Cisco has unveiled no less than 50 new features for its Webex videoconferencing tool, as it attempts to compete with the global popularity of Zoom.
Ironically, Zoom was founded by a former Cisco engineer who was looking for a simpler way to videoconference. During the Covid-19 pandemic, that simplicity turned Zoom into a household name, and propelled its market cap to $117-billion. Cisco is worth $187-billion but languishes well below its highs of 2019.
During the WebexOne digital collaboration conference this week, Cisco announced a wave of Webex innovations designed to help organisations “collaborate seamlessly and transform their employee and customer experiences”.
Webex use, too, has rocketed during the pandemic. It says it has helped businesses thrive, and “has also been an integral platform for governments to continue to lead remotely, doctors to meet with patients safely, and educators to teach students at a distance”.
The announcement of the latest innovations come as companies across the world are preparing for a hybrid future of work – where employees move between office-based and remote working with greater frequency – in a post-pandemic world. Cisco has set out a clear vision of how technology can help customers realise that future.
The innovations announced on Tuesday, as supplied by Cisco, include:
A newly designed Webex
The newly designed Webex provides a single secure place for connecting and getting things done: call, meet and message in one app. More than 50 new features fall into three areas: seamless collaboration, smart hybrid work experiences, and intelligent customer experiences. New features available today include:
- noise cancellation and speech enhancement
- transcriptions and closed captioning
- highlights and action items
- enhanced video layouts and Webex Huddle (spontaneous meetings with a single click)
- a number of AI-powered features in messaging and new calling features help you focus on what matters most.
- New analytics features deliver highly personalized insights and actionable recommendations to individuals, teams, and organisations.
Cisco also announced real-time translations in nine different languages, in-meeting gestures powered by body movement recognition, and immersive sharing capabilities. These features will be available in the coming months. For more information:
New Webex Devices
A range of new devices, which together with the rest of Cisco’s intelligent portfolio, will provide seamless, smart experiences whether you’re at home or office. These include:
Webex Desk Camera
Packed with intelligent features like facial recognition and occupancy metrics, the Webex Desk Camera is perfect for both the home or office. You can now mute and unmute your microphone with a simple gesture – an industry first that no other USB camera can do.
Preview – Webex Desk Hub
With many organisations rethinking and reconfiguring their office space, getting back to the office may mean more hotdesking for employees. With the new Webex Desk Hub, it’s super simple to make any available desk your personal space. This new category of device is powerful enough to provide amazing quality video meetings and phone calls but also allows you to connect all the things you’ve come to rely on for productivity and collaboration such as your own camera, headset, display, laptop and mobile. It is wrapped with intelligence to provide a consistent experience that enables you to get stuff done. In addition, Webex Desk Hub lets you reserve a desk using your laptop, badge or cell phone to authenticate your identity. This is not a basic device for hotdesking as you know it; the Webex Desk Hub is truly built for a new way of working.
Preview – Webex Desk
Just like it’s “big sister” the Webex Desk Pro, the Webex Desk allows you to engage your audience by using slides or videos as your backdrop while you present—a feature we call “immersive presenter”. It transforms your experience by enabling you to connect to meetings, co-create and stay productive whether you’re at home or in the office. It is competitively priced for an all-in-one device with intelligent features users want like noise cancellation, virtual backgrounds and facial recognition. Use it as your primary display and connect to any meetings service. With a high-quality camera, microphone and speakers, it is super simple to set up, with no IT or technical knowledge required. You can be up and running in minutes. For more information, visit https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/collaboration-endpoints/webex-desk-pro/index.html
Webex App Hub and Ecosystem
The App Hub will make it easy for users to find and use integrations within a Webex messaging space, and soon they will be able to experience the same thing in a Webex meeting. Users will be able to easily add and collaborate with third-party applications while in a Webex meeting, then save the work to follow up afterwards. It also is great for IT managers who are looking to make native integrations company-wide. Available today, the new Webex App Hub includes prebuilt integrations with Box, Dropbox, Salesforce, ServiceNow, MIRO, Mural, Workplace for Facebook. For more information, visit https://blogs.cisco.com/collaboration/webex-app-hub-the-premier-collaboration-app-ecosystem-to-help-you-get-stuff-done
New in Contact Center: Drive Intelligent Customer Experiences
The new Webex Contact Center delivers powerful new benefits for businesses, customers, and agents. Now businesses of all sizes (even with the smallest of contact centres) can have the robustness of a cloud contact centre with thousands of agents on day one.
Jeetu Patel, SVP and GM, Security & Applications, Cisco, said: “Cisco’s purpose is to power an Inclusive Future, and collaboration technology plays a critical role in levelling the playing field so everyone is able to participate in the global economy regardless of geography, language and personality type. This is why we are driven to deliver a Webex experience that is 10x better than in-person—and at the same time make in-person interactions 10x better too. Webex enables a shift towards hybrid working and less reliance on geography-based hiring, opening the global economy and giving everyone a seat at the table—no matter where the table is. Our team is passionate about delivering this vision which fuels every device we build, every line of code we write, and every feature we create.”