Archive for October, 2021

Why Invest in a Hybrid Workforce? Innovation

illustration of computer with words 'stay connected'

This post summarizes a longer article on hybrid work by Grant Shirk, originally published here.

When we only consider the short-term implications of a flexible, anywhere work environment, it’s easy to pigeonhole hybrid work as simply the natural transition of pandemic-forced remote work back to an office-centric model. The reality is far more complex, and far more valuable. 

While we’ve talked about the emergence of the hybrid workforce many times here on the Meraki blog, I believe that we’re just at the beginning of a new wave of disruptive thinking, organizational models, and market innovation. 

“This is what disruption looks like. It happens slowly at first, then very quickly. It seems impossible to imagine a different way to do things, then [suddenly] we’re doing things in a different way. Stay tuned for a whole new way to work.” 

– Steven Sinofsky, “Creating the Future of Work”

In a recent article, Steven Sinofsky argued, “the post-pandemic world will provide the impetus and tools to rethink the Corporation, and more broadly innovation.” He argues that while centralization was the primary strategic tool organizations used to scale in a post-World War II world, the advent of remote and hybrid workplaces is about to upend a half-century of business-model stagnation.

We see this disruption taking hold across our customer base, from the smallest start-up to the most innovative members of the Fortune 500. The lessons they have learned from remote work are informing more cohesive, effective, and innovative hybrid workplaces. Leaders seizing this opportunity are actively rethinking how their teams operate—and they’re quickly distancing themselves from the competition. 

The core enabler of this disruption is the network. Secure, flexible, and cloud-managed networks provide the platform IT teams need to not only do new things in new ways, but build exceptional experiences for employees and customers alike.

When we invest in a hybrid workforce, we’re investing in the disruptive innovators that will drive business forward. The ideas we can’t conceive of yet. The creative thinkers hiding in our teams, waiting for a catalyst to spur their emergence.

As you look ahead to the next few months, are you approaching this as a return to a new normal, or is your team stepping forward into a completely new era of corporate operations, and innovation? Your network might be more powerful than you think. 

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How to Get Results Fast, without the Burden of Building IT Tools Yourself

Today, we’re announcing a refreshed Meraki Marketplace. It features a number of usability enhancements and sports a brand new look. Since its inception, the Marketplace has grown to feature more than 185 pre-built apps built by over 90 ecosystem partners showcasing use cases across 40+ business categories.

Meraki Marketplace screenshot

Launched in April 2019, the Meraki Marketplace was designed to be a one-stop  destination for applications that help Meraki customers achieve better business outcomes fast. Automate tasks without diving into Python libraries or REST conventions, or coding business workflows/use cases in software. No more scripting or building tools using APIs—our ecosystem technology partners do that for you, as they constantly develop apps on top of the Meraki platform. Need to count vehicles? There’s an app for that. How about analyze stadium crowd behavior? There’s an app for that too.  

We heard you on the ever-growing list of partner and app choices, so we went back to one of Meraki’s core values—Simplify Everything—to redesign the Marketplace. Here are some of the navigational enhancements:

  • View apps categorized by outcomes and experiences, such as hybrid work
  • Filter apps by specific industry, product integration, and geographic region 
  • Browse using the top-level categories of business solutions and network management, each having several sub-categories  
  • Discover apps by popularity, newness, and our picks from the sidebar

Also, the new look of the Marketplace matches the brand identity that we launched a few months ago to enhance the overall digital experience.

We are not stopping here. We would love to hear your suggestions to keep improving – so head over to the Meraki Community to continue the dialog.

The ecosystem drives the Marketplace and is central in delivering immediate solutions for customers’ challenges in IT and IoT. The Meraki platform powers roughly ten million devices daily across 600,000+ customers, with over 23 billion weekly touchpoints. Our technology partners harness this hard data, reduce alert fatigue, and turn it into meaningful experiences via pre-built apps. 

Your outcomes don’t need to wait. Visit the Meraki Marketplace today at to find your use case. You can also access Meraki Marketplace directly from your beloved Meraki dashboard. Navigate to the top bar and select Marketplace in the “Help” drop-down menu.

