Meetings are a critical part of how we work today. They enable us to quickly connect with colleagues, customers, partners, and others. We share ideas, make decisions, and drive innovation in today’s fast-paced global economy. Cisco is the only vendor that can truly connect conferencing hardware, software, and SaaS offerings to provide the best end-to-end user experience regardless of whether they are internal or external, while making it secure and scalable for IT.

Recently Arne L. Norheim, the CEO of IBM Norway, told us “Cisco’s new meeting solutions are accelerating collaboration within our business. Experiences that are simple and intuitive are essential to helping our teams be even more effective in their interactions with clients and colleagues.”

Keeping with our promise of obsessing about our customers, my leaders and I meet with many customers each week to understand how they work and what they need. And with a cloud service, we have immense usage telemetry that continually informs us on user behavior patterns, while providing insights into what and how to improve.

We’ve been working hard to improve our industry-leading meetings experience, and are doing this in a few new ways.

Making scheduling meetings even easier

Simplification has always been central to our approach. You can see how this has already manifested in our meeting experience with the One Button to Push (OBTP) join experience – also known as the Big Green Button. OBTP is now ubiquitous regardless of how you join a meeting – desktop, mobile, web, guest client, or one of our beautiful endpoint devices.

We’re taking that same simplification a step further into the scheduling experience. In a recent survey, we found that scheduling meetings is the second-biggest pain point for users. With our new @Meet feature, you can simply type @meet into the meeting invite. No matter what your deployment looks like – on-premises, cloud, or a mix of both – Webex schedules the meeting and automatically includes the relevant meeting join information. No more management portals or separate booking systems. Users can now enjoy a simple scheduling experience with the ability to join with the touch of one button!

New video devices provide exciting possibilities

Not all meetings are the same. An all-hands session, situation room, executive boardroom, or creative brainstorming session each has its own set of requirements based on what attendees need to accomplish. We know you’re challenged with making the most of workplace transformation initiatives so that your teams can maximize their interactions in every space. We are excited to introduce several new room devices to meet these needs, including the Cisco Webex Room Kit Pro with our most advanced codec. Learn more from Snorre Kjesbu.

“The Room Kit Pro is opening up new opportunities for the university,” stated Ian Callahan, COO, Curtin University. “It’s state of the art technology, including 4k content sharing and AI-driven experiences, that allows us to expand our programs and create new levels of engagement. We now have the ability to bring in students, professors and experts at a significantly higher resolution resulting in an improved classroom experience.”

At Cisco, we’re truly committed to enabling diversity. And now our technology is at the forefront of enabling the diversity of thought and geography with our endpoints and meeting solutions.

Cisco Webex Edge improves quality and cost savings

Webex hosts billions of meeting minutes each month. And the Webex cloud has a worldwide backbone engineered for great meetings. The backbone ensures superior quality, reliability, and security that is impossible to achieve on the other public cloud-based services. It’s the only collaboration service built and optimized for real-time media. Now, we are re-architecting the edge so that you can maximize the power of Webex backbone directly in your own data center and improve meeting experiences. And we are doing this without asking users to change their behavior or requiring you to train them on some new technology or way of meeting. Cisco Webex Edge consists of three services: Webex Edge Audio, Webex Edge Connect, and Webex Edge Video Mesh (formerly Hybrid Media Service). Javed Khan provides more detail in his post..

The team at Dow sees Webex Edge improving the user experience. “Effective meetings are important to connecting our business,” said Brandon Schroeder, Manager, Collaboration Services, The Dow Chemical Company. “Cisco Webex Edge makes our meeting experiences even better on a global scale. It’s easy for users, enables great video and audio quality over the cloud, with direct peering and an end-to-end architecture that allows us to leverage our existing investments.”

Meanwhile, partners like CDW are seeing the value of Webex Edge for higher quality at a lower price. Nathan Coutinho, CDW’s director of Digital Workspace Solutions, believes “Cisco Webex Edge services are a great opportunity for our business and for our customers to reduce costs, capitalize on existing investments, and deliver great end-to-end meeting experiences for audio, video, and content. Cisco is introducing a very compelling edge suite of offers that simplify experiences for users and IT. Better audio, video quality, and cost-effectiveness for cloud-based meeting solutions is a winning combination.”

Integrating with the productivity tools people use most

Our strategy is focused on building bridges, not islands for end users and customers  A collaboration canvas may include video devices and meeting apps, but it also includes productivity tools. That’s why we’re integrating our collaboration solutions with industry-leading productivity suites including Microsoft O365 and Google G Suite.

Earlier this year we announced our plans for Google Calendar Native UI integration with Cisco Webex Meetings. We are also integrating with Microsoft productivity apps, giving users the ability to easily join or start Webex Meetings from Microsoft Teams as well as integrations with Exchange and O365 calendaring. And this is just the start. Look for even deeper integrations within Microsoft’s productivity suite to further simplify team collaboration workstreams for users with file and content sharing across OneDrive and SharePoint, plus planned integrations into the Office Suite.

Cutting the cord with new headsets for the modern workplace

When we talk about delivering the best quality end-to-end experience, we mean it. Most knowledge workers prefer using headsets for their meetings, especially in today’s open office layouts. And that is why Tom Puorro and his Unified Communications team recently announced a new range of professional headsets. The Cisco 500 Series headsets are optimized to work with all Cisco IP phones as well as Jabber, Webex Meetings, and Webex Teams. Today we’re excited to introduce two more models in the series – the new 561 and 562 wireless headsets – to enable even greater mobility around the office. Get the whole story from Tom Puorro.

We understand businesses, small and large, are transforming with a focus on empowering their workers to think big, do more and achieve greater results. We are listening to your feedback and obsessing about bringing simplicity to your meetings and collaboration needs, not just today but every day. We believe we have the right collaboration solutions to help you in that transformation.

Learn more about Cisco’s collaboration portfolio.