Improving the Meeting Experience, One Click at a Time
If you read my blog posts, you know there’s one thing that is very important to me: meetings. It’s how business moves forward. Meetings are where we get stuff done and where we solve problems. That’s why we are continuing to focus on building tools that enable meetings to be as seamless and simple as possible. At the end of the day, we want everyone to focus on the actual meeting content and not the tools.
Over the last 12+ months, we’ve made changes to improve your experience with WebEx.
- First, we created a single, large, green button to start your meeting – no obtuse codes or strange URLs to copy and paste.
- We optimized the meeting join time, down from 20+ seconds to < 5 seconds.
- We created Personal Rooms, virtual meeting spaces that feel like your physical office.
- And recently, we leveraged artificial intelligence to help users identify and mute background noise.
There have been more, but today I want to talk about what how we’re innovating in WebEx to stay in synch with emerging usage patterns.
What do I mean by emerging usage patterns? As the workforce shifts, your expectations of tools and technology have changed. The way people interact with tools has changed. One tap or click should get you what you want or where you are going. And in some cases, you should be able to just talk to your device.
Meetings are where we get stuff done and where we solve problems.
Take the “Facetime Generation,” for which the expectation is that a) technology just works with a single click, and b) audio and video are combined as a single component of any meeting. So, when you click to join a meeting and video doesn’t turn on, or you have to dial in separately for audio, it’s natural you’d be frustrated.
With these shifts, we started asking ourselves why we had joining video as a separate option in WebEx. Audio and video should automatically be part of every meeting experience.
And so, we changed it. We simplified the join process for WebEx meetings by tying the audio and video sequence together. With a new user interface, a single click does everything. Just like people expect: fewer clicks, no confusion.
How does it work? Just preset your audio and video preferences (whether dial in, call back, call back to a video endpoint, or connect your webcam), and click the big green button to connect to the meeting with audio and video. Do that once, and the WebEx client will remember your previous selections.
Our UI designers did a great job creating a control that maintains flexibility in how you prefer to join, while also introducing simplicity.
What if you’re working on the go? Mobile devices are where emerging usage patterns have become mainstream: We don’t dial or enter numbers, we simply tap. That’s why we’ve simplified the mobile meeting join experience, too. The app knows the call-in number for the meeting and it knows your phone number. With “Automatic Connection,” you can have the meeting call you, you can automatically call in, or you can automatically call over Internet. The best part of this feature? You don’t have to enter numbers for any of these options.
All these are seemingly simple, small changes that work in concert to improve the meeting experience.
Boosting the Browser
One other significant change we’ve made to make joining meetings easier than ever is to improve the WebEx web app so you can join meetings directly from a browser. Why did we do this? People aren’t always in a location or on a device where they can install software. Perhaps they’re on a computer that won’t allow plug-ins, software updates, or desktop image certifications. We want to make sure you can always have access to the latest and greatest meeting experience.
By leveraging WebRTC and Cisco’s OpenH264 binary module integrated into your browser, you get a great voice and video call, without plugins, complex and cumbersome browser downloads, or expensive transcoding gear in the cloud. Within seconds you’re in any WebEx meeting with almost the same experience – audio, video, and viewing of shared files. This is putting the web into web conferencing!
We’re always striving to innovate with WebEx, creating better, simplified meeting experiences that allow you to focus on the core purpose of meetings: the exchange of ideas and collaboration.
What’s next for us at Cisco Collaboration? We’re continuing to create tools that accelerate the collaborative process. And we’re finding ways to leverage new technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and virtual reality to make collaboration – and meetings – even better.
Stay tuned, because there is a lot more coming.
What do you think? Let me know below or on Twitter @jensmeggers.