5 Ways to Accelerate Your Safety and Security Modernization

How can you get ahead of today’s rising security threats? More importantly, how can you do more with your security team and create new value beyond just the safety and security of your organization? Today, we’re tackling security leaders’ top challenges with aging video surveillance infrastructure. These tips are designed to help you understand what’s possible when modernizing your security technology.

1. Remove the friction. 

  • 54% of security leaders surveyed want real-time alerts and easy access to video footage
  • Cisco Meraki MV smart cameras have intelligent alerts to notify you of suspicious activity, even when no one is watching; access video quickly, locally, or remotely on the browser-based Meraki Vision portal or the Meraki mobile app

2. Less headaches. More control.

  • Seven out of ten security professionals want simple deployment and easy-to-use video cameras when considering a new system
  • Meraki MV is an everything-in-the-box solution that deploys in minutes 
  • The intuitive interface makes it easy to find answers quickly and share video when needed

3. Peace of mind. Be secure, automatically.

  • 3.5 of 4 is the level of concern of cybersecurity risk to camera systems
  • Meraki cameras have hardware security built in, with automatic end-to-end encryption and auto firmware updates from the cloud to ensure the security of your physical space

4. Work smarter, not harder.

  • Two out of every three security professionals are looking for a video security solution that provides artificial intelligence and business insights 
  • Meraki cameras have intelligence built in so you can get more from your physical security—everything from PPE detection and license plate recognition to occupancy information

5. Partners through thick and thin.

  • 66% of physical security leaders factor warranty and customer support as a leading purchasing decision factor
  • Meraki offers 24/7 phone and email support so you can get help when you need it, plus a 5-year warranty on our hardware

Moving to a modern video surveillance framework creates the opportunity for innovation and new value across the organization as needs change and evolve. 

Meraki provides cloud-managed video surveillance solutions and sensors that make it easier for organizations to deploy, view, manage, and share video securely—from anywhere, at any time, and on any device. Take advantage of Meraki’s comprehensive ecosystem of partner apps to rapidly scale out solutions and go beyond monitoring to protect people, places, and things.

Learn more about Meraki physical security solutions and be ready for what comes next.

Build the Future with Hybrid Workplace Technology

Home office worker on a video conference call

No matter how you look at it, creating memorable experiences for employees and customers is table stakes for success, growth, and staying competitive. As your business plans for the future, robust hybrid workplace technologies will be critical in reconnecting with the people most important to you.

To ease your transition to a modern hybrid workforce, we’ll dive into: 

  • What a hybrid workplace is 
  • Types of technologies to consider
  • Examples of hybrid work models
  • How Meraki can support your technology needs

Let’s do this. 

What is hybrid work?

First things first—hybrid simply means the mixture of two different things, whether that’s hybrid cars (electric motor + gas engine) or even ligers (tigers x lions). 

A hybrid workplace is where a mixture of remote workers and in-person workers meet. It mainly comes down to flexibility on where, when, and how your employees work. 

At Cisco Meraki, we’re transitioning permanently to a hybrid workforce: some remote workers, some in-office workers, others who split their time between the office and home—all of us connected by technology to work from anywhere. 

As digital and physical experiences converge, with great flexibility comes great responsibility. Looking after people’s well-being and health while preserving a location-agnostic company are additional dimensions that, with the right technology, can help you fuel people’s happiness. 

This opens up exciting opportunities to create flexible hybrid workplace experiences with innovative technology underpinning your transformation. 

Types of hybrid workplace technologies

Which types of hybrid workplace technologies need to be considered to foster collaboration, communication, and engagement? 

Below are seven hybrid workplace technology categories we recommend: 

1. Security: Strong cybersecurity, privacy, and trust practices that cut across all workplace technologies are an imperative to protect your business and people from online threats and risks, wherever they work. With small businesses being affected by 62% of cyberattacks that cost $1.2M on average, a lack of online defense systems can lead to devastating losses that stifle growth. 

Examples: firewalls, endpoint and VPN security, password security, and email security

2. Collaboration: Customer innovation happens best when teams are in sync and able to connect freely. Team collaboration tools can cover a wide range of needs, from online whiteboarding to real-time document collaboration. Look for solutions that let you simplify and digitalize your tools and work for everyone. 

