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GCN : October 2013
potential of a UC deployment, it has to be ubiquitous across the organization. From the top down, workers need to have access to the same tools to be able to collaborate effectively and that is where taking an architectural approach becomes critical. QWhat can an agency do to create a "culture of collaboration" that fully realizes the bene ts of uni ed communications? A We really begin to see the transformational nature of this technology when organizations adopt a philosophy that collaboration tools such as videoconferencing and telepresence are not just for executives but should be available to everyone across the board. That enables workers at all levels to collaborate up and down the chain, as well as across organizations. This is where collaboration tools can help break down organizational stove pipes and facilitate the sharing of information in a way that is highly ef cient and productive. But it's not enough to deploy the technology -- agencies need to make sure that their users are comfortable with it enough to adopt it on a broad scale and make it a signi cant part of their business processes. By instituting policies and programs that compel end- users to take full advantage of the UC capabilities, they will see a far greater return on their investment. QIn what ways can agencies leverage uni ed communications to support employees working at home or in the eld? A It is critical to provide all employees with the same high-quality experience whether they are working at home, in the eld, or at the of ce. Such consistency is becoming more of a challenge with the adoption of bring- your-own-device policies, as IT managers nd themselves managing multiple devices on different platforms. That's why at Cisco, we believe in being platform- and operating system-agnostic. We want to ensure that consistency of capability in delivering video from wherever you may be located. The device might be different, but the experience should be the same. In addition to the technology, agencies need to be aware of implementing policies and programs to support a remote workforce. For example, if they require IT support, is there a documented process? In addition, as mentioned earlier, it's important to have programs in place to ensure that all workers are comfortable with new technology and are maximizing the usage and adoption. QPlay the prognosticator: What is your vision for how agencies will be using uni ed communications two or three years from now? AIn today's environment, UC is largely a tool for internal communications within agencies. As these tools become increasingly pervasive across government organizations and at the consumer level, uni ed communications could become a greater part of the processes that agencies use to engage with citizens. We are seeing it on the state and local level with Connected Justice, in which citizens engage with courts remotely to expedite the judicial process, making it possible both to increase ef ciency and lower costs. We see similar opportunities to use UC to improve constituent services at the federal level, such as conducting grant reviews at the National Institutes of Health, designing enhanced taxpayer services at the Internal Revenue Service, or adjudicating cases within the Social Security Administration.