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Relaunch of the Webex Ambassador Program

Webex Ambassador Program

I am beyond excited to announce the relaunch of the Webex Ambassador Program. Our ambassadors are highly knowledgeable and the backbone of our Webex Community. Whether they’re sharing best practices, offering suggestions on project plans, answering technical questions, or presenting at Webex Community events, Webex Ambassadors add unparalleled value to Webex, the Community, and Webex users and admins.

Webex Ambassadors are lighting the way for seamless collaboration in their organizations while also sharing valuable feedback and knowledge with fellow Webex users and admins so they too can quickly accomplish their goals. Sound like you? Read on.

At Webex, we truly believe in powering an inclusive future for all. Part of this means building a product that betters the lives of our users and gives customers an experience they love. As the VP of Customer Success for Webex, I am always thinking about the success of our customers. If they’re unable to use Webex to simplify how work gets done, to meet their goals, or to collaborate effectively, it doesn’t matter how good we think our products are. Period.

We understand that our customers are our most valuable asset. They help drive smart innovation and their voices provide insight into how we can do better. We listen to their voices closely, so much so in fact, that we drive high-velocity adoption by harnessing the power of their voices and their vast knowledge.

Webex Ambassador Logo

Where customers go to share, learn, and amplify their voice

The Webex Community is where you’ll find these users, admins, adoption champions, and ambassadors. They act as the voice of the customer and share best practices, give feedback, and build knowledge among fellow community members to help make Webex even better.

Customers can easily make the jump from purchasing Webex to adopting and loving it quickly, all in the Webex Community. We connect customers using Webex with those responsible for adoption planning, integrations and deployment, and the Webex teams creating the collaboration vision of the future. This allows everyone to ask questions, share ideas, project plans, and best practices. With over 70,000 members, numerous customer events, and speakers discussing everything from adoption to technical walkthroughs, the Webex Community truly is your go-to space to discuss all things Webex.

Meet the Webex Ambassador Program

We recognize and reward our most active Webex fanatics in many ways, including an invitation to join our newly launched Webex Ambassador Program. This program is all about listening to the voices of our users to gain an understanding of their experience and how we can make it better.

Webex Community members make the best ambassadors because they’re on a mission to help others and to help Webex be the best product it can be by offering unique insights that help us deliver fast-paced iteration. Ambassadors use their voices to share intelligible and actionable insights with our product and adoption teams, which helps us create the best possible products with clear and scalable adoption blueprints.

So, what’s in it for you? When you become a Webex Ambassador, you’ll get:

  • Tailored learning paths for users, IT admins, and adoption advocates
  • Rewards and recognition for sharing knowledge and insights
  • A chance to influence future Webex innovations
  • Opportunities to amplify your voice

As you continue to learn and share your voice, the more access you’ll gain to advanced classes to continue your learning. You’ll also get the opportunity to meet with the Webex teams designing the collaboration tools of the future.

What kind of ambassador are you?

Whether you’re just starting out or know everything about Webex, we have varying levels of ambassadors based on education. You’ll start as a Webex Power User and work your way up from there. Check out each level below.

Webex Ambassador

As a Webex Power User, you’ll gain access to a tailored learning path that will teach you everything you need to know about Webex and help you achieve the next level as an Associate Ambassador.

As an Associate Ambassador, you’ll dive deep into the details of effective technical and adoption practices. People at this level are typically leaders in the Webex Community.

Can you then level up to be a Professional Ambassador. You’ve already been tested on the most advanced levels of Webex products, including driving outcome-based adoption and workflow integrations that help drive continuous collaboration.

The top tier of our ambassadors—the Webex Experts—is a group of nomination-only members who comprise the top one percent of our program. They meet with our business regularly to influence our innovations, present at Webex Community events, and co-create adoption materials alongside our team.

This elite group builds bots and integrations, share real-world use cases, and drive innovation here at Webex. They even created the Aha! Portal that allows customers, partners, and internal teams to submit feature suggestions to our product teams. You can read about how this came to be in this blog.

 Our ambassadors provide invaluable feedback, insights, and innovations to Webex, so we invest heavily in them and their development. We provide professional development, education, and networking opportunities for our ambassadors to ensure that we are providing equity and access for everyone.

Sound like you?

To join the Webex Ambassador Program and hundreds of other Webex users, visit to sign up

About the author

Gaurav Verma

gaurav verma

Meet Gaurav Verma, VP of Customer Success on the Cisco Collaboration Team. Gaurav has a wealth of industry experience that he uses to drive high-velocity, customer-first adoption here at Cisco. He’s passionate about creating high-value customer experiences through the development of culture, by leveraging new strategies and technologies, and by undergoing fast-paced iterations.

 

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Workspaces
Your guide to sensors and analytics in Webex Devices

You may already know that Webex Devices provide a great collaboration experience for people working from home or in the office, but did you know they are also equipped with powerful sensors?

Sensors aren’t just for data enthusiasts or those responsible for workplace optimization and safety. They can provide critical and timely information to employees which can drive behavior, build trust and at the end of the day, create an amazing workplace experience.

Have you ever been in a meeting room that felt crowded or stuffy and you just needed a few minutes to break away? Sensors, analytics, and automation solve this issue by giving people the information they need to make informed decisions about where and how they work.

A common argument against sensors is that they are expensive, difficult to install and require a team to track, manage and optimize spaces. That may be true for ad-hoc devices, but Webex Devices come equipped with powerful sensors out of the box, so you can easily gain the insights you need to optimize every workspace at no extra charge. It’s all included in the video conferencing device — no extra installation, no data scientists, just reliable insights.

We recently discussed how sensors and workplace analytics can help deliver a safe return to the office. Now, let’s take a closer look at how various roles can benefit from sensors:

The office worker

For users, the complexity of sensors, data and analytics are always hidden. For example, if there are too many people in a room or the air quality is poor, the sensors in the Webex device will measure the conditions and an alert can be delivered straight to the video conferencing device, a Webex Room Navigator on the table or even a 3rd display.

The messages and warnings are fully customizable so organizations can adapt messages to the characteristic of the room. For example, the alert can notify people in the room to open a window if there is one, use another room and provide direction to the closest available room, or reduce the amount of people if the threshold limit is reached. The possibilities are endless, and it can all be automated, so no one has to sit in front of a screen all day monitoring and manually alerting people.

The HR and facilities representative

If you are in human resources or the facilities department, Webex sensors and analytics enables you to know if workers are staying in a healthy environment and whether the criteria for comfort, safety and energy are met. And historical data and insights are reported directly into the Webex Control Hub Workspace tab so you can have a full view of how environmental factors are trending.

Sensors and analytics in Webex Control Hub
Fig 1: historical environment metrics
historical utilization metrics
Fig 2: historical utilization metrics

Optimizing workspaces with Webex sensors

Webex Devices provide various types of sensors for ensuring safe and productive workspaces. These are the sensors available today:

1) Presence & people count for real estate optimization

Spaces are rarely used to their full potential; they are often overused or underused which can lead to productivity loss. Some rooms could be divided, while others should be augmented. Space optimization has a direct impact on energy and the cost of real estate, but more importantly on employees’ productivity and wellbeing. People count in Webex Devices uses AI to accurately detect humans, whether they are facing the Webex Device or not. This data makes it easy to plan and optimize spaces based on usage trends.

People Count Sensing
Fig 3: People count sensing used to regulate the room density

 

2) Temperature & humidity for reducing the risk of virus transmission 

Temperature and humidity need to be thought of simultaneously because the one affects the other. While temperature is mostly a human preference, maintaining a temperature of 21 to 25 degrees Celsius for a person sitting still is deemed productive.

Research also points at regular burst of cold air to improve productivity. With regards to humidity, we need to be more prescriptive. Usually, humidity levels between 30% and 60% are recommended, as it’s considered most healthy for humans.

Itchy eyes, throat irritations and respiratory symptoms have been associated with unfavorable humidity levels. And more recent studies also show that the level of humidity has a direct impact on the propagation of the Covid-19. They suggest maintaining relative humidity levels between 40% and 60%.

3) Air quality & VOCs for preventing air saturated with pollutants 

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) are present in furniture and carpets, cleaning products, perfumes, when food is cooked and in human breath. When they accumulate in a room, they can cause irritations, headaches, and loss of concentration which results in discomfort, productivity loss or even danger.

Poor air quality can often be circumvented with better ventilation. Tracking people count and air quality simultaneously can also help you find root causes and possible adaptations.

The Webex platform APIs also enable the automation of these processes, so the data can be rendered and acted upon. Both the Webex Desk Pro and Webex Room Navigator are enabled with TVOC sensing. Values reported in the Control Hub follow UBA reference levels and indicate 5 different levels of air quality.

4) Noise measurements for designing comfortable spaces

Noise at work is one of the major causes of dissatisfaction. It can hinder productivity, focus, memory retention and mental arithmetic.

Webex measures two types of noise, the overall noise produced by people, tools, and the building itself, and the ambient or background noise produced by the HVAC systems, for example. Isolating noises will help better understand the kind of annoyances people are confronted with and how they can be resolved. The WELL Building Institute recommends no more than 35dBA background noise in conference rooms.

5) Good acoustics for improving intelligibility and reducings strain

Bad acoustics in rooms generates reverberance that causes fatigue. Meeting rooms with glass walls are a typical example. The WELL standard recommends reverberation times of less than 0.6 second in conference rooms.

While this is uncomfortable for workers inside the room, it is even more so for people who are on a call and sitting in the far end where it becomes difficult for the brain to process and separate sound sources. We’ve all experienced this “speaker in a box” feeling.

Webex Devices measure the RT60 (reverberation time) on a regular basis without emitting testing sounds.

In addition to these environment sensors, Webex Devices can also report on the activity and status of a room. APIs give access to information such as: ongoing calls, presentation sharing in and out of call and booked rooms., This information can be used to better understand how rooms are used.

The right sensor at the right place

Analytics from Webex Devices come from multiple sensors within our device portfolio. People count is an attribute of the Webex Room and Board series. Usually located against a wall, centered and at bodies’ height, it is the best placement for recognizing and counting people. Air quality, temperature and humidity on the other hand are located inside the new Webex Room Navigator, on the table, and closer to where people are sitting, hence reporting conditions as they are experienced by people themselves.

Sensor Information in Navigator
Fig 4: The sensor information displayed in a Navigator on a custom panel
Sensing capabilities supported in Webex Devices
Fig 5: Sensing capabilities supported in Webex Devices

 

In the past, organizations concerned with environment health and space optimization invested in sensors for the workplace, but for many, the cost of acquisition, integration, licenses, and maintenance was often a deterrent. With Webex Devices, rooms enabled with collaboration technology now double as a smart sensors hub and provide the analytics and insights you need to continuously monitor and optimize spaces.

Webex Devices have sensors built-in, securely reporting on your network and into a dashboard — so don’t wait, get to your Webex Control Hub now and watch those Workspaces in action.

To learn more about sensors and analytics, read The Collaboration How-To Guide for the Hybrid Workplace.

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Still need help?

