Michelle Burbick
Michelle Burbick is the Associate Editor and a blogger for No Jitter, UBM Tech's online community for news and analysis...
Read Full Bio >>

Michelle Burbick | June 19, 2018 |


Getting Collaboration On at Cisco Live

Getting Collaboration On at Cisco Live A look at four collaboration-focused companies discovered at Cisco Live

A look at four collaboration-focused companies discovered at Cisco Live

To get my UC&C fix at last week's Cisco Live customer and partner event, which primarily focused on networking and security, I headed to the "Collaboration Village" on the expo floor. There I caught up with the following four (new to me) companies. Read on for a snapshot of each company and how it differentiates itself.

Founded in 2014, Embrava is a relative newcomer to collaboration. It launched with the mission to solve productivity challenges in the modern workplace -- i.e., open-plan, agile, dynamic environments that have adopted concepts like hot desking and activity-based working. While open-office plans can bring benefits in terms of collaboration, they typically come with frequent interruptions and challenges around finding a quiet space or who's working where. That's where Embrava's sweet spot is.

Embrava bills itself as an office productivity company, offering products like its Blynclight intelligent presence endpoints. These devices plug into a user's desktop or laptop to extend provide presence indicators to the physical office environment, showing red when you're busy and green when you're not. Today, Embrava integrates with Microsoft Skype for Business and Cisco Jabber presence systems.

At Cisco Live, the company showcased Embrava Flow, technology co-developed with the University of Zurich and ABB Corporate Research that adds machine learning intelligence to the Blynclight endpoints. After observing and learning from a user's work habits – typing patterns and mouse use -- Embrava Flow will automatically turn the light to red when it recognizes patterns that indicate he or she is at a productivity peak. And being integrated with the UC platform, Embrava Flow also dynamically changes the user's digital status.


Altogether, Embrava wants to "foster flow at work," the team told me. Embrava primarily serves medium- to large-sized enterprises, and said it is also seeing success in contact center deployments where larger displays, integrated with the same presence lighting technology, can serve as agent name displays and even provide snapshots of the contact center organization. An organization can customize the lighting so that, for example, the color purple indicates that a call requires a manager on the line. Besides the endpoints, Embrava offers the Lumena headset line, with built-in light presence technology.
Founded in 2015, startup focuses on making enterprise messaging apps like Cisco Webex Teams, Slack, and Microsoft Teams interoperable. While the team collaboration app market will surely consolidate over time, today's proliferation has given rise to the use of multiple disparate tools within an organization, CEO Tom Hadfield told me during a booth visit. In fact, slightly more than 60% of enterprise IT respondents to our 2018 Team Collaboration Survey indicated their organizations have at least three different team collaboration apps in use (page through the rest of our findings here).

This is where comes into play. As this brief demo shows, integrates disparate team collaboration apps so that users can stay in their app of choice, say Webex Teams, but find, chat with, and send files to colleagues in, say, Slack. Not only does this work to eliminate silos and improve organizational transparency, but integrating Slack and Webex Teams, for example, can reduce shadow IT, lead to faster decision making, and allow employees to use their team collab app of choice without compromising on the goal to have unified real-time chat.

The admin dashboard provides IT managers a centralized view of the user environment, and allows them to manage everything from permissions to data-loss protection and guest access for the chat services.

While new to me, this 30-year-old company has long offered software for customer engagement and case management, as I learned in talking with account executive Gina May at the company's pod at Cisco Live. If you're like me and haven't heard of Pega either, that may be because it lets its clients brand their case management software as their own. Just a quick look at the below picture will give you an idea of some of the big-name companies using Pega technology.


The Pega Customer Service enterprise customer service application is part of Pega's CRM Evolved suite, consisting of a contact center desktop, case management for customer service, chat, knowledge management, mobile field service, omnichannel self-service, and industry-specific processes and data models.

At Cisco Live, Pega showcased its partnership with Cisco around integration of its Pega Customer Service application with Webex Teams and Tropo. With Pega Customer Service enabled by Cisco Webex Teams and Tropo, organizations can leverage the team collaboration functionality from within the Pega platform, eliminating the need to replace their existing communication systems, May told me.

A customer service rep could open a Cisco Webex Teams room from within the Pega Case Manager and enable all relevant parties to collaborate about -- and even with -- a customer. Using video calling from Webex Teams, they could walk a customer through an issue by seeing what the customer is seeing. With access to Tropo configuration components, business and IT can set things like language for voice recognition and gender of an IVR voice, for example.

Stack8, founded roughly eight years ago, bills itself as a full-service enterprise collaboration partner of Cisco, focused on leveraging automation, integration, and consulting services for simplified provisioning around Cisco Webex Meetings and Webex Teams. For example, Stack8 will assess enterprise requirements, set up and test the system, and help manage it for maximum efficiency.

At Cisco Live, Stack8 showcased its Intelligent Booking System for reserving meeting rooms, which is part of the company's Meeting Solutions portfolio and uses Cisco's Webex Teams, Proximity, Exchange, and Graph. As Stack8 CTO Eric Losier showed me in a demo, enterprises can automate the room booking process in Webex Teams via the company's virtual assistant bot, called Octo.

For example, via an integration with Cisco video endpoints, Octo is able to tell users if a room is free for a meeting. Further, if that room was reserved for an hour but the meeting only goes 30 minutes, Octo can pick up on that unused space and prompt the user to release the room reservation for others to use. Even further, for example, an executive could ask Octo to have fresh coffee delivered to a meeting room, in which case Octo will make a call to an assistant and relay the message.

Stack8's flagship product, called SMACS -- short for Stack8 Moves, Adds, and Changes System -- is centered on speeding up to the migration to Cisco UC systems by enabling non-technical staff to handle user provisioning. Octo can come into play here, too, to offload the heavy-lifting of user provisioning from staff.

Related content:

Follow Michelle Burbick and No Jitter on Twitter!


October 24, 2018

With disparate workplaces and ever-expanding volumes of information to manage, the challenges for collaborating effectively are only intensifying. Many critical applications are not integrated, and

October 10, 2018

Businesses are growing across international borders quicker than ever, but scaling operations to follow suit can be a harder, longer process.

This webinar focuses on scaling your next-generat

September 26, 2018

Join Kevin Kieller, Microsoft UC&C expert, along with Ribbon Communications and Polycom, for an update on Microsoft Ignite, and a focus on critical things you need to know about your voice deployme

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.