Webex aims to reimagine hybrid work experiences

After one of the biggest shifts of how we work in decades, collaboration technology firm adds functionality innovations to help organisations personalise the hybrid work experience for employees and customers

With today’s world of hybrid work, it is more important than ever to optimise virtual, in-person and hybrid interactions, and businesses of all sizes are grappling with how to deliver a standout work experience, whether an employee is in the office or remote. Now Cisco has unveiled new hybrid work offerings in its Webex collaboration suite to address workers’ needs, wherever they are.

At the launch, Cisco stressed that it was developing technology that empowers companies to put people first amid one of the biggest shifts of working practices in decades. “To attract and retain prized workers, organisations must better align with workers’ desires and values, including how, where and when to work,” said Jeetu Patel, EVP and GM, Cisco Security and Collaboration.

“As we march toward our vision of powering a hybrid work experience that is inclusive and empowering for everyone, our new Webex innovations best position our customers to put their people first.”

Cisco claims that not only does innovation in Webex over the past year help the world’s leading businesses securely keep employees productive and engaged, but also its new features further accelerate this to deliver flexible workstyles, addressing people’s differing collaboration needs, devices and meeting platforms, reinforcing the need for flexibility, interoperability and inclusivity.

At the heart of the new offer is the concept of reimagined workspaces, which means hybrid work requires organisations to transform workspaces to deliver a consistent experience, whether in-office, at home or on the go. Cisco announced what it calls an industry-first partnership with Ford to extend Webex Meetings to vehicles, serving as the mobile office.

To enhance the in-office experience, Webex has extended embedded apps from the desktop app to include Webex Desk and Webex Board Series devices, as well as phones and tablets, eliminating the need to toggle between different apps and maximising collaboration, said the company.

It said users can easily start and use apps such as Miro, Mural, Shared Timer and Slido on their Webex device and share a whiteboard with meeting attendees, for example. Webex devices support interoperability with collaboration services from Zoom, Microsoft and Google, offering what Cisco calls “frictionless communication”, regardless of device or platform.

New capabilities in the company’s Vidcast asynchronous video messaging system are designed to drive stronger engagement and productivity for remote workers. With Vidcast, users can import a demo recorded in Webex, edit and share it as a Vidcast for asynchronous consumption. The technology can also be embedded within a Slido poll for virtual check-ins or training, as well as in Webex Events.

Read more about the new normal of work

The new solutions are also claimed to offer “exceptional” hybrid events, addressing attendees’ requirements of flexibility to tune in in-person and/or online with a seamless event experience. To help event planners manage health protocols simply and effectively, Webex Events is partnering with Clear to provide proof of vaccine or test results linked to an attendee’s verified identity.

The technology is also aimed at increasing accessibility and inclusivity by adding real-time captions and translation, supporting transcription from English to 34 languages, with more to come. Webex Events compliance standards (SOC 2 Type II, ISO 27001, and SOC 3) and integration within Webex Control Hub have been developed to deliver greater admin visibly and simplified management for enterprises’ hybrid work and event environments.

Noting that enterprises require the ability to stay connected and deliver proactive connections with customers on their preferred communication channels, the company said the updated enterprise communications platform as a service (CPaaS) Webex Connect allows businesses to orchestrate intelligently connections on an end-to-end basis and deliver seamless personalised experiences across digital channels. Webex Connect is now also integrated with Webex Contact Centre to power new channels, including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger  and SMS.

Within Webex’s Embedded Apps Framework, customers can access more apps, including InVision for visual whiteboarding. New Webex integrations with Notion’s all-in one project management, notes and wiki solution streamlines customer workflows, and Standout by ADP, an employee engagement system, builds team connections.

Cisco also confirmed that Webex Go will be generally available on 31 March, allowing users to add Webex Calling features as a dedicated business line to a personal mobile phone for high-quality business calls and expanded collaboration features. 

The company also revealed that Webex calling has now hit a record six million users, growing from four million in six months as organisations adopt leading enterprise cloud calling to scale business globally.

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