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Innovations from Webex Experts: How Webex Aha! came to be

The Webex Ambassadors Program is a global community of Webex loyalists who receive custom Webex learning paths to help further their careers, earn rewards, and influence the future of collaboration. Our Webex Experts are a top-tier group of members who offer thought leadership and act as counsel to our product and customer adoption teams. In this series, we’ll explore their contributions to the Webex ecosystem and hopefully inspire you to do more than you ever imagined possible with Webex.

The story of Webex Aha

Let’s look back a few years to 2017. We attended regular meetings with the Webex product teams where any of us could give feedback in live sessions and in Webex spaces about new opportunities to improve our products. We would share perspectives, suggest and build integrations and bots, and offer ideas for new features. Teams would take notes, try to prioritize ideas, and then attempt to circle back once they committed to or abandoned an idea. Sometimes, we’d get an update that an idea had been slated as a project, but most of the time, there wasn’t a standard way to communicate whether our ideas were falling into a black hole or actually helping.

This process simply wasn’t working. With so many voices in such an informal setting, it was hard to articulate and quantify the impact and urgency of a request. We wanted to create a systematic way to provide product feedback while helping our teams prioritize requests. This is where we — the Webex Experts — stepped up.

Webex gave us complete autonomy to scope the problem, come up with a viable solution, and ultimately, implement the solution. Once we got approval from Josh Reola, our Webex Ambassador sponsor, and product management executives like Damien McCoy, we explored the group’s needs and the needs of the products teams we were hoping to serve.

We set out to solve a challenge, but we also wanted to provide a mechanism for the Webex product teams to quantify the importance of a specific feature request and streamline the decision-making process. The end goal? Speed up how long it took to get from idea to implementation to innovation. We wanted to drive Webex innovation at the speed of light.

Finding the best solution to a big problem

The first step was to research platforms that would address our numerous needs. After evaluating a few platforms, we settled on Aha! Roadmap Software. We then designed and built the Webex Idea Portal on the platform, taking into consideration the needs of both the product teams and the feedback provider. This allowed us to determine the proper fields, workflow, and process to submit and receive feedback in an automated manner. We also wanted to build a system component that enabled a crowdsourced voting mechanism. This let users add more detail or use cases to give more color to the initial idea request.

Add a new idea

After implementation, we used the Webex Idea Portal to provide feedback to the Webex product teams. We made a few tweaks along the way to modify and add fields based on our experience and the needs of the product teams. The portal housed all requests in a single place where we could prioritize ideas, follow up with submitters, gather more information, and where the product teams could easily gauge urgency. It greatly improved communication, which helped to quantify how long an idea would take to implement.

Because of this and the success Webex saw on the platform, they converted the portal to a corporate-wide tool that was rolled out to internal Webex sales teams and Cisco partners in March of 2018 (less than a year after it was built).

This portal has became a standard tool and was one of the most effective ways for all stakeholders to give input to the Webex teams. Partners, Webex Experts, and internal sales teams could all submit their ideas, vote on them, add customer names, submit additional details, and track their idea’s progress. Product teams were finally able to access this invaluable feedback in one place.

Virtual Background

As Webex Experts, we have unique opportunities (like that with the Webex Idea Portal) to influence and impact the direction of Webex products. This project gave us all the opportunity to optimize a process that significantly improved a critical business process for Webex. We were all excited about the impact it had on Webex.

Damien McCoy’s take on the business impact

When the feedback portal idea was brought to our executive team, I was fascinated, but certainly not surprised. Our Webex Experts have always been problem solvers and transparent about how our products could better serve them. Because of their history of excellence, I was quick to endorse this product and couldn’t have been more impressed with how well they were able to execute a brilliant idea.

The Webex Ideal Portal that our Experts built on Aha! helped us uncover quite a few use cases we had never considered and gave us the unique opportunity to hear perspectives from varying industries. We were gaining an understanding of our customers’ needs, which has been invaluable.

Up until this year, we were gathering feedback in the portal from Experts, partners, and internal teams. But what about our customers? Their voices couldn’t be heard in the portal because they didn’t have access. So, when we launched the Webex Community in May of 2020, we opened the portal to a much broader audience. Now, anyone who uses Webex can utilize this portal to make their voices heard. This level of feedback would not have happened without the work the Webex Experts put in.

Our product teams can now listen to our customers, users, partners, and our Webex Ambassadors. They can respond to and prioritize feedback and ideas. Beyond this, the Webex Idea Portal has given us a way to interact, get all the necessary details, and build direct relationships with those who have generated and contributed to ideas. It allows for open-source ideas and the ability to prioritize, streamline, and speed up innovation.


Webex User Community

In closing

Some of our very best ideas come directly from the Webex Community. We evangelize our Webex Ambassadors to crowdsource solutions to common problems and to share use cases and challenges. I cannot overstate the value our Webex Experts (like Chris, Matt, and Thomas) provide by co-creating solutions alongside us.

If you love finding solutions to problems and want to join an incredible group of talented Webex fanatics, enroll early in our Webex Ambassadors Program. Level up your knowledge. Your network. Your voice.

About the authors

Chris Capasso

Chris Capasso

Chris Capasso has been a Webex Expert since 2017. Find out more about his accomplishments, his experience with the Webex Ambassadors, or his areas of expertise in the Webex Ambassadors directory

Matt Spool

Matt Spool

Matt Spool has been a Webex Expert since 2017. Find out more about his accomplishments, his experience with the Webex Ambassadors, or his areas of expertise in the Webex Ambassadors directory.

Thomas Vidgar

thomas vidgar

Thomas Vidgar has been a Webex Expert since 2017. Find out more about his accomplishments, his experience with the Webex Ambassadors, or his areas of expertise in the Webex Ambassadors directory.

Damien McCoy

Damien McCoy

Damien McCoy: Damien joined Cisco in 2011 initially delivering market growth for the Cisco Jabber product line and was part of the early team building Webex Teams to support the shift to team collaboration in the cloud. He now leads our growth team as the Director of Product Growth at Webex, partnering with customers to deliver workplace and employee experience transformation strategies. When he’s not at his desk Damien enjoys the Atlantic Ocean and local wilderness with his local Sea Scout group.

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Webex video conferencing meeting with colleagues using Webex Devices
Innovations from Webex Experts: Making Devices even better

The Webex Ambassadors Program is a global community of Webex loyalists who receive custom Webex learning paths to help further their careers, earn rewards, and influence the future of collaboration. Our Webex Experts are a top-tier group of members who offer thought leadership and act as counsel to our product and customer adoption teams. In this series, we’ll explore their contributions to the Webex ecosystem and hopefully inspire you to do more than you ever imagined possible with Webex. 

Webex Expert Bobby McGonigle makes using Devices easy 

As an introvert, I never expected to be as active in the Webex Community as I am. Once I got involved, I learned so much from other members, but I also enjoyed addressing challenges, building knowledge of new use cases, and practicing developing in the Macro Editor.

Before I became a Webex Expert, I began my career as a video conferencing service technician in 2017 with a mere three months of IT experience. I worked previously at a local grocery store as a deli clerk for seven years but landed a great internship, which landed me my current role.

At the time, we had approximately 200 Cisco endpoints online, half of which were online at the medical school while the other half were scattered throughout campus. Since then, we have added nearly 200 more Room Devices and within Central IT/Admin, I have personally installed nearly 60 percent of those new systems—jumping from 12 to 130 systems. We also have 13 other schools that are implementing their own projects.

As we continued to grow, my team’s ability to support users became less manageable. We were a small but mighty team of three, but we were never able to get our users to get through training. Instead of scheduling further training, I made it so easy for users to use the rooms that absolutely no training would be required.

How? I taught myself how to write JavaScript and how to use the new Macro Editor, which allowed me to fix common issues. This gave my team the freedom to dive into higher priority tasks. When the Macro Editor was first released in CE9.2, I didn’t know how to code, so I self-taught myself on my train commute every morning and evening. This is how I was able to create new and better experiences for our user community.

Perhaps one of the biggest hurdles to overcomes was teaching users the difference between a telephony number and a SIP address in Webex invites. Users thought the call button was for traditional phone numbers (no matter how many times we explained that it was for both). To address this issue, I created a school-wide macro—the Launch Meeting button—that matched the users’ expectations when they entered a room.

When users selected the Launch Meeting button, they were greeted with an option that only required the meeting ID. The @so&so.com was added automatically. Students either had a Webex link or an invite from a different solution, but they were all able to join meetings without issue. After implementing this solution, I shared it with Webex Experts and published my work on Github so anyone could use my code. I even made one that works on 80+ Sx10’s, even though the Macro Editor doesn’t exist on those systems.

Computer set up with devices
Enrico’s USB lab

Another project I worked on, and one of my favorites, is my Tic Tac Toe game. It shows how you can use macros to change the user interface dynamically to help streamline the user experience. All collaboration doesn’t need to be solely work-related; building relationships with colleagues is just as important, so I wanted to create a game for coworkers to enjoy together in a conference room.

Now that I have a few projects under my belt, I have started working with Cisco’s very own Enrico Condedera on his Project USB. We have learned from fellow experts like Jordan Eliason and his USB Dante project for the Room Kit Mini and John Austin, which has led us to make a few revisions to our own project. I have also been asked by Dustin Baker of the Webex Devices team to contribute a Join Zoom example to Cisco’s Devnet.

I have learned so much as a Webex Expert, but what I really value is the ability to give back. I have been able to do so not only in my professional role, but also in the community I have built with fellow experts, Webex product teams, and everyone else using Webex Devices. It has been such a fulfilling and fun experience.

Enrico Conedera, Webex TME, partners with Bobby to improve products at scale

I couldn’t help but laugh when I learned that Bobby’s work experience was primarily as a deli clerk. My first real job was as a Pest Control Field Representative, also known as an exterminator. I single-handedly fought off all the cockroaches of Santa Monica. Once I got sick of the cockroaches, I began working with Cisco. I came in from the audiovisual side, sneaking in with the Tandberg acquisition. With so many smart network people around, I had to up my game.

As a technical marketing engineer (TME), a big part of my job revolves around ensuring that our products are usable in the field. When COVID-19 hit, video collaboration changed seemingly overnight. Suddenly, every conferencing provider was busy, and everyone needed to collaborate visually. The result? Rapid growth of island technologies that don’t actually talk to each other. For example, Zoom users can’t talk to Microsoft Teams users or BlueJeans users. Pexip and others like it had already specialized in acting as gateways between these islands, but with COVID, Cisco Webex users were getting invited to meetings on other conference services and couldn’t attend.

Until very recently, we existed primarily in a world where we could interoperate with other video conferencing manufacturers like Poly or Lifesize, using standards from the ITU-T and IEEE. The need to be able to meet with customers, partners, and supply chain organizations, became even more critical. Our solutions needed to be easy to meet regardless of the conferencing solution.

To solve for this, Eivind Fiane Christensen and other product managers brought together people from many different disciplines within Cisco to design a new product, the Room Kit Mini. The ability to join any other conferencing provider while using the Room Kit Mini’s intelligent camera and beam-forming mic array was a major requirement for launch. This feature, known as USB Passthrough, was a big step in the right direction.

