While video conferencing and communication technologies have been available for more than a decade, it required a global pandemic to transform them from a “good to have” to a “absolutely must have” throughout the enterprise.
With its famous Webex website, Cisco Systems was one of the vendors that stuck out as a pioneer in the meeting room. Initially, the engineering behemoth was based on bringing Webex into the hands of more corporate clients in order to assist these companies in staying operational. As the year advanced, the focus shifted to securing safe meetings and introducing innovative features to assist remote employees in becoming active. In the last six months, the Cisco Webex team has introduced over 400 fresh or updated products.
The long hours spent building the video conferencing platform are beginning to pay off. Cisco Webex already has over 600 million daily users worldwide and connects 6 billion calls every month, according to CRN USA.
Webex’s emphasis, on the other hand, has changed somewhat. The future of jobs would be a mixed paradigm, with certain individuals working from home and others from the workplace. As a consequence, the Webex team is developing features that can keep workers comfortable and secure at work while still keeping them involved and linked at home.
Here are a few of the new Cisco Webex features that solution providers should be aware of, ranging from improved user experience to AI-powered noise cancellation and real-time translation in more than 100 languages.
Insights into People
People Insights, a function of Webex, was first launched in 2019. Cisco said at Cisco Live 2021 that it was extended in March to improve and encourage employee well-being and enable users develop closer relationships with their coworkers.
Personal Insights is a new feature of People Insights that allows consumers to see everyday patterns and experiences so they can properly tailor their relationship with colleagues and prioritise their time. Personal Insights will inform users how often they accept meetings but never show up, as well as how much they multi-task at meetings.
The next element is Team Insights, which provides each team manager with a private understanding of trends in relationships, collaboration activities, and work-life coordination with the whole team. For example, Team Insights will reveal the number of meetings that occur outside of their team’s preferred working hours.
Finally, Organizational Insights gives users a bird’s-eye view of the company’s teamwork dynamics and patterns, allowing them to see silos or departments that may profit from further funding or a greater emphasis on inclusivity, according to the company.
Starting this summer, Cisco said, select Webex customers will have access to the extended People Insights functionality.
image Conversion in real time
Cisco increased its language collection from ten to 108 languages in March. Users may choose from popular languages like Arabic, Dutch, French, German, Japanese, Mandarin, and Spanish, as well as more regional languages like Danish, Hindi, Malay, Turkish, and Vietnamese, according to the organization.
Translations from English are currently supported by the machine-learning-based real-time translation function. The Webex team will carry out non-English translation capabilities later this year, according to the group.
The real-time translation function is built on technologies acquired by Cisco from Voicea, an AI-based meeting and voice specialist that joined Cisco in 2019. This functionality, according to Cisco, would enable companies to hire the best people regardless of their native language. Users may also collaborate with business associates or end customers more quickly.
The most recent translation functionality is now available as a demo in Webex and will be available to all users in May.
Cancellation of noise
Cisco has integrated noise reduction technologies into Webex as a result of its BabbleLabs acquisition, which was completed on October 1st. In the context of a video conference, users will now blur out a stray boy, cat, or even a lawn mower.
Meetings no longer have to be interrupted by unwelcome background noise, according to Jeetu Patel, Cisco’s senior vice president and general manager, protection and software Group. Webex will segment out, record, and amplify the speakers’ voice in every language, and discern human speech from unnecessary noise, thanks to artificial intelligence (AI).
The aim of the noise cancellation function, according to Patel, is to eliminate the need for people to ask their fellow meeting participants, “Can you mute yourself?”
Improved user experience on Cisco Webex
In October, Cisco revamped the Webex app to allow consumers greater power about functionality and how they choose to display information, displays, and speakers. Users may also mouse over themselves to quickly adjust their audio settings, as well as pin individual speakers or guests during meetings to have the attendee’s reaction front and center. Attendees who aren’t joining as video members will even be hidden.
Cisco has upgraded the overview pane, which allows delegates to see themselves on camera in a wider format before attending the meeting and making whatever context improvements they choose, such as using a visual background or blurring their surroundings.
The recently launched Webex Huddle function, which is not to be confused with Webex Huddle Space hardware solutions, allows workers to collaborate without having to schedule or place it on the calendar. According to Cisco, it’s a one-click option that helps workers to launch a call or video meeting with other Webex users as soon as they need it.
