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Optimizing your Spark Experience


November 23, 2015


Author: Nicky Kearns – Follow @ciscokearns on Twitter.

I have had many great conversations with customers, partners and colleagues over the past weeks and months about Cisco Spark. They revolve around two things, what it is and how to best use it. The first part has been well covered in blogs by Rowan Trollope but in essence Spark is a team work application that is transforming the way we communicate and get work done. For the purposes of this blog, I would like to show how I have optimized Spark into a very powerful collaboration tool, to the point that it is now the first thing I look at when coming online in the morning and the last thing I look at as I finish my day.  It’s amazing how quickly my habits have changed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXDYOqJqc5I

I have had many great conversations with customers, partners and colleagues over the past weeks and months about Cisco Spark. They revolve around two things, what it is and how to best use it. The first part has been well covered in blogs by Rowan Trollope but in essence Spark is a team work application that is transforming the way we communicate and get work done. For the purposes of this blog, I would like to show how I have optimized Spark into a very powerful collaboration tool, to the point that it is now the first thing I look at when coming online in the morning and the last thing I look at as I finish my day.  It’s amazing how quickly my habits have changed.

I am making the assumption that you are already a user and have started to grow the number of rooms you are in. As the number of rooms grow, the amount of information dramatically increases and can become overwhelming… to the point that you are afraid of Spark and afraid to use it for your projects. A common theme is as follows: “I am getting too many notifications on my mobile device so I have turned off notifications for Spark. Now I find I am missing critical information because I forget to check Spark.”

First thing to do is to turn those notifications back on again! But at the same time, go through all your rooms and ‘mute’ the ones that you never want to be alerted when there are updates. Particularly focus on noisy rooms with lots of members.

Next, go through all your rooms that are key to your daily work, i.e. projects you are actively working on. Mark these ones as Favourites. For the most part, your favourites may correspond to the rooms you have unmuted but they don’t have to be.

As a result, you will now only get notifications from the stuff you are actively working on or that you care about. Also, when I look at Spark I will focus on unread messages in my ‘Favourites’ folder and my 1-on-1 folder first. The other unread messages can wait for ‘when I have time’.

Small tip here: If you are watching a noisy, but muted room and you want to ask a question or make an observation and you want to see the feedback, consider favouriting that room temporarily. I do this to good effect.

I would like to share with you one observation here. My awareness of the inefficiencies of email as a collaboration tool hit me the other day. For example, I can never find the last email thread because the subject lines constantly change and there are 10 different conversations in 10 different email chains. This translates to a large amount of wasted time; we can all relate. And I can tell you, tuning Spark for best results takes a lot less time than tuning Outlook for best results!

Spark has significantly improved and tidied up how I communicate with team members, partners, and customers.  I know I can go to one room – where all the relevant participants will be and all the relevant content will reside.  Give it a go!

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1 Comments

  1. Wouldn’t you know it? The two new features planned for Spark that I did not discuss are now available, i.e @mentions and the ‘Important’ filter.
    ‘Important’ filter catches all rooms that you have marked as ‘important’ but it also shows recent 1:1 conversations and any @mentions rooms. It also fixes one of the great annoyances in that when you are added to a room, previously you would have to watch for new rooms in your ‘Unread’ filter, but now they show in your ‘important’ filter. Nice!
    So now my workflow is to check the Important folder first and then I go to Favourites and then all Unread…
    -Nicky