Throughout today’s Cisco Spark launch, I couldn’t help but to think I was watching not a Cisco event, but an Apple one. Most of the event surrounded the new Spark Board, which itself sounded again like Apple when it was described as “Scandinavian minimalist design meets California approachability.”

The entire Mantra of the Spark Board was nothing new on the surface: zero cables, digital whiteboard, video conferencing unit; but taking an existing idea and executing it better than anyone else has worked before, for you guessed it: Apple.

My favorite takeaway from the launch event was just how relevant Jonathon Rosenberg spoke about the problem with today’s workflow. While I was watching the event in fact, I was in a scheduled WebEx meeting to talk about something that very well could have been handled “offline.” I’ve always been vocal on how frustrating it is asking someone to be 100% engaged when they don’t need to be, but had a hard time putting it into words. It’s neither efficient nor fair for the employee and certainly not for the customer!

We no longer work 8am to 5pm weekdays behind a desktop with 100% engagement. We work various times with varying levels of engagement. We can work in line at the grocery store from mobile devices now. Spark is OK with this.

Jonathon Rosenberg put the problem of meetings into time vs. engagement, and correlated these into the 4 categories below, which prior to Spark meant you had to use 4 different applications, each functional in some ways and lacking in others.

The first big industry disrupter to come along in this new market space was Slack, which had persistent chat, it was teams-based, and has a ton of APIs to integrate with other applications. Slack took the place of email in most cases and the need for a meeting for some others – however it was lacking the vision of an all-in-one application Rowan and team had for Spark. Not only does Spark aim to replace email, but its also a video phone, whiteboard, meeting space. It’s persistent and teams based with APIs but it also has the Spark cloud with an IVR builder. I can’t wait to see what comes next with their recent Worklife acquisition. Ahem: Cisco Spark Meeting Notes

Cisco Spark –

Cisco Spark Board –

Another word I’ve heard buzzing around lately, microservices works to brings cloud and containers a step further and modularizes the application into smaller function-specific mini applications that work together through APIs. With this approach, the elasticity of the cloud is tuned to the needs of the subscribers, and the business only pays for the network and compute resources they need on a more granular level. The early adopters at this point are the usual suspects: Airbnb, Uber and Netflix.

“the microservice architectural style is an approach to developing a single application as a suite of small services, each running in its own process and communicating with lightweight mechanisms, often an HTTP resource API.”

Principals of Microservices (PPT)