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Reinventing Conferencing

- October 6, 2014 - 17 Comments

What kind of a world will you live in three years from now? How about five? Will your personal robot pour you a drink after your self-driving car delivers you home? That’s where we’re headed, and it’s a pretty quick trip: self-driving cars are already on public roads and you’ll soon be able to buy that humanoid robot.

Cisco’s Collaboration team thinks a lot about the future—not just about how we’ll get around and get our drinks, but about how we’ll connect and collaborate. We’re passionate about the future of collaboration, about giving the world collaboration tools that are every bit as smart as those self-driving cars and whiskey-pouring robots.

Where we’re at: today’s challenges
Before we talk more about the future, let’s talk about where the industry is right now. Over the years, various vendors have given us audio conferencing, web conferencing, and video conferencing. Each of these technologies were introduced at different times, and have matured at different paces—with audio being the tried-and-true veteran, video conferencing the relative newcomer and web being the thing that came somewhere in-between.

Herein lies the problem: these technologies have remained largely siloed, requiring meeting organizers to pick and choose which to use. Sometimes it feels like you need a crystal ball every time you schedule a meeting in order to predict how various people will be able to join. Will Stacy be near a telepresence room, so we can do a video conference? Will we need to add a web conference for Paul who is in his home office?…at that time of day, will the East Coasters already be driving home, meaning we can only do audio?

Enough! None of this picking and choosing between web, video, and audio; all you want is a great meeting—why can’t there be a single, simple, delightful way for everyone to connect, no matter where they are or what technology they are using?

However, our problem has a Part Two. What happens when its time to meet? You must enter passcodes. And host codes. And attendee IDs. You enter a dizzying number of digits before you can even say “hello”. Remember what I said about Cisco thinking a lot about the future? Well, this won’t fly… people may swipe and double-click, but they won’t use collaboration that’s protected behind a string of numbers 14 digits long.

To solve for these problems, today Cisco is announcing the availability of the new WebEx—web, video and audio conferencing all in one, with a gorgeous new user interface. Plus, with the new Cisco Collaboration Meeting Rooms service in the cloud, users get their own “Personal Room”— one persistent meeting location that is just yours. It’s simple to remember and has the same easy one-touch join regardless of device or flavor of conferencing you use. No need to search for the magic numbers for each individual meeting; your personal room details are constant and you can even “lock” the room so only invited participants can join.

It’s just like your physical office, only it’s virtual and it’s in the cloud. The new Webex with Personal Rooms isn’t video conferencing. It isn’t web conferencing. It isn’t audio conferencing. It’s just amazingly simple, highly mobile, conferencing. It is all the technology you need in one place, so you can get on with making your meetings productive. We’re excited about the implications of this technology—both for our customers and also for our partners.

It’s all about bringing a more human element to meetings but with the attention to detail that Cisco is known for. What do you think about the new WebEx? What do you think about merging all three conferencing categories into one? Let me know on Twitter: @rowantrollope.

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17 Comments

  1. Didnt the old Webex provide all 3 , voice, video and web conferencing in the one place? Admittedly video was the poor cousin. The highlight of new Webex is its more accessible and hopefylly easier to use

    • no, the new Webex includes video bridge which allows for us to connect standards based video systems ( CISCO, polycom, etc)

  2. Hence, my poor cousin comment, webex enabled Telepresence address the video piece to some degree but great to see a more accessible Webex. Can you advise timeframes for general availability and specifically for Australia & New Zealand

    • Hey Garvan, as of end Sept we can do 30 Day evaluations. In Australia availability is via Telstra initially, come January 2014 we make broader Asia Pac & Japan availability.

  3. is it going to be a cloud managed service or on-premise? Do we need VC infrastructure like VCS and MCU to have multiple video participants.

    • It is a full cloud deployment, if you have existing WebEx service you can add the CMR option on top of your existing SaaS. It requires some video endpoints, call-processing and edge solution to be deployed on-prem, rest of the mixing hardware is provided by the cloud service. No need to buy and deploy MCU.

  4. its more than just simple UI for conferencing - that's just the table stakes. enabling real innovation requires leveraging persistent data storage/analytics and collaboration streams in context, and that's on the roadmap, too - right?

  5. "Herein lies the problem: these technologies have remained largely siloed, requiring meeting organizers to pick and choose which to use." Not true: uberconference, hangouts (chromebox), highfive, bluejeans, skype, hipchat etc. are hugely popular among businesses. . Businesses have long stopped investing in expensive video conferencing solutions a.k.a Polycom, Tandem, Cisco or HP Telepresence. Webex has lagged primarily due to innovator's dilemma: Cisco's fear of cannibalizing their core video conferencing solution - Telepresence (not to mention the whole channel conflict). Truth hurts but software is eating the world.

  6. Thanks for the follow up Peter, much appreciated

  7. The UCC technology evangelists among us say amen!

  8. Its amazing to see that all the popular modes of communication over internet are being merged into one seamless communication, without the overhead of heavy pre-configuration. This will be definitely a game changer as a lot of time can be saved while delivering secure and seamless communication using cloud-based services! Way to go.

  9. Are there any plans to include this in an HCS license? On premise CUWL Pro equivalent or similar?

    • A one year cloud subscription for the WebEx Meeting Center Service is included in CUWL Pro. WebEx Meeting Center is also available with HCS through "WebEx + HCS Better Together" partners. The Collaboration Meeting Room capabilities can be added on to any existing WebEx Meeting Center service plan regardless of how it was originally purchased.

  10. it is brilliant to merge everything and actually understand the user experience and do something about it ! One thing that I imagine eventually will come out of this is that we will all work from home ( I do this now and enjoy the usage of a EX90)....so how do we secure the room for coffee chat and enjoying gossip over lunch ? If we can figure this out and make it public available then we can create the new video facebook/google+ or so ..- I think :-)

  11. Thank you

  12. is it going to be a cloud managed service or on-premise? Do we need VC infrastructure like VCS and MCU to have multiple video participants. .

  13. So many webex meetings an dtrainings are not possible to access via mobile devices. Saying that meetings can only be accessed via a PC. We really need to get all types of webex meetings available via all kind of platforms.

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