Cisco's Collaboration Summit was an action packed, demo heavy, announcement fest. If you missed the live webcast, the recording is well worth a watch. Here are the top 5 announcements and what they mean to you.
Announcement 1: One Platform, One Brand, All Webex
That's right, no more Spark. The Webex brand will cover everything from meetings and calling to team collaboration. Cisco Spark has been rebranded Webex Teams. But this is far from a simple rebrand. The Webex Teams (formerly Cisco Spark) client has been given a meetings focused supercharge. All the familiar Webex controls are now included in a video first, modern layout. Cisco Collaboration CTO, Jonathan Rosenberg, explains more in his blog.
The Skinny: This is a great (and long overdue) move by Cisco. For the past 2 years Cisco has been working to create simple, yet powerful, experiences before, during, and after a meeting. These workflows originate before the meeting starts with messaging and document sharing, evolve to a video-centric, person-focused meeting, and continuing with follow-up conversations. Cisco is re-focusing on what it does well and we'll all benefit.
Announcement 2: Webex Share
It wouldn't be a Cisco press conference without a little hardware and boy did they deliver! Webex Share is an affordable wireless presentation device which works with any HDMI screen. Finally, we have the ability to create a consistent wireless sharing experience across all conference rooms. The same Proximity enabled features included in Cisco's video room systems are delivered in a palm-sized package.
The Skinny: Check out our post dedicated solely to Webex Share
Announcement 3: Welcome Broadsoft
Cloud call control got into the action with the announcement that Broadsoft will also fold into the Webex umbrella as Webex Calling. The acquisition of Broadsoft provided Cisco with the #1 Cloud UC calling platform. Combined with Cisco's HCS, Cisco now represents almost 60% of the Cloud UC market share. More information is found on the official blog.
The Skinny: This announcement almost flew under the radar with all the demo fireworks. However, it's probably the most significant part of Cisco's collaboration portfolio growth strategy. The former Broadsoft product will power Cisco's Cloud calling and Contact Center strategies.
Announcement 4: "Hey Webex, Start My Meeting"
If Webex calling was the most underrated announcement, the artificial intelligence capabilities built on top of Cisco MindMeld technology was the belle of the ball. What can the Webex Assistant really do on a video unit? Cisco demonstrated a few of the possibilities:
Start a meeting
End a meeting
Conference another participant
Search the corporate directory
The capabilities weren't limited to just conference room video endpoints. Cisco's desk phones were demonstrated to have the same capabilities. Best of all, Cisco's heralded Big Green Button join experience (also called One Button To Press) will extend to desk phones.
The capabilities will also be deployed to provide noise suppression for that annoying chip eater, paper shuffler, keyboard hacker, or barking dog. More interesting, a feature referenced as the Webex Graph will look to provide contextual experiences such as surfacing the colleague you worked with previously when doing a directory search.
The Skinny: Voice assistants are all the craze, and Cisco delivered in a big way. Time will tell if the technology is flexible enough to handle real-world interactions or will ultimately frustrate end users (who hasn't had a "Hey Siri, I'm going to throw you out the window" moment). However, the single most exciting moment may have been when a desk phone user received a meeting reminder on the phone and was able to join a Webex Meeting with a single button press. Now that's what I call magical!
Announcement 5: Collaboration Flex Plan
A new brand deserves a new purchasing model. The Collaboration Flex plan is a subscription providing cloud, hosted, and on premise deployment options. Additional details can be found on the Collaboration Flex Plan product site.
That's the highlight reel, but there's lots of goodness throughout the entire session. I'd share more, but I'm running late for a meeting, "Hey Webex, Join my Meeting".