Existing Room Kits didn’t have the hardware capability for the USB Passthrough, so I looked into the Vaddio AV Bridge product set. I wasn’t too familiar with it, but I was somewhat certain that I could hook it up to a Room Kit Pro and have that same feature: the ability to use your laptop to connect to Zoom while using SpeakerTrack, PresenterTrack, all the microphones and loudspeakers, and the screens that were already part of the Room Kit Pro installation. I then realized that I could do this with all of the Room Kit endpoints. That was a cool moment.

While it took me a while to figure out how to do this, I got it working manually by running API commands one by one to reconfigure the systems to work while I needed it for the USB Passthrough. All I needed was a macro to automate everything. But how? I don’t know how to write macros.

I reached out in a Webex Teams space that I had created to see if anyone could help me write the macro and that’s how I met Bobby. I knew what the macro needed to do, and he knew how to write the macro to do everything required. JavaScript is fussy, but Bobby made it look so easy.

It didn’t take long for us to release a V1 of the macro. It worked remarkably well and has enabled ease of use for third-party USB capture devices for our catalog of video endpoints. This technology even works with some of Cisco’s older products, like the MX700, MX800, and SX80. In our V2, it will include more options for third-party USB capture devices and more documentation on setup and usage.

The most difficult part of the whole process was configuring the software application to use the correct USB camera and microphones but knowing that I have Webex Experts like Bobby eases my mind. Our experts help us solve problems like this so much faster.

Enrico's science project for a passive USB gateway
Enrico’s science project for a passive USB gateway

In closing

Some of our very best ideas come directly from the Webex Community. We evangelize our Webex Ambassadors to crowdsource solutions to common problems and to share use cases and challenges. We cannot overstate the value our Webex Experts (like Bobby McGonigle) provide by creating integrations and co-creating solutions alongside Cisco. Join the USB project with Enrico and Bobby here

If you love finding solutions to problems and want to join an incredible group of talented Webex fanatics, enroll early in our Webex Ambassadors Program. Level up your knowledge. Your network. Your voice.

About the authors 

Enrico Conedera

Enrico is a senior engineer in the CTG Business Unit at Cisco Systems.
He has worked in the audio-visual field for over 30 years, for companies such as Electronic Arts, PictureTel, Polycom, MCI, and Tandberg. Having been with Cisco for fifteen years, he concentrates on Cisco Best Practices for Audio Visual Integration.
A former professional musician, he is a singer / songwriter, plays piano, and runs sound for live concerts.

Bobby McGonigle

Bobby McGonigle

Bobby McGonigle: Bobby has been a Webex Expert since 2019. Find out more about his accomplishments, his experience with the Webex Ambassadors, or his areas of expertise in the Webex Ambassadors directory.

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Still need help?

What would you like to do?

Join a Webex online meeting.

Learn more about web meetings and video conferencing.

Explore daily product demonstrations

Sign up for Webex.

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

Read more
Layout selection on Webex Board
What’s New in RoomOS – February

After a quiet January, we have really upped our innovation engine to bring you 8 new features to enhance your collaboration experience, whether you are in a meeting or wanting to whiteboard or share your screen, or curious as to what a full cloud meeting experience is.

Webex Edge for Devices updates

Native Webex Meeting Experience for Webex Edge for Devices

We are now offering a steppingstone towards an experience that is closer to the cloud experience. With Native Webex Meeting Experience for Webex Edge for Devices, you can enjoy cloud features on your devices registered to the edge when you join a Webex Meeting. Your device will join a Webex Meeting natively, giving you access to all the features that were previously only available in the cloud. Think multi-way whiteboarding, facial recognition with name labels, advanced mute capabilities and host controls.

Webex Edge for Devices Software upgrades

With cloud-managed software upgrades, your Webex Edge for Devices linked devices get upgraded automatically when a new RoomOS software version is available. In order to enable Native Webex Meeting Experience for Webex Edge for Devices, your devices need to be cloud upgradable. This is in order to make sure that any change to the cloud service will be noted by the on-premises endpoint, and don’t disconnect or disrupt any workflow.

In-meeting experiences

Transfer Host and Presenter Roles

When using Webex, it is easy to “pass the ball,” meaning that the meeting host can give special privileges to whomever is going to present. We are now making this available for Webex Rooms devices. This makes it easy to keep the meeting going when the original host needs to leave – they can simply assign a new host, and the meeting can keep on rolling. Check out the help article here.

Transfer Host and Presenter Roles

Request Unmute

There are situations where it’s your turn to present and you’ve forgotten to unmute yourself. Instead of someone announcing to all participants that you’ve forgotten to unmute yourself, we have added an option for the host to send a message to the person who is muted to request them to unmute themselves. The person who is muted will get a notification saying:“You are being asked to unmute yourself.”  Visit the help article to learn more.

Presenter Host and Presenter Roles_1

Closed Captions

We are all about inclusive collaboration experiences and making virtual meetings 10x better than in-person interactions.  That’s why we are excited to introduce closed captions on our devices. Today’s workforce is multicultural, and cross-border collaboration is the norm. By bringing in closed captions to your meetings, you are making it easier for people with hearing impairments to understand what is being said. Additionally, by having both auditory input, being able to see body language through video and closed captions increases the chances of understanding and being understood. Learn more by visiting the help article.

Improved co-creation, layout and content sharing experiences

Shape recognition

We have added a beautification tool to help make the shapes you draw on your whiteboard on the Webex Desk Pro or Webex Board a bit more precise. When you draw certain figures, the whiteboard will detect it and re-trace them with more accuracy. For example, it will complete a circle or straightening a square. If you want to learn more you can check out the help article for Webex Board Series or Webex Desk Series.

Layout selection on Webex Board

The Webex Board series has always had a different layout than the rest of the Webex Rooms portfolio. We are now aligning it to the rest of the portfolio, providing most of the regular layout families to the Webex Board. At this point, this is only available for transcoded meetings. Further, transcoded meetings on single-screen devices will receive a wide PiP with up to 6 participants in view. Click here to learn more.

Layout selection on Webex Board

Improved share flow for Webex Desk Pro

If you haven’t had a chance to try the Webex Desk Pro yet – you are missing out. This is a truly brilliant device, and we are making the content sharing experience even more intuitive. We have added the share button to the floating content bar and your self-view area, making sharing easy. Tired of asking whether people can see your screen? With this new improved share flow, you will get a red border around your screen to let you know that you are sharing. Easy as anything.

Sharing Web Apps in call

A few months back we made it available to launch a web app directly from your Webex Board Desk Pro’s home screen and interact with them using the touch display. We have taken this one step further by allowing you to also use these web apps during a call! The best thing is that everyone is in on the experience – devices without a touch interface can receive and see whatever web apps you are sharing too. The help article can be found here.

That’s it (and that was a lot!) for February. I hope you will make good use of these new features. Until next time!

Learn more

See how you can take your meeting experiences to the next level

Resources

What’s new in Webex: February 2021

Webex Training Drop- In Session [Live Class]

See What’s New in RoomOS

Still need help?

What would you like to do?

Join a Webex online meeting.

Learn more about web meetings and video conferencing.

Explore daily product demonstrations

Sign up for Webex.

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

Read more
woman at computer with puckering kiss face and floating hearts
Valentine’s Day: How to be together, even when you can’t be together

Good ol’ Valentine’s Day.

 

A day marked by roses and the celebration of love.

A day to express how you feel more than any above.

Some people love it, they even propose.

Others despise it… You know how it goes.

While I can’t change your feelings towards this particular day.

I thought I’d offer advice. Use it if you may.

It’s for couples apart, and for couples together.

It’s for single people too. Or people under the weather.

I’ll give you a hint because I don’t want to be misleading.

It’s about Webex! I hope you’ll keep reading.

Virtual Valentine’s ideas

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we wanted to compile and share a few virtual Valentine’s ideas for any situation you are in this year. Use video conferencing to plan a date, or a get-together with friends!

For a first date

If you’re in this boat, props to you! A first date on Valentine’s could feel like a lot of pressure (maybe not, considering who you are). Take the pressure off a bit, and consider a virtual first date!

Idea: Choose a restaurant with your date and then order food from that place. You’ll be experiencing a meal from the same restaurant together. You could even turn on the same playlist and dress up like you normally would when meeting someone for the first time. Who knows, this Valentine’s day could be the start of your forever love.

A person sitting on a couch with a computer

For the couple that can’t be together

Are you long distance and can’t be with your significant other on Valentine’s Day? Here are a couple ideas to keep the romance alive on this special day.

Idea 1: Order a special box of chocolate for both yourself and for your significant other. Sign on to Webex and have a chocolate tasting together.

Idea 2: After a dinner, choose the same movie and have a Teleparty. Netflix has created a new way to watch TV/movies with others, from your own home. Teleparty synchronizes your video playback so you can watch the same movie at the exact same time.

For those that want to double date

One double date idea that you can do from the comfort of your own home is a cocktail and dessert date.

Idea: Have one couple choose a cocktail to teach you how to make. And the other teaches how to make a dessert. Send all the ingredients needed so each couple can grab them beforehand, and then hop on the video conference, turn your cameras on, and you’ve just created your own version of a cooking class! You’ll get to teach the other couple how to make one of your favorite drinks, or favorite desserts. And you get to be together, virtually!

Here is my favorite drink and dessert.

For a Galentine’s night

Webex is also perfect for a Galentine’s night! You can see all your girlfriends, without leaving your house! The best part is, you can stay comfy in loungewear (unless you want to dress up).

Idea: Wine and cheese night. Pick up a bottle of wine and your favorite cheese/cheeses and crackers. Then, drink and eat like you were together in person. This may even save you more money than going out to a restaurant. You can even set your virtual background to something like this. See others here.

Women drinking wine and video conferencing

For really anything else

Don’t want to go anywhere or really plan anything?

If you’re going to be at home but still want to see friends, consider hosting an “open house.” Send all your friends the link to your meeting, turn your video on, and let them pop in and out for a period of 1, 2, 3(?) hours during the night! This could be a chance to see and catch up with all the people you love, from the comfort of your own home.

Like I mentioned before, some people love this day, others hate it. But really, any of these ideas can be used year-round, for any occasion!

We want to spread the love here at Cisco Webex and hope we helped you think of some fun ideas to have an amazing virtual Valentine’s Day!

If you end up trying one of these ideas, share with us on social media by using the hashtag #LoveOnWebex and stay tuned, as we will share our favorite!

Learn more

How to have fun, virtually

Keeping our distance doesn’t mean we can’t stay close

3 tips for managing a virtual get together

Still need help?

Join a Webex online meeting

Learn more about Webex, join one of our upcoming training sessions

Explore daily product demonstrations

Best Practices: How to Work Remotely [Live Class]

Sign up for Webex

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

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What’s new in RoomOS: January

Happy New Year! I hope you are ready for another year, and another round of RoomOS updates. So, without further ado, let’s get straight into it!

Raise hand

Ever had the problem of being in a large meeting and desperately wanting to ask a question without interrupting the speaker? Or ever held a presentation and wanted to get live feedback without having multiple people speaking in tandem leaving nothing but an inaudible mess and loads of untangling to understand who was first? With our new Raise Hand feature, these scenarios are a thing of the past. Meeting participants can simply click the Raise Hand icon on their device, and their names will show up in a sidebar in chronological order, depending on who raised their hand first. Only the first person that raised their hand will have their name displayed on the screen, and the counter on the side will increase with every person that raises their hand.

