team created a selection of incredible Irish themed virtual backgrounds. Perfect to get everyone on meetings in the spirit of the holiday. Below are a few examples of what we created. We would love to see what you come up with – use #GRMAWebex to share your St Patrick’s day virtual backgrounds.

Co-workers at Cisco using Irish backgrounds in their meeting

On March 16th we also hosted a St Patrick’s Day Trad Fest – our first virtual St Patrick’s Day Festival where we invited all Cisco employees and their family members to join and learn the history behind Irish music with special performances from our very own Irish traditional Cisco band. All hosted on Webex!

St. Patricks Day Trad Fest

The band covered classics such as ‘The Kesh Jig’ and ‘The Lilting Fisherman’ – and our very own Rory Walsh gave a stunning vocal performance of ‘You Couldn’t Have Come at a Better Time’. The band not only showcased their beautiful talents but were able to share a slice of our great Irish history with their fellow employees world-wide.

Cisco members of a meeting all playing instruments

And last but by no means least, it wouldn’t be a Cisco event if we didn’t have some star presence. Our lucky audience at St Patrick’s Day Trad Fest were blessed with an unforgettable performance from our special guest Noel Hill. Noel is an Irish concertina player from County Clare, who has enjoyed world-wide success and now teaches concertina locally and globally with the help of Cisco Webex. Noel’s stunning performance truly was the perfect highlight to end a fantastic Cisco St Patrick’s day.

We may not have been able to celebrate this St Patrick’s day like we traditionally would but, with the help of Webex we were all able to come together and celebrate our Irish culture as a team, in style! Truly enforcing how Cisco is the greatest place to work.

Don’t forget to share your virtual St Patrick’s day fun using #GRMAWebex

Learn more

Get the best video meeting experience with Webex Auto Configuration

Announcing the winners of Collaboration hackathon

Relaunch of the Webex Ambassador Program

Still need help?

What would you like to do?

Join a Webex online meeting.

Learn more about web meetings and video conferencing.

Explore daily product demonstrations

Sign up for Webex.

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

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Man sitting at computer looking at screen
What Stanford researchers don’t know: You can meet smarter to reduce video fatigue

Factors contributing to video fatigue

Meeting fatigue is real. And, in the era of COVID, “meeting” almost certainly means video conferencing. Stanford University researchers thought the problem was pervasive enough that they conducted a study to examine why too much video conferencing can exhaust the mind and body in what they say is commonly known as “Zoom fatigue” – although the researchers indicated this applies to all videoconferencing platforms. They arrived at four key factors that contribute to fatigue and even devised a way to measure it with the “Zoom Exhaustion & Fatigue” (ZEF) scale:

1) Excessive amounts of close-up eye contact is highly intense

2) Seeing yourself during video chats constantly in real-time is fatiguing

3) Video chats dramatically reduce our usual mobility

4) Higher cognitive load is much higher in video chats

While researchers gave some useful tips to counteract these problems, they are only short-term fixes to a problem that is endemic to the current era.

The answer is to meet smarter so you can meet less

Some companies, including at Cisco where I work, are implementing meeting-free days to minimize burn-out. But giving people a break from meetings and then going right back to Zoom fatigue the next day is also not the long-term answer.

The answer is using video conferencing technology to let people meet smarter so they can have fewer meetings on a REGULAR basis.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but over the past year, Webex has been working on ways to help people spend less time in meetings yet be more productive. Some of these innovations include:

  • Using an in-meeting digital assistant to capture transcripts, notes and action items, so you can fully focus in the meeting and get more done
  • Automated post-meeting follow-up enables easy distribution of notes and tracking action items, which may negate the need to have additional meetings to move work forward
  • Advanced messaging and team collaboration features let you continue work projects before, during and after the meeting, so much of it can be done asynchronously
  • Round table & Quick Sync meeting templates give everyone a dedicated speaking slot and time allocation, so no one can hog the discussion which reduces time sink
  • Real-time translation helps to break down language barriers and aids understanding, so fewer meetings are required for additional clarification

 

See Webex infographic to learn more about smart video conferencing

 

My Zoom Exhaustion & Fatigue score is very low

Out of curiosity, I took the ZEF survey just to see how I would score. And not surprisingly, it was very low:  I scored in the 8th percentile in Zoom fatigue, which means about 92% of people have more fatigue after videoconferencing than I do. I attribute that to three things:

  • My comfort with video having worked in the industry for more than 10 years
  • The intelligence in Webex which allows me to meet smarter on video and, thus, have fewer meetings
  • Working on a Webex Desk device, an all-in-one personal collaboration system that is comfortable to work on and contributes to less visual and physical fatigue

See how you score on the ZEF scale. And try Webex for free.

