Categories: Collaboration Devices

Bring your go-to workplace apps to life with Webex Room Navigator

Last week we announced a series of exciting new Webex innovations at Enterprise Connect, the first major industry event where our team was present in what seems like a lifetime.  As predicted, we are seeing hybrid events like this, and hybrid work ramp up. The need for the right technology in place to support a smooth return to office is more critical than ever. In a previous blog, we highlighted the breakthrough capabilities and feature enhancements that support this. Things like easily finding and reserving appropriate space to collaborate are inherent to Webex Devices.

As businesses are planning their transition back to the office, workplace resources, HR, and IT teams are under pressure across the board to upgrade and adapt their office spaces to empower hybrid workers. Enabling more meaningful collaboration and hassle-free workplace journey requires more seamless, consistent experiences that can help make those in-office moments really count.

The right workplace strategy requires the right technology choices. With today’s office blending virtual and physical spaces, people need access to the tools that result in high-quality collaboration experiences, create engagement and improve productivity.

Should I stay or should I go

A recent hybrid work survey conducted by Dimensional Research sought to learn directly from knowledge workers the key technologies aiding their way—either a couple of days per week or entirely—back to the physical workplace. The results revealed a few areas that have been historically challenging and cumbersome from the times when work still meant the time spent at our office desks.

44% of respondents highlighted the importance of space reservation technology as a key element to facilitate the transition. And it comes as no surprise. Who would have forgotten the wasted time we spent while looking for an available meeting room? Or the tedious and clunky processes to book them? And not least of all, the annoyance and wasted space caused by “ghost meetings”?

In addition to taking the guesswork out of room booking and hot desking, company notifications via digital signage (46%), real-time insights into space utilization (41%), sensor-driven insights into environmental health (37%), and wayfinding (25%) were also desired as workers need the ability to secure proper spaces and have optimal conditions to work and collaborate.

One intelligent room display for all

From the hallway to the meeting room, scheduling displays and touch controllers can play a critical role in supporting the modern worker. These control devices, alongside the embedded applications that run on them, can significantly remove friction points throughout the day, provide intelligent space reservation and navigation, and offer useful context and information that will keep workers safe and productive.

We designed Webex Room Navigator with this exact vision in mind. It is more than just a mere touch panel mounted on the wall or placed at the conference table. Room Navigator brings ease and convenience into modern workspaces by providing instant access to conference controls, smart room booking, and room controls.

Right from the start, we recognized that no single vendor is able to support the entire workplace experience journey and companies are turning to best-of-breed workspace management solutions with strong integration with their collaboration technology while striving for UI and hardware consistency with the rest of their deployment.

These value-added integrations provide the means to display custom content for safety or branding purposes and offer navigation for seamless wayfinding, among others. For this reason, we’ve been providing open standards to allow businesses augment the native Webex application running on Room Navigator with specialist workplace management and room control functionality.

Your third-party workplace experience applications, now on Room Navigator

Now we are excited to take this to the next level by enabling persistent web apps on Room Navigator.

While users get the native, out-of-the-box Webex solution for room controls and room booking, businesses can also configure their go-to workplace management solutions and custom applications as embedded web apps on the touch when it is paired with a Webex video endpoint. By doing so, organizations get optionality and the freedom of choice to switch to their preferred apps, provide consistent experiences for end users and get even more value from their Webex hardware investment.

This allows users to use the award-winning Room Navigator device and, at the same time, leverage third-party experiences for room and desk reservation, wayfinding, custom content, and other capabilities that are essential to creating a more intelligent, engaging and safer office environment.

We are proud to have been partnering with Appspace and UMA to bring this capability to market while engaging with other ecosystem partners to expand the list of supported solutions. This opens a new world of possibilities by enabling a wider set of use cases with Room Navigator, such as:

  • checking into a meeting room by scanning a QR-code with your mobile device,
  • viewing interactive floor maps that help you navigate to the nearest available room,
  • customizing your room booking interface or even develop your own space reservation and workspace solution to run on the touch panel,
  • setting up full signage mode when the touch panel is idle, and
  • configuring custom alerts and branding content, just to name a few.

And there’s more. Many organizations have developed or prefer to create custom-built, native solutions for space reservation and other office workflows. We’ve got this covered too. Using easy-to-integrate cloud and device APIs, you can easily configure Room Navigator to work with your own solution to run as persistent web app on the touch device.

The missing link between collaboration and workplace technology

The web apps running on Navigator get access to the meeting room sensors’ data and the Webex hybrid calendar to enhance custom integrations. These can be easily provisioned and configured in Control Hub, reducing the IT effort needed to run third-party apps on the room displays. The data collected from sensors while in third-party mode get ingested into the workspace management solution’s dashboard for analytics and workspace insights.

Unlike other solutions optimized for Android-based operating systems, Webex provides more flexibility to configure Room Navigator to run on the workspace experience solution of your choice, and minimal IT effort to setup your touch controllers: configuration can be centrally performed for all the Room Navigator devices deployed on your premises in Control Hub.

No more manual, never-ending upgrades. On Room Navigator, your workspace app is upgraded remotely, without any disruption to the service.

And we have thought about in-room controls as well. When the device is deployed as a touch controller inside the meeting room, you can use these partner solutions to extend the native Webex experience with smart customizations, including option to release a room or extend the meeting with a single tap on the touch interface

Ensuring a smooth return to the hybrid office

By choosing Webex by Cisco, you can significantly simplify your deployment, lower total cost of ownership and ease management efforts. All of this is possible with a single vendor to offer meeting platform-agnostic video devices, the underlying collaboration platform, the touch device for room controls and space reservation, and the associated software. And now we have made it workplace management solution-agnostic, enabling you to seamlessly pair the room panel with your preferred third-party or custom-developed applications.

As we’ve examined, Webex Room Navigator delivers smooth integration with both collaboration endpoints and third-party applications, bringing unmatched room intelligence and UI consistency in a cost-effective and simple way.

We can’t wait to see how this new capability on Webex Room Navigator will help companies provide world-class workplace experiences for their end users to help them become more engaged, productive and empowered to get work done.

Supporting the hybrid work environment is no longer an option, it’s a requirement. Watch our video and get practical tips for how to use Webex Room Navigator and Webex collaboration hardware technology to enable inclusive, intelligent experiences in the hybrid workplace.

Co-author Subbu Subramanian, Product Manager, Collaboration Technology Group

Subbu Subramanian is a Product Manager in Collaboration technology group working on the next generation devices. He holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science from University of Central Florida.

Subbu has been working in various roles building, supporting and bringing to market Collaboration and Contact Center products for over 14 years. As a product manager he loves building high quality products that meets Cisco’s high standards and brings exceptional value to customers.

Learn more

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More than video conferencing solutions: Reimagining work experiences

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Arnaud Caigniet

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