In-meeting movements, which use AI to sense hand gestures from meeting participants such as thumbs up, thumbs down, and clapping and show them as a response in a user’s video window, will be available shortly. During a video call, meeting participants would be able to react with emojis such as happy, laughing, surprised, and partying.
Speakers would be able to see reviews in real time when giving a presentation, according to Cisco. Users must toggle the gesture function in Webex until it is enabled.
Cisco unveiled a wave of Webex innovation today at WebexOne to help businesses interact effortlessly and improve their employee and customer experiences. WebexOne is Cisco’s flagship digital collaboration conference, taking place today and tomorrow and bringing together thought leaders, customers, and partners to explore the future of work.
Webex has a long history of assisting workers to create and stay productive no matter where they are. Since the pandemic, Webex has not only continued to help companies flourish, but it has also served as an essential platform for governments to continue to lead remotely, physicians to securely meet with patients, and educators to educate students remotely. The future of work, termed as hybrid-work, will undoubtedly include a mix of remote and on-site encounters. Cisco has a clear vision for how technology can assist clients in realizing that future now and creating a more inclusive society for everyone.
“Cisco’s mission is to fuel an Inclusive Future, and collaborative technology plays a vital role in leveling the playing field so that everyone, regardless of location, language, or personality type, may participate in the global economy. This is why we are determined to offer a Webex experience that is 10 times better than in-person—while also making in-person interactions 10 times better,” said Jeetu Patel, SVP and GM, Security & Applications, Cisco.
“Webex allows a move toward hybrid working and less dependence on geography-based employment, thus opening up the global economy and allowing everyone a place at the table—regardless of where the table is. Our team is deeply committed to delivering on this goal, which drives every device we manufacture, every piece of code we write, and every feature we develop.”
More than 50 innovations were unveiled today, divided into three categories: seamless collaboration, smart hybrid work experiences, and intelligent customer experiences, all based on Cisco’s rock-solid security and privacy.
Webex Has Arrived!
- The Webex team is dead set on ensuring that users have everything they need to perform outstanding work. The all-new Webex, which is now available, offers a single safe location for connecting and getting things done: phone, meet, and communicate all in one app. New features are being introduced across all modes, and the app incorporates our one-of-a-kind, real-time presence capabilities, so you always know who is accessible.
Meetings are new.
Here are a few of our favorites among the many new capabilities being introduced to Webex:
- Noise cancellation and voice enhancement: No more noisy typing or rustling papers interfering with your concentration. Webex identifies and suppresses frequent sounds, allowing you to focus.
- Closed captions and transcriptions eliminate the need for lengthy note-taking. Transcripts are searchable, allowing team members who miss a meeting to catch up fast.
- Webex Assistant will generate highlights and action items based on your vocal commands.
- Improved video layouts: Who would you want to see? A simple slider control allows you to alter the arrangement of your movie.
- Webex Meeting: With a single click, you may quickly summon select team members to an impromptu meeting. There’s no need to schedule anything—just a single click and you’re in a fast team huddle to get things done.
Soon to come
- In-meeting gestures: Did you like the presentation? Simply offer a “thumbs up” with your hand, and our AI will convert your gesture into a thumbs up on the screen for everyone to see. This is an industry first, and it will be available in fiscal year 2021.
- Immersive collaboration: For a more immersive experience, share your presentation, movie, or application as a dynamic backdrop with your video overlayed. Coming in fiscal year 2021.
- Translation in real time: As of February, you will be able to participate in your native language and get localized, real-time transcription of the current speaker, which will be accessible in more than ten languages. Each meeting participant may choose their preferred language without affecting other users. English, Spanish, French, German, Mandarin, Portuguese, Arabic, Russian, Dutch, and Japanese are among the languages supported.
- Save and distribute meeting mementos: Meeting artifacts and recordings are stored immediately in your Webex app. View recordings in your Webex task bar or the content area of 1:1 and group rooms.
- Extremely large gatherings: Do you need to conduct a Webex Events session with up to 25,000 completely engaged attendees? You’ll be able to do it shortly. You’ll be able to host even more—up to 100,000—with the new Webex Events native live streaming feature, which will be available later this month.