This also allows the speaker to know when someone raises their hand, and how many questions there are, as the counter on the sidebwr increases. The meeting host can then go to the roster list to unmute whoever has their hand raised. This makes giving and receiving feedback that much easier. If you want to learn more, check out the help article.

Two women in meeting using the raise hand feature in Webex

Far-end camera control

This is a feature that has been requested in many verticals. You ask, we listen and deliver. It is now possible to control the camera of cloud-registered endpoints from the far end. For privacy reasons, this is not available for devices in personal mode, only in shared mode. It couldn’t be simpler – you simply choose the system to control from the participants list, and turn off best overview for the system that you want to control. Click here to learn more.

Cloud upgrade for Webex Edge

We are making easier to manage software upgrades for devices registered to Webex Edge. These devices are now able to upgrade their software directly from the cloud. This feature also gives you clear information in Webex Control Hub about deployment dates, and there is no need to manage upgrades manually. Administrators can choose whether they want to opt in on the feature. You can learn more about this by visiting the help page.

 

Cloud upgrade for Webex Edge

Transcoded layouts for DX/MX/SX

Our previous portfolio of MX, SX and DX devices will get transcoded meeting in Webex Meetings. What this means is that our more advanced layouts, such as 4×4 and 5×5 will be available for these devices. This also allows single-screen devices to get a wide stream with up to 6 participants on-screen whenever you share content. The help article can be found here.

6 x 5 grid of profiles on Webex device

That’s it for this month – but stay tuned, as in the next few months we will be giving you loads of the features announced at WebexONE, aimed at making video meetings 10x better than in-person interactions.

Learn more

See how you can take your meeting experiences to the next level

Resources

What’s new in Webex: January 2021

Webex Training Drop- In Session [Live Class]

See What’s New in RoomOS

Still need help?

What would you like to do?

Join a Webex online meeting.

Learn more about web meetings and video conferencing.

Explore daily product demonstrations

Sign up for Webex.

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

 

Read more
Woman on computer using Webex Meetings
5 simple ways to drive Webex adoption

Getting your team to adopt a new software doesn’t have to be painful. We’ve made it easy for you. From planning to post-deployment to success sharing, we’ll show you how to implement Webex and make your team true champions for Webex within your organization.

We’ve put together a quick five-step guide to help you drive Webex adoption. You can also download our  Webex Adoption Checklist for more support before you get started.

1) Assemble your team

Get leadership on board. Previously, driving adoption of collaboration technology was a bit challenging, but last year has shown us just how important this kind of technology is for getting work done and connecting across the organization. Leadership needs to lead by example and advocate for Webex. Make it part of your daily routine!

Assemble your team and make it apart of your daily routine2) Ensure technical readiness

Future-proof success for your support team and end users by configuring Control Hub to enable the best possible experience for your Webex deployment. We’ve created Control Hub Essentials to  guide you through fully configuring your Control Hub environment for Webex success.

Prepare your technology to help:

  • Create a secure collaboration environment
  • Prevent scheduling and joining errors
  • Speed up time to onboard your end users
  • Grow adoption across your organization
  • Improve user experience and satisfaction
control hub
Click to enlarge photo

3) Create your rollout plan (and make it relatable and measurable)

To build a successful rollout plan for your organization, you’ll need to consider a few things, like “What dependencies do we have from elsewhere in the business?”, “What are our key business drivers?”, “What are our milestones and deliverables?”

We’ve created a timeline template to help onboard your team to the Webex app. We will help guide you through the questions you’ll need to ask to prepare your organization. A key part of your plan should address the value of users adopting a new tool—from HR to marketing to executive assistants, and more. Your users should be at the center of everything you do, so make sure the rollout is relatable.

Measuring success

It’s equally important to make your rollout measurable. You can measure the success of your Webex services with three metrics (but remember, it’s not just about data):

        • Usage analytics: How much the services are being used and by whom.
        • Business performance: How Webex is impacting productivity, quality, and cost.
        • Success stories: Compelling stories about how Webex has been used to solve problems and create new value.

Continue to report monthly and see how usage is growing, what areas need help, and how you can continue to drive change within your organization.

This template will help you measure your results.

Learn more about Control Hub.

4) Prepare your champions (Engage influencers early)

Identify early adopters throughout your organization to help foster adoption. You can build momentum by identifying and sharing Webex use cases with your team.

Encourage your champions to join the Webex Community to access discussion boards, live events, feature requests, and more.

Webex Community including the Webex User, IT Administrator, & Adoption Champion

5) Launch it!

Communication is a huge part of driving adoption, so you will want to tell your users what they’re in for. We’ve built out launch kits to help guide you to success.

user launch kit

You can customize each launch kit as needed to share with your users. They include:

        • A quick start guide
        • Email templates (awareness and launch messaging)
        • Product images
        • A Webex resources page
        • A Webex overview video

Now that we’ve gone over all the technical stuff, we want to remind you to make it fun! This is likely your user’s first experience with Webex, so you’ll want to make it as easy as possible to understand (and to reinforce why they chose Webex in the first place). Why not use games as part of your adoption strategy? Games are a great way to get people engaged with new products and features.

Download our gamification pack, visit the Webex store to view fun prize options for your users, and let the games begin!

Learn more

What’s new in Webex: January 2021

Fast track your adoption with Cisco Webex Control Hub

Webex Community members bring Linux support for Webex to life

Resources

Switch to the new Webex app

Ready to make the switch to the new Webex?

Still need help?

What would you like to do?

Join a Webex online meeting.

Learn more about web meetings and video conferencing.

Sign up for Webex.

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

Read more
Moderating spaces in a team
Moderating spaces in a team

Today, if you are a member of a team, you can join any space within that team. There are no restrictions. In some cases, the information of a space may be sensitive or confidential, and it might be necessary to restrict access to that space from other team members. It wasn’t possible to do this before, but from this March, it will be.

With this update to the all new Webex app, we are introducing the ability to moderate the spaces of a team. Read on to find a description of how exactly the moderation of a team’s spaces will work.

Moderating a team space

Click for larger image

You will moderate a team space in the same way you moderate a normal space today. On desktop, go to the in-space settings of a space via the cog menu, select ‘Moderate space’ and confirm. On mobile, go to the in-space settings, select ‘info’ and toggle the option to ‘Moderate’ the space. You will become the moderator of that space and have access to all moderator capabilities. You will then have the option to choose to promote other space members as moderators. Users can do this by going to the ‘People’ tab and right clicking on a user on desktop or long pressing on mobile.

In the in-space settings menu, you will have all the usual moderator settings available. On desktop, these include the ability to turn off @all mentions in the space, turn on announcement mode, archive the space, remove the space from the team, or remove the moderation of the space. Moderators are also the only ones who can add new users to the space or remove current space members. They can also control the contents of a space with the ability to delete other user’s messages. If you are the last moderator of a team space, the option to ‘Leave’ the space is disabled. You must first either unmoderate the space or promote someone else to moderate it.

With this change, you could also choose to move a normal space that is already moderated into an existing team. Webex | Move a Space into a Team explains how you do this. Note that to move a moderated space to a team, all space moderators must be members of the targeted team.

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Joining a moderated Team Space

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As mentioned earlier, moderating the spaces of a team allows for ultimate control over who can access those spaces. They are tethered to the team, but it is the space moderators who decide who can be added. Normal team members do not have the ability to self-join a moderated space, they must request to be added. Team moderators, however, have the highest level of control inside a team. This means they can self-join any moderated team space as well as promote themselves to be a moderator of that space.

Click for larger image

It will be clear which spaces are moderated when you are inside a team. Any moderated team spaces will have a key avatar in the team space list. When a normal team member selects an unjoined, moderated team space from this list, they will see a new view which explains that the space is moderated along with the space moderators’ avatars. On desktop, you can hover over those avatars to bring up their contact cards while on mobile, you can select ’view moderators list’. To join the space, the user needs to contact one of these moderators and request to be added.

Guests – who are any users outside of the team – can be added to a moderated team space by the space moderators. Guests cannot be made moderators of a moderated team space.

Team moderators

As stated above, team moderators have the highest level of control over a team and all spaces inside that team. This includes both normal spaces and moderated spaces. If you created the team, you are a team moderator. That user decides who to promote to join them in moderating that team. See Webex | Roles on Teams and Spaces for more information on roles in Webex.

Unlike ordinary team members, team moderators do not have to request to be added to a moderated team space. They see the key avatar in the team space list, but when they click on the space, they get a different view to what ordinary team members see. They see the option to ‘Join’ the space, meaning they can self-join any moderated space of a team. Once inside a moderated space, a team moderator can decide to take control of the space by promoting themselves to be a moderator. They do this by going to the ‘People’ tab and right clicking on themselves.

Click for larger image
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Moderated team space with no moderators

If a team space moderator is the last moderator of that space, they cannot voluntarily ‘Leave’ the space. The option is disabled for them until they assign another moderator. However, it is possible for a moderated team space to enter a state in which it has no moderators. There are three ways in which this can happen.

The first is if the user decides to ‘Leave’ the team, which removes them from all spaces of that team. The second is if a user is removed from the team by a team moderator. The last way is if the user is removed from the organisation and, subsequently, all their spaces. If that user happens to be the last moderator of any spaces in a team, then those spaces will enter a ‘no moderator’ state.

It’s important to note that the space left with no moderators will stay inside the team and it will stay moderated with access still restricted from other team members.

If this happens, it is up to a team moderator to resolve the situation. For the team moderators only, the affected space will pop to the top of the ‘unjoined’ spaces list, it will become bolded, and have an indicator on the space bricklet, which together alert that there is action to be taken on that space.

By clicking on the affected space, the team moderator will see text which informs them that the space has been left with no moderators as well as the option to join the space. The issue is resolved as soon as the team moderator enters the space, as in this unique scenario, they are automatically made a moderator of the space.

Click for larger image

An ordinary team member who is not in the ‘no moderator’ space will not notice this situation unless they attempt to join the affected space. Then, they will see that there are no moderators in the space and that to join, they will need to contact a team moderator.

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A team member who is inside the ‘no moderator’ space will only see that the space is left with no moderators if they click on the ‘People’ tab. In the place where moderators should be, there will be some information informing them the space has been left without moderators. In this case, they should contact a team moderator to resolve this.

Click for larger image

Allowing the moderation of team spaces unlocks a whole new world of possibilities for making and managing spaces in your organisation. It’s important to understand that this is not just one feature, but instead is the key to unlocking moderator capabilities across all spaces in your Webex app.

See what else you can do with Webex Roles on Teams and Spaces

Resources

Switch to the new Webex app

Ready to make the switch to the new Webex?

Learn more

Join a Webex online meeting

Learn more about Webex, join one of our upcoming training sessions

Explore daily product demonstrations

Read more
Webex technology ecosystem – The gold standard for video conference experiences with Webex Devices

Overview 

With so many 3rd party integration options in the video conference marketit can be hard to know at a glance what the best product integration is. What are the best room booking applications out there? What is the best LCD display that works well with Webex Devices? 

