Cisco Takes Collaboration to Next Level



CISCO PARTNER SUMMIT — Last year, Cisco worked to get its collaboration strategy back on track and did, with new team leadership and new integrations and products. Since then, Cisco’s collaboration team has charged full speed ahead and today announced five major innovations to its collaboration portfolio.

And if there are any doubts about the company’s commitment to collaboration, the vendor quelled that with the recent acquisition of Voicea, the AI-powered voice collaboration vendor. At the time, Cisco said that the Voicea technology would enhance its Webex portfolio with a transcription service that blends AI and automated speech recognition (ASR). The deal, which closed in September, aligns with Cisco’s vision of cognitive collaboration, interoperability and workplace transformation.

Cisco's Amy Chang

Cisco’s Amy Chang

“This is going to be a big year for all of us. This is the year that we together can make the magic happen,” Amy Chang, executive vice president, general manager, Cisco Collaboration, told attendees during a session on Wednesday. “The foundation is ready with unified platform across calling, messaging and meetings; distinctive hardware that’s ready to sell via Flex as hardware as a service; and there’s never been a better time to sell that stickiest of all software, contact center. Given the strength of your relationships with customers, there has never been a better time to provide them with a unified solution made distinctive by your customizations.”

For partners, that means more growth and more revenue across products and services.

The five enhancements announced today include: a single platform for all workloads and a unified modular app; cloud calling enhancements; two new devices that bring AI and whiteboarding to small and large spaces; a new Bluetooth headset; and an as-a-service offering for phones, desk and room-sized video systems.

Single Platform Advantage is about Cisco delivering all workloads (calling, messaging, meeting, devices and contact center) in an integrated fashion from a single platform, offering users consistency and IT better admin control and security from a single pane of glass.

The Single Platform Advantage includes: edge and hybrid service; cognitive collaboration; enterprise-class security and compliance; and analytics and central management via Cisco Webex Control Hub.

There’s also a new unified modular application that includes several new ways Cisco has unified its call, message and meeting tools. For instance, when you join a meeting from Webex Teams, you’ll now have the same host controls as you’d have from Webex itself. And you’ll also be able to see and take part in the chat. Cisco also unified the way you see presence — whether your co-workers are busy or free.

The new tools are offered in a modular manner in one application, but can be configured it to align to each group’s needs or workstyles.

“In the past we had discrete Webex calling, meetings, messaging and there was little overlap. They were siloed products,” Sri Srinivasan, senior vice president, general manager Webex Meeting, teams, calling and devices at Cisco, told attendees. “Not anymore. Now we’ve integrated all of these beautiful capabilities and technologies to one unified platform and one app for all 300 million Webex customers.”

And for the 100 million Webex meeting users, 50 million Jabber users and 23 million Broadsoft users, all leverage the same Cisco collaboration platform. Cisco’s Unified Webex client also integrates fully with Microsoft, Google, Apple and other SaaS applications users live in every day, Srinivasan said.

The new unified application can be white-labeled by partners, and they can use the APIs and Cisco Collaboration can be embedded into the customer’s business processes.

Partners also learned that Microsoft Teams Rooms soon will …

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