Cisco has an extensive portfolio of collaboration tools, including video-conferencing solutions and team collaboration software. In 2018 EGGS Design was included by Cisco in exploring ways to create better synergies between the Cisco platform and their tools and services to cater for third parties to innovate. The goal was to explore a sustainable platform business model. This effort required cross-collaboration between many different business units across the Norwegian and the San Francisco-based Cisco offices. Central tasks included building a shared understanding of Cisco's challenges and opportunities with such a business model.
In a rapidly developing landscape for digital collaboration, Cisco and Hallgrim Sagen, Cisco's previous design-thinking manager, wanted to have a closer look at how they could extract more value from their existing portfolio of video conferencing devices and collaboration software by shifting to a platform business model.
A platform business model creates value by facilitating exchanges between two or more interdependent groups, usually consumers and producers. It requires a very different mindset compared to building a technology platform. The latter is a group of technologies used as a base upon which other applications, processes or technologies are developed.
A platform business model focuses on enabling third parties to innovate and exchange value using your products and services as infrastructure.Jørgen Solstad, Creative director of business design, EGGS Design
Cisco invited business designers in EGGS to co-facilitate this exploration process. The task was to leverage design thinking processes to enable different business-units and stakeholders to create a new concept built on a platform business model.
Complexity and the micro-macro perspective
One of the main challenges was to ensure that all participants had a deep enough understanding of the topic to contribute efficiently. Early findings found that workshops addressing the big picture often left the stakeholders feeling that the concepts were hard to relate to in their everyday job. Also, they found that the solution space was too broad to initiate an ideation process. Most ideas were so top-level that they seemed both self-evident and unattainable at the same time.
In the opposite end workshops centring on specific use-cases such as products, applications, and features seemed too abstract, or worse yet appeared to miss the big-value creation offered by building a platform business model in the first place. We dubbed this the micro-macro challenge.
To improve workshop quality in both the micro and macro end, we applied storytelling to onboard the stakeholders to the concept before all workshops. The creation of a concept-movie based on initial insights, proved to be efficient. In the 15-minute-long movie, (produced by EGGS), we explained the platform concept and its underlying principles. The result was that everyone started the workshops on the same page and understood the workshop's level of zoom.
Cross-Atlantic, cross-department, complexity-crunching
In addition to solving the micro-macro challenge, we helped facilitate the collaboration form internationally, between the Norwegian and the San Francisco Cisco-offices and across Cisco-departments. With a complex concept that touches almost all aspects of Cisco’s business, it was vital that we involved stakeholders broadly and catered for them to speak the same language. In addition to an informative concept movie, we developed extensive ecosystem overviews to ensure everyone discussed the same thing.
The project's end deliverable was a movie explaining how a concept for a Platform Business Model could work in Cisco, using both the micro and the macro lens.
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