News & Analysis

Cisco’s Webex All Set to Win the Hybrid Workforce

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Cisco brings an array of new features to Webex to dramatically improve the Hybrid Work experience.

When the global workforce shifted to remote work almost overnight in the early 2000s, and most companies jumped into the collaboration bandwagon, Cisco’s Webex suite, a collaboration platform, lacked many of the core features needed for remote work. Cisco however has launched more than 1,000 Webex innovations in the last 12 months, and has bounced back to target the hybrid workforce, workplace, events, and IT teams with its collaboration technology. At WebexOne 2021, Cisco announced significant new innovations across its Webex ecosystem to win the hybrid work market.

Webex Suite’s new meetings and messaging capabilities and collaboration devices are aimed at helping customers to work from everywhere. The new Webex Events portfolio powers hybrid events at scale. Additionally, Webex interoperability with rival Zoom, Microsoft and Google video communications platforms ensures seamless collaboration with customers’ preferred platforms and devices.

“Technology has many powers, and the greatest of all is its ability to connect people and level the playing field for so many across the globe,” said Jeetu Patel, EVP and GM, Cisco Security and Collaboration.

“Our new Webex innovations mark a significant step forward in helping our customers unlock the potential of their hybrid workforces – enabling them to collaborate in new ways and drive inclusive experience.”

Hardware innovation

The company’s new Webex Desk Mini enables workers to easily create a workspace anywhere. It features a 15.6-inch interactive 1080p display, 64-degree HD camera, full-range speaker and background noise removal mic array. The Webex Desk Mini and Webex Desk with personalized colors are expected to be available to order in early 2022 starting at $995 USD and $1,249 USD, respectively.

It is also bringing enhanced camera intelligence to its People Focus camera capabilities, to be available in early 2022 are expected to further improve the view of people in meeting rooms  and will provide better clarity and optimized visuals of in-room attendees’ facial gestures and body language.

Webex White boarding enables users to create, find, edit and share whiteboards with anybody—including people outside of your organization—using any device mobile, tablet, laptop, or any touch-enabled Webex devices, including the new Webex Board Pro that features integrated video, dual 4K cameras, directional audio, and two active styluses. Two versions — a 55 inch for $8,995 and a 75 inch for $14,995 — will be available in November.

The US-based company has unveiled a preview of its next-generation hybrid work collaboration product – Webex Hologram – that takes advantage of Augmented Reality (AR) headsets to combine feature rich Webex meeting functionality with immersive 3D holograms.

Webex Hologram represents a large step toward our mission of delivering a work experience so seamless that there is no gap between virtual and in-person collaboration, said Patel and added that Webex Hologram is compatible with industry-leading AR headsets such as Magic Leap and Microsoft HoloLens.

Innovation to support hybrid work environment

At the event Cisco announced several new capabilities to power inclusive hybrid working, which include:

AI-powered audio intelligence system in which Webex’s optimize for all voices feature equalizes voices to ensure all participants can be heard, regardless of how far they are from a conference phone device. Speaker selectivity now differentiates intended speech from background noise to remove distracting sounds.

The new Webex Collaboration Insights features help teams combat common workforce fatigue and empower personal well-being. Connections keep track of the top 10 people users collaborated with weekly, new titles and locations of colleagues, and more. Well-being and Cohesion features in Personal Insights give teams an anonymous view into work time patterns, sentiment ratings and focus time goals. A manager, for example, can see a spike in team members working late in the evening and low rankings, and proactively address how to alleviate this.

Asynchronous communication to minimize meetings: Seeing that only 48% of participants on average speak in meetings as workers straddle time zones and balance meeting overload, asynchronous communication like Vidcast provides the ability to record, watch, comment and react at their own pace. Vidcast’s beta is now open to the public at vidcast.io and is projected to be integrated in the Webex App in mid-2022.

Powering hybrid events

Following the acquisitions of Socio Labs and Slido, Cisco is unveiling an expanded Webex Events portfolio to help organizations power hybrid events of all types and sizes – from webinars to multisession events and conferences. Hybrid event management capabilities, including badging and printing for ticketing, monetization and networking are now available. Customers can host up to 10K attendees in webinar mode and 100K in webcast mode via Webex Webinars. Integration of Slido’s polling, quizzing and Q&A technology in Webex Events increases attendee interactivity and engagement.

Webex devices support interoperability with Zoom, Microsoft and Google, the company said. Also to alleviate users switching between apps when in Webex meetings and messaging, more than 60 partner integrations are coming to Webex.

Last but not the least, the company is offering greater visibility into the collaboration experience, through its partnership between Cisco Meraki Insight and ThousandEyes to help IT teams benefit from AI-powered root cause analysis to help determine the location of issues. With digital experience monitoring leveraging new ThousandEyes Webex Agents, IT teams get unprecedented visibility to quickly identify, diagnose and resolve performance issues.

Gartner has predicted that a hybrid workforce is the future of the work and by 2022, two-thirds of all workers worldwide will be working in a hybrid mode, which will bring new innovation in devices, collaboration and connectivity.

Cisco’s flurry of new releases, updates, features is a clear indication that while Cisco did lose the initial work-from-home war, it is now bullish to win over the hybrid workplace battle, outshining its rivals in almost all areas of collaboration.

 

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