My score on the ZEF scale:

Stanford ZEF Scale Report
My score on the ZEF Scale Report

Resources

The all new Webex

Ready to make the switch to the new Webex?

Learn more

Making Video Fatigue a Thing of the Past— Webex Devices Deliver 10x Better Experiences

Join a Webex online meeting

Learn more about Webex, join one of our upcoming training sessions

Explore daily product demonstrations

Sign up for Webex

 

Read more
Securing users and devices in Webex

Common security challenges with users and devices

Today there are too many security challenges to the applications used by organizations, and many different vectors need to be secure:

  • User identities
  • Content
  • Devices
  • Transport

Security challenges to the applications.

The way that we protect the applications is crucial. We need to protect the application access, but also the identity of the user.

It is the job of the IT manager to prevent rogue agents from hijacking user identity and have access to all the different resources that the user is entitled to.

Identity theft has been identified in the Verizon 2019 report as the most common data breach, and if we add phishing attacks and stolen password, we get more than 50% of them. (1)

Breaches. Top threat action varieties in breaches

Protecting user identity

IT departments already understand that passwords are no longer an efficient way of protecting user identity.

It is difficult to manage application access based on passwords, as there are too many challenges:

  • Strong password complexity makes them hard to remember
  • Passwords should be unique to each app, which make them hard to remember
  • Passwords should rotate often which makes them difficult to manage and remember
  • Password manager web utilities can also bring security breaches

When deploying Webex, Cisco always recommends that our customers deploy it with a stronger authentication solution; at the same time, we recommend that the devices where Webex applications run are secure.

Strong authentication solution

Many customers want to enable all their applications with stronger authentication. Organizations realize that identity theft is the biggest security concern, and the traditional mechanisms for authentication are no longer effective.

Our customers talk about multifactor authentication (MFA), which means that their users need to provide two different types of authentication. There are three types of authentication mechanisms:

Strong authentication solution

Many vendors deliver these kinds of solutions; normally, we see them associated with Identity Provider (IdP) solutions. Those authentication policy servers, enforce the right authentication policy based on the different factor (location, application type, device type, etc.)

Today there is another trend in the identity market, where authentication mechanisms are people-centric and follow the Zero Trust mode. This allows secure connections to all applications (whether on-premises or in the cloud) based on the trustworthiness of users and devices. The Zero Trust mode enables the customer’s IT to set and enforce risk-based, adaptive access policies, and get enhanced visibility into users’ devices and activities. This concept is also known as Adaptive Authentication.

Cisco Webex right architecture

Cisco Webex has the right architecture to support the Zero Trust mode and allow secure connections based on the trustworthiness of users and devices.

Device validation and health

Device Validation and Health

Device assessment is a must in today’s organizations, identifying risky devices, enforcing contextual access policies, and reporting on device health.

Today organizations are mandated to follow many compliance goals, and they can achieve most of those using device access policies.

Verifying device health before granting access, to preventing exposing your applications to potential security risks is one of the best practices in modern application deployment models.

There are multiple types of devices that an organization’s users utilize every day when they use collaboration tools. Some of the devices are managed by the IT department, which already delivers some security insurance – but it isn’t enough. Some are unmanaged and owned by the employees, which brings interesting challenges from a security perspective.

Corporate managed devices/applications

CorporateManagedDevices:Applications

Normally there is a mix of solutions that can be used for corporate or managed devices, depending on the device type.

Some organizations use MDM/MAM for mobile devices, which allows them to create policies for the corporate application, for example:

  • Forcing PIN-lock
  • Preventing copy and paste
  • Disable screen capture
  • Remote wipe
  • Preventing tampering with devices
  • Requiring a minimum version of OS
  • Support for ECM
  • Requiring a minimum version of the corporate application

But since IT departments don’t manage only mobile devices, we also need to find a solution for desktops, and there we need to make sure that the corporate – managed applications are also aware of the security policies, and those apps could be aware of features like:

  • Versions of Browsers
  • OS versions and type
  • Disk encryption
  • Status on OS, Browsers, and Plugins
  • Firewalls
  • Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware

The protection of the application can be done by using the validations when the user logs in to the applications or during the application usage. The right mechanism, method, and deployment model needs to be chosen by IT administrations when they are in the deployment stage of those applications. The application vendors need to support any policy defined by the IT departments of those customers.

Cisco with Webex Collaboration doesn’t mandate any security strategy to protect the application, but we can integrate with any policy defined by our customer.

