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This week I made my way out to Phoenix to attend the Cisco Collaboration Summit with special interest in the opening keynote to be delivered by Cisco SVP, Rowan Trallope, and a few of the key executives on his team responsible for collaboration and applications including Webex. The presentation started out with a quick victory lap as Rowan shared an update on Cisco Market Share (visual below). Essentially in the call control, web meeting, video and contact center space, Cisco still dominates the market. This was followed up by a series of meaningful announcements about the future of Cisco’s Collaboration portfolio.
In the spirit of trying to keep this post short and sweet, I wanted to run through a few of the important highlights and announcements that came from the opening session that I believe warrant some real consideration.
Spark + Webex Unite: The cloud collaboration platforms known as Spark and Webex are going to become one family. This will become a nomenclature of “Webex” with subcontext like Webex Meet. This is the marriage of what was known as Webex Meetings and Spark Meetings. This was due to happen and I see this as a good thing.
Webex Graph: This solution looks at the complexity of a multi cloud world and brings together teams, productivity tools, physical spaces, devices and more. The 3 focuses are connecting physical and virtual worlds, identity and directory visibility and then team enabled productivity. For instance, real time integration with the Microsoft graph for Office 365 Users.
Broadsoft Finds a (Clear) Home: Broadsoft was a big acquisition for Cisco and we knew it would enhance the collaboration suite, but the features of UC One. The UC One solution was the Cloud UC solution that Broadsoft built into one of the largest open source UC platforms in the world. This solution set will find its home in the new centralized family of “Webex” solutions.
Microsoft (and other) Integration: Cisco showed a connector to allow Webex users to connect to Microsoft Teams and 365. This isn’t a completely seamless connection, but I believe it is a positive step knowing that no single platform will dominate the enterprise or the way people want to collaborate with their ecosystem.
Webex Assistant: Last year, Cisco showed Spark Assistant, which was a voice based chat bot that could be used to launch meetings and enhance the Spark Experience in rooms with Spark Board. The AI solution will be based upon the Mindmeld acquisition from last year. It will first show up on cloud based room systems, but is likely to show up in desktop/mobile variants as well.
I believe that Cisco is on the right track with their collaboration offerings. As the incumbent leader, their acquisition of Broadsoft only enhances their position, but more importantly the integration of their vast collaboration offerings under the single umbrella of Webex gives them some much needed continuity that will help decision makers feel more comfortable in expanding their relationship with Cisco beyond their more traditional strong suits of Webex and Call Control into new areas like Spark (Now Webex Teams), and their Whiteboard products formally called Sparkboard (Now Webex Board).
The challenges that remain is building a collaboration product that meets the rigorous security, privacy and compliance needs of an enterprise, while creating that easy to use solution that often drives employees to Shadow IT solutions and that popularized solutions like Slack.
Cisco is making many of the right moves. I look forward to watching this evolve and will keep you updated.
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