Here in Oslo, Norway, not only do we have Red Dot award-winning devices, we are also building the best meeting experiences through our new Webex Technology Ecosystem program – technically certifying partner integrations for Webex Devices. Our open platform allows our technology partners to create integrations to the Webex Platform to best solve customer use-cases. In order to provide the highest levels of security and best end-user experiences, the Webex Technology Ecosystem Program was created to validate third parties that their integration is adhering to our security, user experience, and supported API methods. In addition, the benefits of certifications include an online community and Cisco product team support, validated tests done by a 3rd party firm, AVDR, and overall helping drive down integration costs. 

We launched two logo tier designations to certifications:    

  • Webex Certified  A third party solution that has achieved the most stringent of all testing by the Webex Device Business Unit. 
  • Webex Compatible – A third party solution that meets the minimum requirements for integration.

Moving forward, there will also be a third-tier for certification which will be a self-supported knowledge base community that will soon launch on the Cisco Webex Communities portal.   

Cisco approved products & vendors 

Below you will find the solutions that have achieved certification status. Currently, there are only two Certified categories: Displays and Intelligent Workplaces. The other categories will only have Compatible logo status. As we progress, we aim at adding more categories and technology partner solutions to the Certified logo. 

Webex Device certified and compatible categories 

  • Cameras 
  • Content Experiences 
  • Collaborative Workplace 
  • Displays* 
  • Easy Join Services 
  • Intelligent Workplace* 
  • Room Booking 
  • Team Communications 
  • Workplace Analytics 

*Webex Certified logo categories 

Some of the partner solutions shown are also part of the Cisco Solutions Plus partnership program.  If you want to know more details of the certified partner solutions and categories, please visit: http://cs.co/certifiedvendors 

Certification process 

Below is the certification application journey for the Webex Technology Ecosystem for Webex Devices. As you can see it is a multi-step process to onboard. 

If you are a vendor seeking to join the Webex Technology Ecosystem program, please visit this link. 


Additional Resources 

For Customers:
Cisco Webex Integration Partners
https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collaboration/webex-rooms-integrations.html
Webex Devices Certification Vendor List
https://cs.co/certifiedvendors

For 3rd Party Vendors:
Webex Devices Certification Application
http://cs.co/webexcertapplication
Webex for Startups Program
http://cs.co/webexforstartups
Developer Resources
https://developer.cisco.com/site/roomdevices
https://developer.webex.com 

Resources

Switch to the new Webex app

Ready to make the switch to the new Webex?

Join a Webex online meeting

Learn more about Webex, join one of our upcoming training sessions

Explore daily product demonstrations

Read more
Benchmarking and market leader concept. Manager (businessman, coach, leadership) draw graph with three lines, one of them represent the best company in competition.
The AV1 video codec comes to Webex!

Thomas Davies & Sijia Chen – Webex is rolling out the AV1 video codec into production early next year. This will bring our media quality to the next level. As a founding member of AOM, Cisco is proud to introduce this advanced video technology into the real time communications market

It’s here! We have begun the process of rolling out the advanced AV1 video codec across Webex, taking video quality to the next level in the process, and replacing the aging H.264 standard.

Following on from our successful demonstration at the Big Apple conference last year, starting early next year, AV1 will be enabled on Webex when sharing high-motion content on desktop machines. This means that, when sharing the most challenging type of content into your meeting, such as a sports video, a commercial, or any type of high-motion graphics, the new AV1 codec will be available to help you share the very best quality possible.

What is AV1?

AV1 is a next-generation video codec, capable of greatly improving video quality. It was designed by the Alliance for Open Media to be a royalty-free technology, avoiding the patent wars that have stymied deployment of other advanced video codecs for nearly a decade.

Cisco is proud to be a founding member of AOM. You can find out more about how AOM and AV1 came to be – and how Cisco helped drive AV1 development – in these blogs.

What do I need to use AV1 in Webex?

Transmitting AV1 is supported when sharing screens or applications with “Optimize for motion and video” selected , and when the machine you are on has at least four cores. Receiving AV1 is supported for any machine with at least two cores. AV1 will automatically be used for sharing this type of screen content whenever all participants in a meeting support it, otherwise it will automatically revert to H.264.

How we are rolling out AV1

Adopting a brand-new video codec has an impact on every part of our Collaboration portfolio, so we are going step-by-step.

In future releases we will systematically expand where we deploy AV1. The immediate next steps are to support AV1 for other desktop share modes – either optimized for text and images, or automatically optimized. AV1 works just as well for these modes too, but we are being careful to change things gradually to make sure the user experience is perfect at each step.

Webex employs a fundamentally switched architecture, where video from each participant in a meeting is coded on their machine at different qualities and sent via a server to the other meeting participants. Initially, if some of those participants cannot support AV1 then we will automatically fall back to using H.264. Over time we will also remove these restrictions by applying ad hoc transcoding between AV1 and H.264 for those participants. This will also allow AV1 meetings to be recorded without reverting to H.264, for example.

Mobile devices will also rapidly gain hardware AV1 support, and then AV1 can be rolled out to mobile too. Although our solution is software-based and very fast on ARM as well as x86 processors, it is always better to make use of hardware codecs where possible on mobile to get the best battery life possible.

We’ll also be seeking to reduce the restrictions we have placed on core count for AV1 as we continue to optimize. In fact, remarkably, our AV1 solution uses little more CPU than H.264. However, there are a huge range of different machines out there, and again we are moving gradually to safeguard user experience.

Cisco’s AV1 solution

Powering our solution is a super-optimized software encoder. In designing it we had two goals: to provide significant benefits over H.264 and to do so at the smallest possible extra computational cost.

This is a pretty tall order. In non-real-time applications like streaming, it’s acceptable to increase encoding complexity by 2, 4, even 10 times in order to reap the benefits of a new standard. In real time communications, that’s not true: the machines our customers use, although getting more powerful over time, are also doing more and more.

The Cisco AV1 encoder is flexible, and it is designed to operate within a similar CPU footprint to H.264 and provide bigger quality improvements at lower bit rates when quality is even more precious.

Connecting our meetings, our server architecture must negotiate multiple codecs, resolutions and bitrates to suit all participants and respond to changing network conditions resiliently.

Our software also makes use of VideoLAN’s extremely fast dav1d open source AV1 decoder, a remarkable effort, which has had an enormous impact on accelerating the deployment of AV1.

The future: media quality and Cisco

This year has seen a steep increase  in usage of Collaboration technology, and people depend on it as never before. Media quality is central to improving our experience, and to deepening the connections we can make in our virtual lives, during the current crisis and beyond. AV1 is one part of a multi-pronged strategy to develop higher and higher quality real-time meeting experiences – in short, to make them 10x better. The aim is for AV1 to become the new normal, but also that the media that it encodes to become ever richer, more detailed, and more vibrant.

About the authors

Thomas Davies is a Principal Engineer in the Collaboration Technology Group. He has worked in satellite networking, RF communications, and broadcasting, but has spent most of his career on video and codecs. He has worked for Cisco for over 8 years on creating the next generation of collaboration experiences.

Sijia Chen is Technical Leader in the Collaboration Technology Group. She works on video-related features, including video codec algorithm design and implementations as well as video quality assessments and metrics. She has worked for Cisco for over 12 years on Webex Media Engine, which serves multiple Webex production lines.

Click here to learn more about the offerings from Webex and to sign up for a free account. 

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4x4 grid layout
What’s new in RoomOS- December

This December, you can choose to work from wherever with our new Custom Background feature. Maybe The Bahamas sounds tempting? Read on to learn more about the Custom Background feature, among many other innovations.

Custom background upload

The Webex Desk Pro already has the virtual background feature, where your background is replaced by an image, but these images are pre-selected by Cisco. Want to work from the beach? Your cabin? Times Square? The opportunities are (almost…) endless with the new custom background upload feature. You can now upload your own custom images! We provide some guidance about what works, and users can go into settings.webex.com and upload up to 3 images that they can later select as their own virtual background.

4×4 Grid Layout

Tuning into body language and mimic is an essential part of effective communication. And good communication on the other hand, is essential for successful collaboration. That’s why we are super excited to offer you a 4×4 grid layout – this way you can meet face-to-face with more of your colleagues, even when all of you work remotely. 4 rows and 4 columns of participants are displayed on your Cisco Webex Room Series device, or your Webex Desk Pro. This is a step towards bringing you a 5×5 grid layout – which is just around the corner.

4x4 grid layout

Floating content bar

This is a new user interface element to make it easier to find and use certain features. The new floating content bar simplifies the journey towards annotation, content sharing, and using the touch redirect feature to connect your laptop to a Webex Board or Desk Pro and control your laptop screen directly from the device’s touch screen.

floating content bar in RoomOS

Co-host

When you are the host of a Webex Meeting, you’re basically the boss. Some features, like recording and Webex Assistant can only be enabled by the host. However, sometimes the meeting host is busy talking or presenting, or they might have to leave the meeting earlier than planned. This is where our new feature, co-host, comes into play. The co-host can perform the same actions as the host. What’s even better, is that your Cisco Webex Rooms device can also act as a co-host, so you can record, end the meeting or use Webex Assistant from the device, all without having a meeting client open. If you want to learn more, you can check out the help article.

Titles in name labels

I’m sure you’ve all grown to love our Face Recognition feature. It helps people in your organization to get to know each other better, and makes it easier for you to remember names – hey, I don’t blame you! We’re all busy. Well, we’ve taken this one step further by integrating Face Recognition with titles. Titles are job description showing under your name label. This is retrieved from the active directory of your company; however, end users can change this by going into settings.webex.com and edit the description field. Click here to learn more.

Titles in name labesl in RoomOS

Control Hub – Bulk Configurations

Cisco Webex Control Hub is the central hub for all your Webex services, including your Webex Rooms devices. Through Control Hub you get access to rich insights and analytics, and it’s also an easy way to manage and configure your Rooms devices. We recently added support for Webex Edge for Devices customers, so both full cloud and hybrid devices can take advantage of the new bulk functionality. What is the bulk functionality, you might ask? It is built on our open API’s, and allows our customer to select as few or as many devices as they want, and configure one or many attributes to the selected devices. Read the help article to learn more.

That’s it for December, and we’ll be back In the new year with even more innovations. Until next time!

See how you can take your meeting experiences to the next level

Resources

What’s new in Webex: December 2020

Webex Training Drop- In Session [Live Class]

See What’s New in RoomOS

Still need help?

What would you like to do?

Join a Webex online meeting.

Learn more about web meetings and video conferencing.

Explore daily product demonstrations

Sign up for Webex.

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

Read more
webexone
Three reasons to register for WebexOne: December 8-9

WebexOne is a don’t miss event! This is your last chance to sign up before the event starts.

Here are three reasons you should do so:

1.It’s digital (and Free).

You heard that right. It’s easier to attend than ever before. You can tune in to the event from the comfort of your home office, or really, anywhere you are.

2. Amal Clooney and RuPaul Charles (+ dozens of other thought leaders and speakers)

We’re sure you’ve heard of them. One is known for her work as a Human Rights Expert, and the other as a Pop Culture Icon and host/executive producer of Ru Paul’s Drag Race. These famous luminaries will be joining the event to talk about their careers and how they play a role in inspiring the future of work.