It is important that any application that deals with all the IP (Intellectual Property) produced by a company can follow all the policies that exist for devices and applications.

Non-managed devices

non managed devices

Devices that are owned by the users should not be excluded from the usage of a collaboration application. Examples of that are home computers, personal tablets, and mobile devices. Those devices are especially relevant in scenarios of working from home.

That is why corporate applications need to do extra check to make sure that they follow the minimum-security requirements imposed by the company security policies, for example:

  • The device has the firewall turned on
  • The device has an endpoint security tool, to protect against malware and viruses
  • The device doesn’t have a tampered OS

Normally these kinds of policies, for devices that are unmanaged, need to be enforced at login time.

Device/application visibility

Device:Application Visibility

One of the fundamental principles of good security is to understand your environment. But as environments get more complex with increasing reliance on cloud applications, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) allowances, and mobile and remote work, it’s progressively more difficult to gain that understanding.

For IT administrators, it is important that they have visibility on what devices each application is running; they also need to have visibility on the major characteristics of those devices.

Endpoint visibility also helps you understand and track important user behaviors such as how quickly end-users update their operating systems, browsers, or plugins. It also builds an understanding of when and how frequently end users log into work applications from their personal devices. Tracking these behaviors not only helps you set informed access policies but also helps tailor a more empathetic approach to different groups of users.

When it comes to security, trust Webex

Whether it’s the security of the Webex application itself or securing the devices that connect to it, Cisco Webex has security and privacy built into its DNA. Cisco has invested heavily in building a culture of security with the right checks and balances in place. Webex chooses secure default settings out of the box, thereby enabling users to start collaborating freely without having to worry about configurations. At the same time, Webex delivers a great user experience – one that doesn’t compromise security. That’s collaboration without compromise. That’s the Cisco security difference.

To learn more about Security and Compliance settings, go to the Cisco Webex Control Hub web page.

Resources

(1) Verizon 2019 report

Learn More

Administrators’ 3-step guide to managing devices remotely

Collaboration Without Compromise: A Security-First Approach to Remote Working

The World Has Changed — Security Should Transform to Stay Ahead

Read more
Modern business office with multi-ethnic team
What communication rules should you include in your startup business plan?

When you’ve just launched a startup or are working for one, there are a million things to do to get the organization on a sustainable trajectory. Market research, competitor analysis, financial projections, plus more mundane tasks such as finding office space and drawing up remote work policies – it’s all essential for starting a successful business.

The importance of having a startup business plan

Writing a business plan which addresses all of the above tasks might seem like more time and effort than it’s worth for startups already overwhelmed with simply recruiting employees and finding investors. But it pays off. 

A survey by Palo Alto Software found that startups that had completed a full business plan saw superior growth and had an easier time securing loans and investment capital than ones that hadn’t. Such improvement is critical in the highly competitive startup space, in which failure is routine. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 56% of all small businesses started in the year ending March 2014 had survived until March 2018

As you think about your startup business plan, it’s important to pay attention to the financial needs of your organization (e.g., how much cash flow it will have to generate to be sustainable), as well as to technical requirements, like what collaboration software employees will benefit from. Let’s look at everything a typical business plan template should include.

1. Executive summary

You’ve heard the term “elevator pitch.” The executive summary of a business plan is sort of like that: It provides a top-level overview of the entire document and is in effect a mini plan. 

It should only be 5% to 10% as long as the full plan, be written in short sentences and paragraphs, and briefly cover all the sections in the plan. Its audience will usually be banks and investors deciding whether to extend capital. Since it’s a summary, it will likely be completed only after the details below have been finalized.

2. Mission and objectives

Different types of businesses have different goals, whether that’s pioneering an all-new product or service or breaking into an established market. At this stage, you’ll want to introduce the startup in more detail by describing:

  • The organization’s core mission, vision, and goals.
  • What will set its offerings apart from what’s already out there.
  • What need it will fulfill and the markets it will target.
  • Where its operations will be based and which regions it will serve.
  • Where it currently stands, i.e what it’s already achieved.
  • What will be necessary for sustaining short- and long-term success.

Answering these questions will not only clear things up for would-be investors, but also give you insight into what you’ll need to invest in, like software. 

For example, let’s say you determine that you’ll sell to clients across the country, relying heavily on a team of mobile and remote workers. This might be a good sign that it’s prudent to invest in real-time collaboration tools like a video conferencing solution that can provide richer, more lifelike interactions between teams than a simple call or email would allow.

3. Product and service portfolio

Pretty straightforward: Include a full compendium of all of your products and/or services in this part of the startup business plan. Explain how they work, what stages of development they’re at, and how much they might cost. Include any relevant diagrams and supporting materials that flesh things out. 

