Cisco is seeking to help businesses improve and personalise the hybrid work experience for staff and customers, as collaboration becomes an increasingly vital workplace component in the post Covid-19 world.

To this end, the networking giant has unveiled new hybrid work solutions in its Webex solution. The firm also revealed that Webex Calling hit a record 6 million users – growing from 4 million users in 6 months – as organisations seek improved cloud calling options for their dispersed workforces.

All of this comes amid fundamentally changes in many corporate workplaces during the Coronavirus pandemic, where remote or flexible working has forced organisations to explore hybrid workplace solutions including video conferencing and collaboration products.

Webex additions

Cisco it should be remembered purchased Webex (which had started back in 1995) for $2.9 billion (£2.18bn) in 2007 as the company looked to expand beyond its traditional networking roots.

At the time of the 2007 acquisition, some analysts had questioned whether Webex was the right move for Cisco.

However collaboration rapidly became a key pillar of Cisco’s overall business, but that did not stop online meeting space firm SalesCrunch from making a very cheeky $1 billion bid for Cisco’s Webex business all the way back in 2012.

Now a decade later and Webex remains a core part of Cisco’s business, and the firm has introduced a number of new Webex features centred around four central themes. These are:

  • flexible workstyles,
  • reimagined workspaces,
  • exceptional hybrid events and
  • memorable customer experiences.

Alongside these changes, Webex’s Embedded App Framework will be extended to Webex devices, mobile phones, and tablets, to extend the reach of the platform outside the traditional workplace.

“We’re amid one of the biggest shifts of how we work 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 at 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,” said Patel.

Flexible Workstyles

So, in order to help businesses communicate securely and keep staff productive and engaged, Cisco is delivering new features and options.

The first change centres around flexible workstyles.

Cisco has recognised that people and staff have differing collaboration needs, devices, and meeting platforms, reinforcing the need for flexibility, interoperability, and inclusivity.

To this end, new capabilities have been added to Vidcast, Webex’s asynchronous video messaging solution. This will help drive stronger engagement and productivity for remote workers.

Meanwhile within Webex’s Embedded Apps Framework, customers can access more of their favourite apps, including InVision for visual whiteboarding.

And there are new Webex integrations with Notion’s all-in one project management, notes and wiki solution.

Reimagined workspace

The second set of changes concern the reimagined workspace: where hybrid work requires organisations to transform traditional workspaces.

To help achieve this Cisco has partnered with Ford, so as to extend Webex Meetings to vehicles, that are serving as a mobile office.

Another change has been to enhance the in-office experience, extending the Embedded Apps from the Webex desktop app to include Webex Desk and Webex Board Series devices, as well as phones and tablets – all of which eliminates the need to toggle between different apps.

In addition, Webex devices now support interoperability with Zoom, Microsoft, and Google, “offering frictionless communication regardless of device or platform.”

And finally Webex Go will be generally available on 31 March, which will allow 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.

Hybrid events

The third key change Cisco is delivering concerns exceptional hybrid events: this is where attendees require flexibility to tune-in in-person and/or online with a seamless event experience.

In order to help achieve this, event planners can now manage health protocols simply and effectively. This is because Webex Events (formerly Socio) is partnering with CLEAR to provide proof of vaccine or test results linked to an attendee’s verified identity.

In addition Webex Events is furthering accessibility and inclusivity by adding real-time captions and translation, supporting transcription from English to 34 languages (more to come).

And finally Webex Events compliance standards (SOC 2 Type II, ISO 27001, and SOC 3) and integration within Webex Control Hub delivers greater admin visibly and simplified management for enterprises’ hybrid work and event environments.

Customer experiences

And the fourth and final change centres around the ability to create memorable customer experiences: enterprises require the ability to stay connected and deliver proactive connections with customers on their preferred communication channels.

To this end, with enterprise communications platform as a service (CPaaS) Webex Connect, businesses can intelligently orchestrate those connections end-to-end to deliver seamless personalised experiences across digital channels.

Webex Connect is now also integrated with Webex Contact Center to power new channels including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and SMS.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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