In addition, you’ll get a chance to hear from Webex experts, customers, partners, analysts, and other thought leaders on the direction they see the future of work headed. After the keynotes, you can join sessions around seamless collaboration, customer experience, and channel partners.

3. the all new Webex

This is our premier digital collaboration conference and with that comes, drum roll, please… an all new Webex. You won’t want to miss the announcements and discussions around new features that WILL create a better and easier future of work. Whether you’re back in the office, or working remotely, the new Webex is for you.

Explore the power and magic of collaboration. Check out more here. And don’t forget to register, today.

Learn More

Top 10 reasons I’m excited about WebexOne

Announcing WebexOne: Cisco’s Premier Digital Collaboration Conference

Looking for Best of the Best Bragging Rights? Nominations are Open for the 2nd Annual Webex Awards!

Still need help?

Join a Webex online meeting

Learn more about Webex, join one of our upcoming training sessions

Explore daily product demonstrations

Sign up for Webex

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

Read more
Small startup business owner concept. two successful young baristas women standing in bar counter in cafe. happy coffeehouse waitresses in aprons smiling confidently to camera in coffee shop.
5 questions small business owners should ask themselves before choosing a video conferencing solution

Choosing the right solution for your small business

With the advent of widespread remote work, collaboration has become more complex. Instead of gathering in a physical conference room, meetings are now virtual. How do you choose the right solution for your small business and give your teams the tools they need to succeed?

Unproductive meetings are a time and energy suck. When conducted remotely, they have the potential to be even more disorienting. The right video conferencing solution can make meetings productive again.

5 things to look for in a video conferencing solution

Before purchasing a conference solution for audio/video calls and meetings, there are some questions to be answered. Look carefully at each of your prospective solutions and as a buyer, consider a customer value management approach to see if they support your business needs. Some features may include:

  1. In-browser functionality

Many video conferencing solutions require users to have an account or download an app. That’s just one more hoop to jump through and one more login to remember. Look for options that support in-browser use and have a fast uptime instead.

When you can simply invite people to a meeting with a quick email and they can get straight into the meeting by clicking a link, you cut down on time waiting for people to find their login or request a new password, or download and launch an app.

Cisco Webex Meetings has a fast browser-based interface, providing easy access for desktop users. Your participants can also join via tablet, phone, or any standards-based video conferencing system. The goal is to provide unparalleled video quality from anywhere your team member is located, on any device they choose to utilize. You can easily customize the meeting layout for best viewing and usability.

Best of all, there’s no download or configuration required, and users can easily jump into meetings over the phone with the Call Me feature. You can schedule, start, and join new meetings directly from your toolbar for added flexibility and convenience.

  1. Collaboration features

The ability to actively share and collaborate during a conference can enhance video calls and teamwork. Look for solutions that allow the following functionalities:

  • Screen sharing. Being able to show, not tell, can streamline training processes and make it easy for groups to follow along as you demonstrate how to use a new tool or application.
  • File sharing. Dropping a document into your meeting for everyone to access saves time and effort over having to create and send an email blast with the attached file or link.
  • Instant messaging. Having a built-in chat allows participants to ask questions without interrupting the flow of a presentation and helps preserve a record of participation.

Webex Meetings facilitates screen sharing, file sharing, and real-time chat during video conferencing calls to help foster collaboration and build stronger teams.

  1. Speech-to-text capability

Being able to revisit what happened in a conference call can give your video conferences lasting organizational impact. Look for features like audio/visual recording, closed captioning, real-time transcription and note taking. Being able to share a past video conference with someone who missed it is easier than trying to recap later.

Webex Meetings can record each conference, provide closed captions, facilitate note-taking, and deliver accurate transcriptions that you can download, save, and share as needed. When you need to revisit an older conference, you can use targeted keywords to search transcripts for sections of interest.

  1. Cost vs. value

While cost is certainly a factor for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), it shouldn’t be the deciding factor when choosing how to handle your video conferencing call needs. All options aren’t created equal, and it’s better to pay a little more for a video conference solution that meets the needs of your team.

  • Quality. Read reviews and find out which solutions repeatedly get praise for clear audio and smooth video feeds.
  • Resolution. Does the picture quality suffer on certain devices? You need a solution that doesn’t just work only on desktop or only on mobile.
  • Security. How are your calls encrypted? Who handles the speech to text function and provides recordings, transcriptions, and closed captioning?
  • Support. When you’re having issues, waiting in a queue or having to email a support team isn’t a viable solution. You need help that is available and accessible in real time.

Webex Meetings video conferencing provides clear audio and high-resolution video, along with in-house encryption, recording, captioning, and transcription for a secure experience. The support team is continually available to troubleshoot any potential issues with you in real time.

  1. Integrations

How well will the video conferencing solution integrate with tools you already use? Ask the following questions when considering adding video conferencing to your array of small business solutions:

  • Can you seamlessly merge your contact list, email client, and calendars to facilitate meeting invites?
  • Will you be able to readily access files from your favorite file-share and storage locations?
  • Is the solution compatible with both Microsoft and Apple tools and applications?
  • What about chat and communication platforms?
  • Can you use the video conference solution inside your preferred small business customer relationship management (CRM) platform?

Being able to continue using the other solutions your team is familiar with will make video conferencing easier and more intuitive.

Webex Meetings smoothly integrates with Google Cloud, Microsoft, Apple, Box, Salesforce, and Slack to complete your suite of small business tools while fostering scalability and adoption.

Video conferencing can give your SMB a strong strategic advantage. Learn more by getting started with a free trial today.

Resources

Control Hub Administration — Configuring the Essentials Part 1 [Live Class]

Scheduling Webex Events [Live Class]

What’s new in Webex: November 2020

Learn More

Small business innovation and how you can learn from it

Choosing the best small business tools for 2020

How do I expand my small-scale business without capital?

Still need help?

What would you like to do?

Join a Webex online meeting

Learn more about web meetings and video conferencing

What’s new in Webex Meetings 41.1 [Live Class]

Sign up for Webex

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance

Read more
Best cybersecurity practices for parents

As a parent, what can you do to make sure your children are as safe as possible from cybersecurity threats while attending school remotely?

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) may have ended, but its lessons about how to stay safe online are worth taking to heart throughout the year.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many previously in-person activities are now virtual, relying on video conferencing, VoIP calling, and screen sharing as substitutes for face-to-face discussions. School systems throughout the U.S. have shifted all or at least most of their classes online. This new normal raises the stakes for proper cybersecurity measures in the home, where many children now receive instruction.

Let’s look at five immediate steps you can take to curtail risk and promote a more productive, safer online experience.

  1. Help your kids manage their passwords

CISA recommends using the longest permissible password for every account to prevent guessing. There are several ways to create a sufficiently lengthy and unique password for each login:

  • Let a web browser (Apple Safari, Google Chrome, etc.) generate and store it for you.
  • Use a third-party service such as 1Password to do the same.
  • Come up with your own passwords by using phrases, titles, and abbreviations, interspersed with special characters and varying capitalization as needed, and manage them with one of the above tools.

In all cases, you’ll want to have some sort of auto-fill enabled so that your children do not have to manually enter each of these passwords. Train them on how to generally use the password manager, including the use of the PIN, master password, or biometric credentials that may be needed to fill each password.

  1. Set up and enable parental controls

All major operating systems include some form of parental controls, which allow you to manage the applications, sites, and services your children have access to. For example, Chromebooks running Google Chrome OS can have Family Link enabled.

Family Link can be configured to prevent private browsing in Chrome, block certain types of content, and limit which permissions a child can grant to individual websites (such as camera, microphone, and location access). These features are also customizable.

Similar services exist across iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS. Basically, all of these parental control solutions can disable incognito/private browsing like Family Link does, while also providing granular activity reporting and management of site/app access.

  1. Educate them about phishing

Phishing is one of the most effective types of cyberattacks. A 2020 survey from email security firm GreatHorn found that 36% of respondents received risky emails on a daily basis.* A separate Barracuda Networks report found a huge surge in phishing campaigns as attackers take advantage of high interest in recent times, safety measure announcements, and potential treatments.**

Pre-teen boy lying on sofa using laptop, dad sitting beside him, mum and sister in the backgroundBeing able to identify and delete any phishing emails that automatic spam filters don’t catch is especially important in remote learning environments, due to the sheer volume of email correspondence sent to both parents and students. Accordingly, phishing knowledge is a key skill for everyone in your household to acquire. To lower the risk of phishing, be sure to:

  • Note any unusual spellings or grammar in email subject lines and bodies.
  • Avoid clicking any links or downloading any attachments from unknown senders.
  • Look for odd sender email addresses, for instance ones from non-.edu domains.
  • Add seemingly risky senders to a block list, so their future messages don’t show up.
  • Ensure that spam filtering settings on your child’s email account are properly configured.
  1. Keep an eye on software updates

Outdated applications and operating systems are security risks, as they might contain known vulnerabilities and/or be incompatible with certain forms of protection. Even if your child isn’t aware yet of these risks, you can still keep them safe by making sure that automatic software updates are enabled.

Depending on the platform and the type of update, the update may happen in the background (in which case, no action is required) or require a restart or the entry of an administrator password to proceed. Check periodically to see if updates are available or require any intervention on your part.

  1. Enable two-factor authentication

Sensitive applications such as those for video conferencing and voice communications should be protected with multiple layers of security. Two-factor authentication (2FA) is especially important, as it requires any successful login to consist of both a correct username-password combination and an additional factor such as a one-time code, security question, or confirmation on a separate device.

NCSAM 2020 has focused heavily on the role of 2FA and the other precautions highlighted here. You can access their full set of cybersecurity tips on this page.

Want to learn more about Webex and all its features and the value it can provide? Reach out for more information or get started for free.

Learn more

What healthcare providers should do this National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Preparing for screen sharing: How to reduce risk when sharing your screen

Security and compliance realities for remote financial service workers

4 ways to ensure your video conferences are secure

Still need help?

What would you like to do?

Join a Webex online meeting.

Learn more about web meetings and video conferencing.

What’s new in Webex Meetings 41.1 [Live Class]

Sign up for Webex.

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

Sources

*GreatHorn Annual Survey Report, 2020

**667% spike in email phishing attacks due to coronavirus factors

Read more
How to maintain morale and emphasize mental health with remote workforces

Supporting remote workers’ mental health and boosting morale

As in-office teams have gone remote, they’ve faced no shortage of challenges in maintaining their productivity in new environments — not to mention their sanity.

Even before a widespread shift to telecommuting, remote workers routinely faced challenges in fending off loneliness and creating high-quality connections with colleagues and customers from afar.

In 2018, Harvard Business Review chronicled then-current research on the effects of remote work on employee isolation and burnout:

  • One paper found that telecommuters exerted additional effort when away from the office, a form of “intensification” that could stretch projects over longer periods of time and induce burnout.
  • Isolation was flagged as a major health risk in a presentation given at the American Psychological Association. Meanwhile, Buffer’s 2018 State of Remote Work survey found that loneliness topped the list of remote work difficulties.

Fast forward to 2020 and the same challenges are present, if not more intensified by external factors. The 2020 edition of Buffer’s survey found “loneliness” again at the top of the most cited struggles, tied with “collaboration and communication.”

