Webex claims ‘breakthrough’ advances for hybrid work with innovations, partnerships

Collaboration tech provider announces major updates to the Webex Suite with new collaboration device and new partnerships to expand its footprint

To address the needs of the third workspace where hybrid working is the new standard, Cisco has announced major updates to its Webex Suite of collaboration services, including a new device, and has forged new partnerships to expand its collaboration footprint, in particular with Microsoft.

Hybrid work is both different and harder than how we worked before,” said Jeetu Patel, EVP and GM, Cisco Security and Collaboration. “Regardless of job function – frontline worker, knowledge worker, IT admin or contact centre agent – people expect and deserve an amazing experience no matter where or how they work. This requires a holistic solution [based on an] integrated platform across collaboration software, devices, networking and security.”

As it announced the new services, Cisco cited the Frost & Sullivan report State of the global video conferencing devices market from October 2022, which found that although 98% of meetings will have remote video attendees, only 11% of meeting rooms are video-enabled. This means that both home offices and office spaces require video devices to help people collaborate and feel their best, said Cisco.

It also stressed that with a 2022 survey of its customers finding that 85% use more than one meeting platform, it is critical that video devices provide seamless interoperability with the platforms used by colleagues and customers.

Looking at hybrid from basic principles, Cisco has launched a repeatable hybrid workspace design guide, based on its NYC office deployment, to help customers design next-generation hybrid workspaces. It encompasses elements including Cisco’s Smart Building Solutions, collaboration, networking and security technology.

Cisco said its approach is designed to connect the intersection of people, space and technology. It supports triple screens, offers embedded camera and audio intelligence, including automatic noise cancelation, and the option to support bring your own device (BYOD) collaboration, enabling customers to unlock the true potential of hybrid work, said Cisco. 

At the head of the new offerings is a collaboration device, the Cisco Room Kit EQ, a device for large workspaces. Powered by the Cisco Codec EQ, an artificial intelligence (AI)-based computing appliance, the Room Kit EQ is designed to enable true-to-life meeting experiences, bringing integration to video-enable and transform large spaces for what is said to be inclusive hybrid work.

Updates also encompass asynchronous video offering Vidcast, and among the new features will be an AI-powered editing capability that reduces the time it takes to create polished content, and Slido integration to incorporate polling and audience engagement into shared video content.

As for partnerships, Cisco is collaborating with Microsoft to enable a Microsoft Teams Rooms experience on Cisco’s collaboration devices and innovation in Webex Calling includes new integration with Teams, enabling users to make enterprise-grade Webex Calls within the Teams interface for a more flexible workflow.

Also, Group Call Management is now available for Webex Calling. This capability is designed to make it easier for businesses to activate informal call centre services to elevate their customer calling experience, measure performance, improve staff training, and deliver results without needing a separate or specialised contact centre application.

Apple, iPhone and iPad users can now share content from the rear-facing or front-facing camera via the Webex Meetings app and annotate over what they are seeing with Mobile Camera Share.

Cisco has also improved its Webex Events and Webinars so that users will have access to a new lobby experience for virtual events that will support a variety of customisations, such as agendas, speaker bio and sponsors. New content widgets allow users to embed any of those elements into external event websites. Integration into Network Device Interface gives event production teams a new tool for professional broadcasts.

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