Examples: document sharing (Google Docs, Microsoft Office Online), file sharing (Dropbox), project management (Asana, Trello), and virtual whiteboarding (Webex)

3. Communication: In an environment where work from anywhere happens, video communication is integral to engagement. To level communication fields across in-office and work-from-home, look for video conferencing tools that best mirror in-person experiences. Additional tools to streamline operations include instant messaging and email. 

Examples: Webex and Webex Teams

4. Safety: Physical security is key for protecting staff and customers on-site. To provide safe experiences for everyone, tools such as security cameras and sensors can help you monitor the environment, maintain health compliance, and get new AI/ML insights on your surroundings. 

Examples: security cameras and environmental sensors  

5. Smart offices: Creating innovative and efficient offices of tomorrow starts with smart workplace technology. Opt for tools that leverage IoT and analytics to enable unique use cases tailored to the people you serve. The possibilities are endless: space management tools, facial and voice recognition systems, smart energy solutions, and more.

Examples: smart security, face mask detection, hot-desking, and smart cleaning 

6. Customer engagement: For the bread and butter of your business, there’s a wide open canvas to redefine customer excellence with smart workplace technologies. Invest in IoT solutions that offer flexibility, automation, and insight with motion detection, Bluetooth?, infrared, and more to help you improve customer experiences. 

Examples: contactless guest check-in, counterless payments, and in-store virtual assistance

7. People analytics: With so many different workplace technologies and tools, there’s plenty of insight you can use for the betterment of your employees’ well-being and productivity, and for increasing customer retention and loyalty. Take action by gleaning data from preferred employee collaboration tools to how people move around your physical spaces.  

Examples: video analytics, safe occupancy, optimized product displays, and branded Wi-Fi pages

The hybrid workplace model

As each company’s needs and the needs of their individual staff vary, there’s no single hybrid workplace model that works for every small business. 

Let’s look at three common structures for a hybrid work model:  

1. Remote-centric hybrid: A remote-centric model is where employees mainly work remotely, but some teams may be required to be fully or partially in-office. It tends to model a fully remote company by digitalizing communication and collaboration tools to accommodate employees in varying time zones. 

2. Hybrid remote office: A remote office hybrid workplace model is one where employees have flexibility to choose the days they want to be in the office. Having some guidelines can create more predictability for team members to be in-office on the same days to enhance collaboration. 

For example, RRMM Architects, a leading architecture firm in Virginia with 125+ employees, has been experimenting with a hybrid work model where people alternate being in the office different days of the week: 

  • Group A: in-office Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
  • Group B: in-office Tuesday and Thursday 

Group A and Group B then flip their in-office days the next week, allowing for more flexibility.

3. Office-centric hybrid: An office-centric hybrid work model is one where employees primarily work from the office, but there may be some flexibility to work remotely a few days each week. The technologies, tools, and processes will slant more toward in-office work vs. accommodating remote workers. 

Implementing the right technology to support any type of hybrid work can provide unrivaled, consistent experiences, making it easier for you to reconnect with the people who matter most.

How Meraki can help

As you think about your hybrid work technology needs, let’s look at a small-office example powered by Meraki. We’ll follow two employees on a Monday: 

Mike: IT admin, in-office 

Kate: Sales Director, at home

  • 8:00 am: Kate connects to a work VPN from her home teleworker gateway device to access company tools for a weekly team Webex call. She authenticates her log in via her mobile device using their mobile device management solution. 
  • 8:45 am: Mike enters the office, passing by the MV smart cameras which detect people and vehicles, and can anonymously count people to help ensure safe occupancy. 
  • 9:00 am: Mike checks the Meraki dashboard for security alerts of unusual activity over the weekend from their MX security and SD-WAN devices. 
  • 12:00 pm: Kate hits error messages when trying to send email or connect to VPN. She posts urgently in the Webex IT channel as she has a 1:00 pm client call. Mike triages from the Meraki dashboard. Turns out, Kate just needed to update the VPN authentication settings with her new password. 
  • 4:00 pm: Booya! Mike officially launches their MV camera integration with PlaceOS. It’ll keep employees like Kate and visitors safer, and save his team time by automating workflows—from wayfinding to desk booking to smart cleaning. 

That’s just a glimpse of the power our cloud-first networking technologies provide as you build a foundation of tools to reconnect and thrive. 

Download our Small Business Reconnecting Guide for more ideas on how Meraki technologies can help strengthen your current and future employee and customer relationships.