Depressed young man checking home finance

How managers can alleviate mental stress

What can managers, in particular, do to alleviate the mental stress on their teams? Let’s explore a few of the most common tactics.

Regular check-ins

It’s not enough to just do a one-time check-in with an employee to see how they’re holding up. Instead, try the following:

  • Make a schedule and stick to it. The exact timeframe will vary depending on the department. For example, engineering teams may need more frequent meetings than others, due to the continuous, iterative nature of methodologies like DevOps. On the other hand, monthly check-ins can work in other contexts, like keeping up-to-date with people you don’t interact with day in and day out.
  • Mix it up when appropriate. Although some meetings will be strictly focused on work, you have room to expand the subject matter and format of check-ins in other contexts. Virtual coffees or team happy hours may be a useful addition to your schedule. These gatherings let you get a sense of how workers are feeling and provide emotional support. Focusing on mental health during check-ins is also useful no matter the larger topic, as dealing with anxiety, depression, and overload can be tough when remote.
  • Create an agenda. No matter the type of meeting you’re setting up, it doesn’t hurt to have an agenda, if only for your own sake. Make a list of what will be covered so that you can keep the check-in on track. For more formal meetings, share the agenda along with any collateral (such as forms to fill out) well in advance of the actual meeting time.
  • Provide opportunities for development. Just because an employee is remote does not mean their professional development can’t continue. Virtual check-ins via video conferencing platforms and screen sharing software offer good forums for reviewing progress and looking ahead to how the employee might expand their skill set.

Mental health days

In May 2020, Cisco offered employees a company-wide “Day for Me” for purposes of everyone’s well-being. This occasion — an opportunity for the company to take a “collective break” — continued Cisco’s longer-term commitment to mental health, both internally and externally. Cisco leadership has, at other junctures, sent out email updates on mental health and contributed to the ramping-up of telehealth services enabled by Cisco Webex.

More broadly, other organizations may benefit from encouraging their employees to prioritize their mental health by taking advantage of vacation or PTO days and not letting their work intrude into odd hours. Even on days when employees are working, regular breaks and a consistent routine are essential in recharging from the sometimes overwhelming stress of balancing work with ongoing background anxieties.

These techniques help reset the mind and also reduce the eyestrain of looking at screens all day. Consider getting up at least every 20 to 30 minutes, if feasible, and taking the occasion to look at somewhere other than a phone or PC.

Real-time collaboration

One reason that remote employees may feel isolated is that the most common forms of collaboration are very impersonal. Email exchanges can happen without the recipients ever knowing what each other looks or sounds like. And yet enormous time blocks of each work week are consumed composing, responding to, and generally managing email.

In contrast, real-time collaboration solutions with features for video, audio, and screen sharing can provide a much more personalized experience that is good not only for productivity but also for staving off feelings of isolation and burnout. Real-time collaboration tools offer:

  • Crystal-clear video to get insight into body language and reactions.
  • Crisp audio for having an easy-to-follow conversation from anywhere.
  • Screen sharing alongside video and audio for in-depth walkthroughs and demos.
  • Integrated messaging for synchronous communication and content sharing.

Add it all up, and the experience is more engaging than relying on email alone. Webex can be the centerpiece of your mental health-conscious and inclusive remote work experience.

Learn more by getting started for free.

Learn more

The workday: how it’s changed, but also stayed the same

Adjusting to a new normal: The shift to remote work

Securing users and devices in Webex

Still need help?

What would you like to do?

Join a Webex online meeting.

Learn more about web meetings and video conferencing.

Making a Good Impression on Video [Live Class]

Sign up for Webex.

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

Sources

*Helping Remote Workers Avoid Loneliness and Burnout

Read more
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Increasing the productivity of your employees

Productivity is a central concern for every business, regardless of size, industry, or history.

More productive employees generally equate to better business results, which is why increasing productivity is an important consideration for managers, supervisors, and leaders. Giving your employees the tools to do more and empowering them to feel confident in that ability can lead to some significant improvements. These actions are especially important as more staff members work from home, whether on a fixed or temporary basis.

Consider this advice as you look for ways to boost employee productivity.

Offer the right tools and support

Technology has not only enabled a wide variety of employees to work from home, but also allows these staff members to capably and dependably fulfill their professional responsibilities. Making sure your teams have the tools they need to perform to the best of their abilities is a simple step that supports productivity in the long run.

There are a number of factors to consider when it comes to ensuring staff are equipped to handle anything that comes their way:

  • An internet connection is generally the responsibility of a renter or homeowner. However, there may be situations where staff working on projects that regularly eat up bandwidth could benefit from an arrangement that helps subsidize the cost of upgraded service and reduces the time spent sending and receiving files. This could include paying for part or all of the cost of an Ethernet connection or a mesh network to reduce slowdown and boost performance.
  • Hardware provided by your company, like a computer or mobile device, must support the programs employees need to complete their duties. Making sure they aren’t losing valuable time to slow processing speeds or becoming frustrated by error-prone hardware can definitely pay off. The basic tools needed for video conferencing – a camera and microphone – should also be considered, as this option is increasingly popular and effective for those working from home.
  • As with hardware, software must also align with the expectations placed on employees and empower them to work confidently and quickly. While specific needs often vary, videoconferencing software helps address a common need among nearly all remote employees. Be sure to select a program that supports a rich and immersive environment. Keep an eye out for features like virtual whiteboards, automated transcriptions, and other features that enable creativity, collaboration, and problem solving.

Image of young pleased happy cheerful cute beautiful business woman sit indoors in office using laptop computer listening music with earphones.

Focus on feedback

Communication about performance, upcoming projects, company initiatives, and many other important topics allows employees to feel connected to their specific roles and the larger company as a whole. Providing feedback to staff is a foundational part of the manager’s role in an organization. And as more and more employees work from home on a temporary or ongoing basis, it’s even more important to emphasize this type of communication.

Actionable feedback – the kind that employees can digest and then apply to their next relevant task – is vital. While it may be positive, negative, or a mix of the two, ensure your staff can draw meaningful, personal conclusions from such discussions and understand how to incorporate feedback into their work.

This is another area where the right video conferencing solution can go a long way toward boosting productivity. Managers can add more value to feedback by highlighting relevant documents or statistics through a screen share, for example, than they could on a phone call alone.

HR Daily Advisor highlighted how goal setting and performance analysis leads to more informed and productive staff.* Creating a rich environment for sharing feedback tied to goals and performance means less uncertainty and a clearer picture for how to move forward. Read how video improves communication during any conference call.

Streamline meetings and emails

Meetings and messages with a clear purpose and intent are invaluable to the regular and positive operation of a business. However, too many email notifications and time spent away from the task at hand can disrupt staff and reduce their productivity over time.

Inc. contributor Chad Halvorson highlighted excessive meetings and emails as two factors that can drive down productivity.** Even when organized or sent with the best of intentions, these events can be a distraction when they spring up too frequently.

Managers should consolidate messaging when possible. A message sent each day — or every few days  — with various notes that are important but not urgent is less disruptive than several emails throughout each day. A standing weekly team meeting that covers upcoming needs and past performance is more predictable and easier to fit into a schedule than several ad-hoc get-togethers about individual issues. Employees will have more productive time to focus on individual work and will still be actively involved in communications about their roles and many other concerns central to their performance.

There will always be situations where it’s imperative to immediately get in touch with an employee or bring a group of them together. Drawing a line between emergencies and something that can wait until the end of the day or the next team meeting is where managers can take an active role in enabling more productive work each day.

Increasing productivity can feel like an especially complicated problem for managers and company leaders. The good news is there are clear steps your organization can take to set employees up for success and help them do more of what they’re best at – even when some or all are working remotely.

Cisco Webex supports effective communication with secure and reliable connections for one-on-one and group meetings, some of the most important building blocks of increased productivity.

Get started with your free plan today.

Learn more

How to increase remote employee productivity during the holiday season with Webex Teams

Why remote work can be more productive work

What’s new in Webex: November 2020

Still need help?

Join a Webex online meeting

Learn more about Webex, join one of our upcoming training sessions

Overview of Webex Meetings [Live Class]

Explore daily product demonstrations

Sign up for Webex

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

Sources

**11 Changes You Can Make to Boost Employee Productivity in 1 Week

*5 Ways to Increase Employee Productivity

Read more
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Top 10 reasons I’m excited about WebexOne

It wasn’t that long ago when Top 10 lists were all the rage, a staple of late-night television. We’ve all played the game – top 10 beaches to visit, top 10 dog breeds, top 10 creative uses for pumpkin spice, and so on. We’ve also seen lists become popular on social media – who didn’t play #FirstSevenJobs? So, with a nod to our love of lists, I’m sharing the top 10 reasons I’m excited about WebexOne.

#10

It’s 100% digital

No planes, trains, or automobiles. Simply find a comfortable space in your home (or office if you’re among those lucky few to be back), click into the streaming platform, and watch the magic happen!

#9

Möchten Sie die Konferenz auf Deutsch hören?

Why, yes, you can! We’re localizing the event in 6 different languages* to make it easier than ever to see and understand the latest Webex innovations. In fact, we’re broadcasting in regionally friendly time zones for attendees in Asia-Pac, Japan, and Europe. Visit webexone.com to learn more!

*German, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, and Traditional Chinese

#8

Sessions for everyone

After the keynotes on both days, you’ll have the option of joining sessions with more on our Webex innovations, panels with customers, and deep dive learning opportunities. Sessions are focused on seamless collaboration, customer experience, and channel partners. Plus, we’re sprinkling in some surprise and delight moments you won’t want to miss!

#7

Awards

At WebexOne, we’ll be celebrating the amazing things our customers and partners do with Webex. Tune in to see how others are transforming their business, achieving high adoption rates, creating a video-first environment, and much more. While nominations are closed, check out the award categories here.

#6

Technology Partner Integrations

You’ll hear how some of our key technology partners – Box, Dropbox, Salesforce, and Facebook – enhance the Webex ecosystem. This is one more example of how Webex fits into your everyday work life and delivers magical moments.

#5

The Future of Work

Throughout the two days, you’ll hear from CXOs, analysts, and thought leaders on what they see for the future for work. They’ll offer inspiring views on how they are re-imagining work in a post-pandemic world, exploring new ways of working, how to thrive in a hybrid environment, and what we can expect over the next five years.

#4

Chuck Robbins & Jeetu Patel

Two heavy hitters open the WebexOne conference – unveiling big news and sharing the latest innovations for Webex. Chuck even hinted at what you’ll see recently with CNBC’s Jim Cramer. Chuck and Jeetu will share the vision for Collaboration, and how we’ll continue to be there when the world needs to work.

#3

Customer stories from IBM, the Dallas Cowboys, Under Armour, T-Mobile, and many more!

At WebexOne, you’ll hear from our amazing customers on how they use Webex – the platform, devices, app, calling, and even contact center. Customer stories are one of my favorite things – and it feels good to know we can help them stay connected, and keep their businesses thriving. I think you’ll love hearing their stories, too!

