It always fascinates me to watch a film set in the past – maybe 30 to 50 years ago – when that film includes depictions of people at work, to see how different things were back then. Writing inter-office memos! Cold-calling someone to ask a question and getting routed to voicemail where you can leave your request and await a reply! Working only at the office because you couldn’t work anywhere else! These were the fundamental truths of work not so many decades ago. Today they are light years away from the experience of the modern knowledge worker.
The reason things have changed so dramatically is that technology innovations drive changes in how we do things. The telephone, email, and the intranet all had profound implications on the way people do their jobs. And a new wave of innovation is once again bringing changes to the way people work.
We’re seeing real-time persistent chat in the workplace, facilitating a new type of communications modality. We’re also seeing the arrival of AI, allowing us to automate new categories of tasks. We’re seeing video go mainstream (finally).
When all of these are put together, it is creating a new era of work – an era we call Work Intuitive. In this new era of work, the technology fades to the background and facilitates natural workflow, rather than opposing it.
At Cisco, we’re helping to usher in this era. A few weeks ago at our Collaboration Summit event in Phoenix, we made five announcements that are the culmination of years of development work targeted at delivering Work Intuitive to everyone:
- A unified brand – Webex. This new era of working is all about simplicity – simple and seamless experiences that just fade into the background. A single name for a common experience is essential for that.
- A new, video-centric Webex Meetings application. This new era of work is about video – delivering that always-on “like being there” experience. That means putting video front and center. We’ve reimagined the Webex Meetings experience bringing video to the forefront, aligning it with the same meeting experience available today on our video conferencing endpoints. That also brings simplicity – a common meeting experience everywhere.
- A new Webex Teams application that can join Webex meetings. One of the big changes we’re seeing is in the tools on the desktop. Users are spending less time in email and more time in collaborative team chat applications. Our Webex Teams application – formerly known as Cisco Spark – has always been best-in-class at chat. Now, it’s also a full-fledged meetings client, able to join and participate in Webex meetings. Beyond that, we’ve merged the concepts of group chat and meetings to deliver an entirely new type of meeting experience – a Team meeting. Team meetings forego the traditional notion of a meeting host and allow any member of the team to run and manage the meeting. This makes meetings more natural, faster, and aligned with the way modern work is happening.
- Webex Share. One of the biggest frustrations for users is the difficulty in sharing content in a conference room. Hunting for cables and dealing with dongle keys is the exact opposite of intuitive. The future of work is about the seamless flow of content between people and places – that is essential to make the technology fade into the background. With Webex Share, users can walk into any conference room and wirelessly share their screen with a single click.
- Webex Assistant. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will make the move from the living room to the conference room. It is the ultimate tool for making work more intuitive. Users will be able to ask the assistant to handle more and more work tasks over time – the types of tasks that frustrate people and feel like a waste of effort. Can’t figure out how to start the meeting? Ask the assistant. Can’t find the slides you want to share? Ask the assistant.
The next era of work is upon us, and like prior eras, it is a change driven by technology innovations. This time around, team collaboration tools, video, AI, and a dramatic simplification of user experiences will change how things work. I for one am very much looking forward to this new era of Work Intuitive.
And so today we kick off our new marketing campaign, Work Intuitive, to share our vision of the next era of work with Cisco Webex. It starts with a video featuring rising star Millie Bobby Brown, who is known for her communication and influence both on-screen, in the Netflix series Stranger Things, and offscreen. We hope you enjoy your first look at what we think is possible when technology innovation drives an entirely new work experience: Work Intuitive.