Lithys 2014: Cisco - The Organization Game Changer

Lithys 2014: Cisco - The Organization Game Changer

Company: Cisco Cisco logo.png

Entry submitted by: Becky Scott (lolagoetz) Sr. Project Manager

Community: Tech Zone (, internal community

Lithy category:The Organization Game Changer


Powered by the Lithium platform, we are shaping the new Social Knowledge Management Environments (SKMEs) that are transforming the way employees and customers create, consume, iterate and reuse knowledge across the enterprise. Through collaboration with partners and customers, we jointly address customer opportunities and challenges, capture, transform, and evolve intellectual capital across organizational boundaries into knowledge assets; while keeping stakeholders informed at all stages of our processes. We are converging Social & Enterprise Collaboration, Content Management and Knowledge Management within our SKMEs. Through our methods and capabilities of delivering SKMEs, we are able introduce new ways of thinking about how we do business as an organization.



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We are part of Cisco Services – specifically the Services Transformation organization responsible for Intellectual Capital Transformation (ICT). Our goal is to transform the way we capture institutional knowledge at Cisco by not only changing business processes and outcomes, but changing the way people think about social knowledge and collaboration. We are doing that by delivering capabilities in which users can collaborate to solve problems and quickly identify solutions as candidates to be knowledge assets. Additionally, we’re evolving our workflow for content and knowledge management dynamically, thereby transforming our processes from three down to one. We are successful when people across the company are freely creating intellectual capital with each other in such a way that others can reuse it and improve upon it later. By realigning the way we do business, we focus on reducing costs and increasing revenue. These focus areas are nothing new to any business. However, we achieve this transformation by disrupting the how and why of our business workflows to achieve greater efficiency and improve customer satisfaction through four foundations:  Collaboration Opportunities, Expertise Acceleration, Content Lifecycle, and Knowledge Trace Back


By leveraging the Lithium platform we are able to deliver the following foundational benefits:


1) Collaboration Opportunities: Aligning our business processes across organizational boundaries, we are changing the way we interact and operate as a business. Using the tools that enable our Social Knowledge Management Environment, we provide real-time collaboration and push our business activities internally and externally. For example, we have a company-wide initiative that crosses over many areas of responsibility (silos). We need a source of truth for gathering information and connecting with others. We host discussions around the initiative that include our approach, the relevancy of what we're doing, why we're doing them and manage the projects connected to the initiative within our collaborative environment. We leverage Lithium to accelerate our ability to disrupt the usual way of doing business by bringing information into one place. It allows experts to find each other and a community can form around it. This has created a more transparent and collaborative culture.


2) Expertise Acceleration: Our Social Knowledge Management Environment expedites the processes of transforming new knowledge workers into experts, and sharing / contributing new information dynamically. For example, a relatively new executive needed a quick consultation and advice about a project. At the same time, he joined one of our webinars around the topic of securing networks. This webinar led him to Cisco Community Connector where he was able to explore, communicate and collaborate with his peers in other companies and industries. The result was an increase in his connections, more knowledge around his topic, and a greater network of resources than he had before. Just by being involved in the community, he gained the real-time knowledge that he needed to recommend the right solutions for his company.


By increasing this executive's ability to learn and be mentored, we've extended the learning process outside of the traditional training model. Learning new skills is enabled from within the platform by giving users and knowledge contributors instant access to knowledge from a variety of sources they didn't have previously.


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3) Content Lifecycle: In the past, collaboration occurred in environments—such as email, document storage, and IMs—that didn’t require users to rethink the normal workflow or that was not engineered to facilitate easy content retention. Now with our Social Knowledge Management Environments (SKMEs) we not only retain the collaborative exchange, we are able to flag and promote these exchanges into knowledge articles that can be reused and distributed. This has enabled us to do a baseline exercise that wasn’t possible before. Now we’re able to isolate what’s appropriate to share vs. what’s not truly needed. And we keep content up-to-date, dynamic and searchable. It no longer lives on someone’s hard drive, inaccessible to everyone else.


Using the collaboration abilities in Lithium, we’re able to identify opportunities to share information across the enterprise and out to customers. This leads us into a proactive way of managing content within a team, versus the old way of being reactive. Additionally, we’ve become more transparent as an organization by allowing all users to contribute to knowledge (at any stage) instead of creating ideas, documents, and processes in a vacuum.


4) Knowledge Trace Back: Our SKME enables real-time tracking of an asset’s provenance. It provides the ability for us to identify who our knowledge experts are and how we get to them. We have better understanding about the contributors to our knowledge and our knowledge base.


Our Social Knowledge Management Environment connects experts to their contributions, making it possible to trace back and discover the true origin of any knowledge article. This capability drives deeper engagement through incentives, fosters scalable mentorship programs, reduces duplicate efforts, and enables a more efficient business process and streamlined communications.

For example, a customer’s environment was changing rapidly due to new leaders, new deliverables, and unknown factors specifically around BYOD demands in a corporate environment. The challenge was finding a way for the customer to increase his knowledge base and insight into industry practices. We assisted this by connecting him with Cisco BYOD experts and colleagues he didn’t previously have a connection to. It removed obstacles and created a new collaborative network that didn’t exist previously.


As the Intellectual Capital Transformation (ICT) team within Cisco Services, we push the limits of the nature of collaboration. We not only extend and grow our capabilities—providing a comprehensive view of our team activities to various stakeholders—we use our knowledge-sharing and foundational approach to extend the thinking of new groups looking to use social knowledge management. It is about the dynamic, collective nature of social collaboration coupled with knowledge management that signifies the value of the activities producing, retaining, and reusing our intellectual capital in innovative ways. What's different? We're connecting people who hadn't been connected before and removing barriers to cross-functional and cross-industry knowledge through collaboration. It's about leveraging business process and workflow and establishing integral relationships with our technology that impacts the value of true social knowledge collaboration. We connect those senior level managers to each other so they can increase their expertise, learn more, create new content via white papers, or collaborate on things they may not have gotten a chance to do without this dynamic environment.

We are creating a whole new model within Cisco that we, in fact, showcase in our own business processes that can be leveraged within any business function. Given the dynamic nature of collaboration we are able to connect experts with users, where before they would have never known the others existed. Moreover, we are able to scale in such as way that an expert can provide mentorship to many peers virtually rather than one or few in traditional mentoring models.


It all starts with conversations, which lead to the community, which provides the connections.  As word spreads, more people hear about it and want to be involved. The community naturally grows and produces reusable knowledge because of the ownership the community members take in making it a success. By measuring the number of accepted solutions to questions, the activity of discussions and knowledge bases, and overall user activity within the social knowledge management environment, we improve customer satisfaction and employee effectiveness—all of which can be measured in productivity time.


By leveraging our social knowledge management environment, ICT has reduced the time required for meetings, increased awareness and visibility internally and with our stakeholders, and has been able to move projects forward without the need for additional resources. Additionally, these same methods have enabled our stakeholders to have full visibility into what we are doing and the upcoming priorities, which has resulted in improving their own ability to move their initiatives forward in a more timely manner.


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Lithium Alumni (Retired)
Status changed to: 2014 Lithy Submission