Effective product rundowns make a huge difference in how investors will perceive the value of what you’re offering. Plus, getting them right at this early stage will help you develop clear product content like online descriptions, too. Almost 90% of customers video conferencing solution

4. Market analysis and planning

This is where things become even more granular. This phase establishes that your business idea is actually viable, via thorough analysis of your startup’s marketing plans, along with its targeted markets, customers, and competitors. How you actually conduct such due diligence will vary depending on your mission, but common action items include:

  • Performing SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis.
  • Determining the total addressable market for the product or service.
  • Explaining how the offering will be branded and marketed to customers.
  • Describing the demographics and personae of those customers.
  • Setting a budget for marketing and advertising.
  • Figuring out which sales channels to use.

You should also consider how your customer profiles and marketing plans will influence your technology strategy. If you are a B2B organization selling software, for instance, then holding video conferencing meetings can be a useful way to connect with leads in real time, demo the product with screen sharing, and build the high-quality connections that convert into sales. 

5. Operational and financial projections

Your startup business plan must offer clear insight into how the organization will operate and what type of cash flow it can be expected to generate. Pivotal points to cover are:

Operational:

  • How much office space will it need, and where.
  • Employee locations and headcount.
  • The hardware, software, and IT services it will require.
  • The structure of its supply chain.
  • Current logistics and distribution plans.
  • Legal and accounting needs.

 

Financial:

  • Current income and expenses.
  • Breakeven analysis, i.e. what must be sold over a given time period to cover the costs of doing business.
  • Past financial statements, if available.
  • Projections for the next year or multiple years.
  • Startup costs.
  • Capital needs and loan/funding requests.

 

There are many ways to reduce your startup’s estimated costs en route to being able to present a more sustainable picture of your operation. Remote work is one good option, as it reduces your need for office space and for expensive travel as well, if real-time collaboration software is in place to seamlessly bring employees together regardless of their physical locations.

6. Management structure

Startup founders often choose to run a somewhat lean operation early on, with only a few employees and minimal overhead. Still, it’s important to detail everyone involved in the company’s operations, including the full executive team, plus any shareholders, consultants, and advisors. That gives investors and partners an idea of who they’ll be interacting with and how much experience they have in the field, which can influence their decision on whether to fund the startup and, if so, at what amount.

Don’t skip making a startup business plan

This business plan example template covers the most common bases. It can literally pay dividends to create a well-structured and detailed startup business plan, since doing so will help convince others to fund your company and ensure you have the resources to start off on the right foot. The time spent creating the plan will more than pay for itself once your company secures funding or a loan.


Interested in learning more about video conferencing solutions? Try the Webex Free offer today.

 

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Cisco Meeting Server 2.7 Feature Release
Cisco Meeting Server 2.7 Feature Release

Your work days are jam packed, and it is crucial that you have all the collaboration tools and features you need. With the new Cisco Meeting Server 2.7 release, you have two new key features:

  1. Updated online meeting management capabilities
  2. A modernized CMS scheduling experience.

CMS Release 2.7 brings increased meeting management to your on-premises solution with:

  • Pane Placement: Pane placement using Cisco Meeting Management, allows you to choose who goes where in video layouts. With the new pane placement feature, the CMM operator has the ability to hand pick where the participants show up in the meeting layout. For instance, for video conferencing meetings with strict hierarchy, the meeting host can place the most important participant in the top left corner and so on. It locks the participants in a set location for the duration of the meeting.
  • Self-View: The self-view feature allows the presenter to see themselves in the layout, which is great for lectures and emergency response use cases where you want to ensure every site sees exactly the same layout.

TheCisco Meeting Server 2.7 release also modernizes the scheduling experience with CMS:

  • @MeetScheduling with TMS: Office 365 or Google Calendar customers can now leverage Webex Hybrid Calendar Services with TelePresence Management Suite (TMS) for a modernized scheduling experience. When scheduling an online meeting, add the keyword @meet to the location field. Include an on-premises registered video enabled end point for the one-button-to-push, easy join experience. When using @meet, the email invite will include the “how-to-join the meeting” details from any video device, Jabber, WebRTC, or telephone.

The Cisco Meeting Server 2.7 release continues our focus on quality and interoperability with:

  • Skype for Business RDP content quality improvement: Improvements to RDP content sharing enable faster sharing while using less bandwidth for a better meeting experience

For more information about Cisco Meeting Server 2.7 release read the release notes here. For Hybrid Calendar Services see this what’s new page.


Try Webex Meetings for free today.

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