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Cisco Collaboration: Bringing ‘Human Creativity’ to the Fore
From cloud app integrations to intelligent meeting assistants, collaboration devices, and security, Cisco Collaboration executives used this week’s Enterprise Connect Virtual keynote to share how the company can help enterprises best address the employee communications and collaboration challenges wrought by today’s remote work paradigm.
“Each of you is leading a cultural shift. Webex is now, more than ever, the connective tissue that makes it all happen — from call, meet, message,” said Sri Srinivasan, SVP and GM of Cisco Collaboration, during the keynote. Toward that end, Cisco Collaboration has expanded its free offers to include unlimited meeting time, for example.
As it did elsewhere in our Enterprise Connect Virtual sessions, the idea of a cooperative spirit filtered up in the Cisco keynote. While communications and collaboration vendors have been moving in this direction anyway, via integrations and interoperability, the COVID-19 crisis has served to reinforce the need.
Integration of one provider’s cloud app into another's cloud app creates uninterrupted workstreams and helps facilitate working from anywhere, at any time, as Lorrissa Horton, VP and GM of Cisco Webex Teams, pointed out during the keynote. And yes, she added, this does include Microsoft…interoperability between Webex devices and Microsoft Teams, as well as app integration.
“For far too long, it has been Cisco or Microsoft. Now, it is Cisco and Microsoft. It is about having the best of both worlds and providing you the best experience based on the decisions and choices that you have made,” Horton said. (It’s also about Microsoft and Slack, which used its Enterprise Connect Virtual keynote to give notice of its Microsoft Teams Calls app integration; read related No Jitter post.)
Beyond integration, Cisco used its keynote to showcase how else its technology — apps and devices — can help employees acclimate to working from home.
“Many employees say, ‘We are in too many meetings,’ and on top of those meetings, there's so many things to follow up on, key decisions to remember, and work that needs to go on. In a distributed workforce, that is even harder,” Horton said. Enter Cisco’s voice-activated Webex Assistant, which lets meeting participants create action items, record meetings, take notes, search, control devices, and more… all via voice command.
Cisco’s role in collaboration, of course, isn’t limited to software, as Sandeep Mehra, VP and GM of Webex Rooms and Telepresence, pointed out during the keynote. While its apps are accessible via desktop, laptop, or mobile device, the company’s collaboration device portfolio does happen to be “one of the largest areas of demand” Cisco has seen due to the increase in remote work, Mehra reported.
The DX 80 video collaboration endpoint and Desk Pro desktop collaboration device are available for use within the home as in the office, as are Cisco’s noise-canceling business headsets, Mehra said. Incidentally, he added, Cisco sold out of the latter “in a single week,” and is working to restock as fast as possible.
To help enterprises outfit work-from-home employees at scale, Cisco is offering an “as a service” buying option that turns CapEx into OpEx for collaboration devices, Mehra said. Through this flex plan, for example, the Desk Pro is $149 monthly, he said. Flex spending “lets you modernize your remote worker population a little or a lot, depending on your budget.”
Also being a primary enterprise security provider, Cisco has a story to tell around buttoning up work-from-home collaboration, as well, as Srinivasan reminded folks during the keynote.
Enterprises “should never have to bypass or compromise security and privacy norms for the sake of convenience and simplicity, especially in these unprecedented times,” he said. Sensitive data, such as corporate plans and financial information, need protection no matter whether it’s being worked on from the corporate executive suite or a bedroom-cum-home office. “As collaboration tool and platform providers, we’re totally accountable … for providing seamless experiences to our end users … and needing to ensure that security, privacy, and compliance is fully baked into your virtual working experience from the ground up.”
That’s Cisco Collaboration’s promise, he added.
Additionally, with VPNs stretched to their limits by the influx of remote connectivity from the work-from-home workforce, Cisco is ready to step in with network security solutions, as well, Srinivasan noted. For one, he pointed to Webex Edge, “which allows mission-critical companies to peer directly to the Webex backbone.” Not only does taking traffic off the public Internet improve the end-user experience but gives companies “that secure comfort” so needed today, he added.
Concluding the Cisco Collaboration keynote, Srinivasan left attendees with this thought to chew on: “I truly believe that in the post-COVID world, how we work is forever changed. Technology will continue to innovate and let the human creativity and spirit come to the fore.”