- Templates for meetings: With circular table templates and other tools, you can give everyone a chance to speak. With fast syncs, you may restrict the length of your meetings.
In communications, something new has emerged.
- We’ve introduced some fantastic new tools to help you concentrate on what’s most important.No more searching for critical projects and people: Webex is the only messaging app that learns which projects, spaces, and people are most essential to you and moves them to the top of your list using our industry-leading AI. Available in the first quarter of fiscal year 2021.
- There will be no more missed messages: With the new Webex message pinning, you may manually flag critical messages and tasks and label them as “unread.” Available in the first quarter of fiscal year 2021.
- There will be no more missed meetings: Webex will begin automatically sharing recordings to 1:1 and group spaces you choose in February.
Calling is new to me.
- Calling Webex with IVR and video on hold: Video menus make call routing easier, and video on hold engages consumers in new ways.
- A phone conversation may be easily escalated to a Webex meeting: Transform a 1:1 phone conversation into a Webex video conference to receive the complete Webex experience, including AI features, transcriptions, notes and action items, and recordings.
- New purchasing options: Customers may now take advantage of new calling plans with PSTN that have been provided directly by Cisco. This will be accessible in the United States in mid-December, Canada in the first quarter of 2021, and in many other nations across the world throughout the year.
Daily interactions constitute the fabric of successful cooperation, according to new analytics research. We launched People Insights profiles last year. People Insights is being expanded with a new set of capabilities. These new capabilities, powered by the Webex Graph, provide highly customized insights and actionable suggestions to people and teams.
Individuals may use People Insights to see patterns that go beyond their Outlook calendar, such as when their days start and finish, how much time they spend on video conversations, and so on.
Within Webex, you can view aggregate team interaction patterns to verify your team is developing and sustaining the necessary communication patterns and connections to be successful. The tool may also be used to guide strategy in order to increase team inclusion.
Webex’s All-New Contact Center
To drive smarter customer interactions, the new Webex Contact Center provides significant new advantages for companies, consumers, and agents:
- Businesses of all sizes (even those with the tiniest contact centers) may now benefit from the scalability of a cloud contact center with thousands of agents from day one.
- A next-generation microservices design allows for fast feature creation, while open APIs enable simple customization.
- Customers benefit from a digital-first experience and can now interact in the manner that suits them best – whether via chat, email, phone, and now text and social.
- New AI-powered speech and chat bots can answer simple queries while routing more difficult ones to contact center operators, with all relevant background information offered up so consumers don’t have to repeat themselves.
- Now that Webex Experience Management is linked with Webex Contact Center, agents will no longer be caught off guard by consumer mood.
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The difficulties of mixed work cannot be addressed only via technological means. One of the lessons of the previous 15 months was that remote work had an impact on people. For example, a lack of personal connection, as well as worry and weariness from continuous meetings.
As people return to the workplace, Cisco is launching a flurry of new initiatives to address the human problems of hybrid work. In fact, the business sees the change as a chance to redefine the future of work, driven by its conscious culture. In addition to Webex advancements, Cisco’s strategy here relies on its device, smart building, and software initiatives.
One example is how Cisco’s wireless access points, Meraki security cameras, and DNA Spaces (Cisco’s location and IoT platform) collaborate with digital signage to make employees feel safer at work.
These technologies, when combined, may inform individuals about the real-time occupancy of meeting rooms, give notifications when occupancy levels are reached, assist in the discovery of open meeting rooms, and much more. When you go into a room, Webex may immediately wake up and start a meeting.
AI-powered gadgets such as WebEx Desk Pro and WebEx Desk Camera may assist frontline workers working from home minimize meeting fatigue. Furthermore, People Insights for Webex is a strong feature that assists workers in managing their time, improving their well-being, integrating work and life, collaborating more inclusively, and being more productive.
Cisco’s argument that effective hybrid solutions must satisfy these five requirements is persuasive, but the evidence will be in the pudding. Patel advises businesses to take a step back and evaluate their requirements in this new age.
“Hybrid work will be more difficult to adapt to than everyone working in the office or from home, since there are nuances,” he adds. “We’ll all have to change our ways.