Optimizing your Spark Experience

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.


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!

About Cisco Canada

Humans, devices and things are connecting. We’re assimilating a network that is complex, awe-inspiring and powerful. And we’re doing it faster than before. Tomorrow, we’ll work, live, play and learn much differently than we do today. Tomorrow’s world will surface an exciting, dynamic and thoughtful conversation — one that will transpire in the social web among thought leaders, network architects and early adopters. Cisco, the beating heart of this transformation, has the distinct opportunity and authority to lead this conversation. And with Cisco at the heart, more things will be connected, and tomorrow will be built with our imaginations. La connexion entre humains, appareils et objets est en train de s'établir. Nous sommes en voie d'assimiler un réseau complexe, imposant et puissant. Et nous sommes en train de le réaliser beaucoup plus vite qu'avant. Demain, notre travail, nos vies, nos loisirs et nos apprentissages seront très différents d'aujourd'hui. Le monde futur émergera de dialogues dynamiques et éclairés qui surgissent des liens sociaux tissés entre des chefs de file éclairés, des architectes réseau et des pionniers dans l'adoption de technologies. Et avec Cisco au coeur du mouvement, plus de choses se feront connecter qui permettra de construire un avenir fondé sur la richesse de notre imagination.
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2 Responses to Optimizing your Spark Experience

  1. Nicky Kearns says:

    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

  2. Pingback: Optimizing your Spark Experience | #CiscoAM

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