#2

Luminary speakers Amal Clooney and RuPaul Charles

“Amal Clooney and RuPaul stand for very specific things around equality in the world; around making sure that human rights are protected, and ensuring you can be different and be proud of the fact that you’re different,” said Jeetu Patel in a recent interview. “There is no one better to actually carry the message forward in a very, very symbolic way.” #micdrop

#1

The all new Webex!

What we’re unveiling at WebexOne will blow your socks off! From new features to make hybrid work better and easier, to new devices that work seamlessly with Webex, you’ll see the magic that comes from building a platform that delivers 10x better experiences than in-person interactions.

I think I’m even more excited to attend WebexOne than before – and I hope you are too. Register today – I’ll be curious to hear your top 10 takeaways afterwards.

Stay safe, be healthy, and we’ll see you at WebexOne!

Oh, if you were wondering, my #FirstSevenJobs were 1. making flower garlands and selling them in the local market; 2. Software engineering intern at Wipro; 3. Software engineering intern at IBM; 4. Software engineer at HP; 5. Director of Marketing at HP; 6. VP Marketing at Juniper; and 7. VP Marketing at CA (now Broadcom). I guess that means I’m on my 8th job now as the CMO of Cisco Webex!

Learn More

Announcing WebexOne: Cisco’s Premier Digital Collaboration Conference

Looking for Best of the Best Bragging Rights? Nominations are Open for the 2nd Annual Webex Awards!

Still need help?

Join a Webex online meeting

Learn more about Webex, join one of our upcoming training sessions

Explore daily product demonstrations

Sign up for Webex

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

Read more
two women elbow bumping in front of offices
The workday: how it’s changed, but also stayed the same

The rise of remote work changing the way co-workers communicate and collaborate

The workplace has evolved immensely over the past couple decades in the wake of technological advancements and changing attitudes toward what is considered a “normal” workday.

As technologies emerged like email, followed by team messaging tools and video conferencing capabilities, professionals gained greater abilities to communicate with others quickly and seamlessly without ever being in the same room.

At the same time, the rise of remote work has changed the way co-workers collaborate. As increasing numbers of professionals work remotely rather than commute into a shared office space, colleagues have to learn how to utilize technologies to keep connected. Let’s take a look at how video, project management, and team collaboration tools can change the structure of your workday.

Bringing the workplace to employees, wherever they are

About one-fifth of remote workers say collaboration and communication are the biggest struggles that result from their remote work arrangements, according to The 2020 State of Remote Work report from Buffer. Software that brings the workplace to employees, no matter where they’re located, can help people communicate about their projects.*

As more people join the remote workforce, from all corners of the globe, the “workday” has evolved from the set of hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Instead, people in various time zones and on differing preferred work schedules log in on their own time, complete their work and utilize asynchronous communication to collaborate.

Email continues to be the primary means of sharing information between colleagues; 95% of workers say this is their main mode of internal communications, according to a survey by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and theEMPLOYEEapp by APPrise Mobile.**

Email is a top choice for teams with dispersed team members, as the receipt of an email does not require an immediate response. Communication can take place over the course of hours or days to relay information needed for a project.

young man sitting on a bed wearing jogging pants and tshirt video conferencing on a cell phone wearing ear buds

Meanwhile, other methods of communication have risen in popularity. Workplace messaging programs allow people to quickly send messages, which can either be responded to promptly or whenever is most convenient for the recipient.

Collaboration software that allows people to review documents and files, then make comments for their colleagues to see later on, also enable everyone to share their knowledge and thoughts on a specific item. Other team members can then respond and contribute their piece on their own time, too. Even better, it’s all stored in one place.

Additionally, video conferencing calls are important. While having everyone on a video call at the same time is the best case scenario, people who have overlapping meetings or time zone constraints can listen to recording functionalities allow those who missed to listen to recordings of the call.

But at the heart of the workplace, some things haven’t changed too much

It’s undeniable that the workplace has changed quite a lot thanks to evolving technology and changing trends in how people communicate at work. But, in many ways, the workplace has remained the same – and advanced technology allows people to maintain certain normalcies, even though the definitions of “workplace” and “work day” have changed. Three specific ways the workplace has not changed despite the many advancements include:

  • The need for real-time communication.
  • The value of workplace friendships.
  • The risk of burnout.

For example, though varied work schedules are becoming more normalized, there is still great value in real-time, face-to-face communication. Live video conferencing allows people to connect and communicate in a similar way as they would in-person in the same room. Read How video improves communication during any conference call

Even when recorded meetings can suffice in most cases, there’s still immense value to meeting in real-time to answer questions and bring up challenges pertaining to a work task.

Workplace camaraderie matters

Another aspect of the workplace that has not changed is the importance of camaraderie among team members.

Humans are social beings, and when team members view one another as friends as well as colleagues, it benefits the whole company; data from Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report shows this.*** Organizations that have a high number of workers who agree with the statement “I have a best friend at work” have fewer safety incidents, higher profit overall, and more engaged customers.

Workers who work remotely say loneliness is one of their biggest challenges, according to The 2020 State of Remote Work report from Buffer. Video can help out with this, as team leaders can create virtual happy hours, conversations over coffee, or other events that bring remote workers together socially.

women on computer sitting on couch wearing glasses and looking out the window with a lonely look on her face

Finally, the risk of burnout is still a concern to workers, even when they’re logging in from their home, favorite café, or somewhere else. Because employees can access their work emails, check and send messages to colleagues and conduct other activities anytime, it becomes even more difficult to unplug and relax.

In fact, according to Buffer’s report, 18% of respondents said not being able to unplug from work is among their biggest challenges in the remote work lifestyle. Taking breaks is critical for staying mentally healthy, productive and engaged when it is time to get work done. Employees who work non-traditional schedules should keep in mind that they must also take breaks from their workloads.

Remote work schedules can be a big perk for employees. However, it’s essential to understand how to create team unity, even when schedules don’t always align. Find time to communicate around the clock.

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Why remote work can be more productive work

Adjusting to a new normal: The shift to remote work 

Delighting remote workers: Why user experience is important 

Still need help?

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Learn more about Webex, join one of our upcoming training sessions

Take a live session on What’s New in Webex Meeting 40.12

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Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

Sources

*The 2020 state of remote work

**Trends in Communications Industry Show Companies Slow to Adopt New Technologies

***State of the American Workplace Report

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Institutional telework guidelines to consider for educators

The current state of the world has dramatically changed how educators deliver lessons and interact with their students. Because the traditional in-person classroom is suddenly, and at least temporarily, a high-risk environment for virus transmission, virtual alternatives such as video conferencing have received renewed attention for learning.

Running a virtual classroom is not inherently easy. For many students and instructors, distance learning is a major adjustment and very different from how they normally operate. What can teachers do to make the new experience as accessible and productive as possible for everyone involved? Let’s look at five basic tips for getting started.

1) Create guidelines for video conferencing use

First things first: Select one video conferencing platform and stick to it. With numerous options out there, it’s easy for participants to become accustomed to a certain feature set, even if it’s not the easiest one to use or the most secure. Conversely, jumping between different platforms on a regular basis can be disorienting and productivity-draining. Settling on a single platform is ideal.

Some jurisdictions have already drawn up lists of video conferencing platforms deemed acceptable for K-12 educational use. Check these guidelines first. If nothing is currently recommended, evaluate the widely available options for performance, security, and ease of use, and select an option that students can easily access.

From there, the next steps involve setting more granular policies on how the video solution should be used, including guidance for faculty and students on:

  • Use cases for group as well as one-on-one scenarios.
  • The expected time commitment each day or week.
  • Any requirements for attire or background imagery.
  • Rules on recording and distributing the session afterward.

grade school kid doing remote learning

2) Take all feasible security precautions

Video conference solutions have become more prominent targets of cyberattacks over time. This trend makes sense, considering the rising usage of these platforms and the sensitive data often exchanged on them, including in educational contexts.

One common form of video conference-oriented attack is for someone to join a meeting with a public meeting ID and no security controls, and then proceed to disrupt the call. Fortunately, there are some reliable precautions for preventing these scenarios:

  • First, do not share a meeting ID, PIN, or other key identifying piece of information on a public forum, such as social media or a personal email account, if possible.
  • Require a password every meeting. Some platforms may provide automatic password enforcement for certain types of joining, but make sure you cover all possible routes.
  • Get familiar with meeting controls. For example, if someone is introducing a lot of background noise or otherwise disrupting the session, know how to mute their audio.
  • Make sure the platform itself has adequate built-in security capabilities, such as end-to-end encryption and reliance on well-secured data centers.

3) Be careful with recording in particular and privacy in general

Remote learning via video conference brings the classroom directly into students’ homes, which has big implications for their privacy. Students and their parents/guardians should have the ability to opt out of being recorded or on camera. Moreover, it may be prudent to record conversations only when students have their own audio muted and video turned off.

Done properly, recording a lesson can be useful for helping students return to classroom materials later on, such as when preparing for an exam or doing an assignment. On Webex, you can also edit your recording before distributing it, to make it more engaging and easier to follow.

child girl is engaged in dancing, aerobics in online video chat with laptop, girl dancing in front of laptop camera.concept of remote sports and dancing in children, children's sports sections online.

4) Follow meeting etiquette and encourage students to do the same

Running a smooth video conference takes some practice, especially in the context of a K-12 virtual classroom in which students are still adjusting to online learning. The best practices for each instructor and their classes will vary, but a few generally reliable tips include:

  • Lock the video focus on the instructor so that it doesn’t change when someone else becomes the active speaker.
  • Encourage participants to go on mute when not speaking, or mute them yourself if they don’t know how.
  • Use headphones or earbuds with a built-in microphone to improve audio quality.
  • Allow attendees to turn off their cameras (and show them how) if they don’t need video at the moment.

5) Take advantage of other features for collaboration

Video conferencing platforms are much more than ways to see other meeting participants on camera. They also come with high-quality audio (via VoIP, which is crisper than a traditional phone call) and features such as instant messaging and screen sharing.

It’s important to know how to leverage these capabilities without letting them distract students and detract from the meeting’s focus. Screen sharing in particular can be helpful for keeping everyone engaged – you can show a slide presentation or other document, play videos and animations, or conduct a walkthrough of a key workflow on screen.

Video-led learning is still in its early days overall. Gradually, K-12 educators will likely come up with more uniform best practices for how to effectively reach students, respect their privacy, and provide meaningful instruction even outside a conventional classroom environment.

Cisco Webex can be a central piece in the tele-education puzzle. Learn more by getting started with a free offer today.

Additional Resources

Learn more hybrid learning tips from teachers, for teachers

The Future of Education

Webex Integration Partners join Cisco in offers for education

Experience the new Webex for Education – Simple and secure out-of-the-box

Blackboard Learn and Webex join forces to expand the reach of education

Education resources

What is distance learning?

Welcome to virtual learning

Cisco Webex Education Connector

Cisco Education Home Page

Join our live classes

Webex Teams: Ramping up for Virtual Education

Webex Meetings: Ramping Up for Virtual Education

Webex Meetings: Ramping Up for a Virtual Education

What’s New in Webex Teams November Release

What’s New in Webex Meetings 40.12

Still need help?

What’s new in Webex: November 2020

Join a Webex online meeting

Learn more about Webex, join one of our upcoming training sessions

Explore daily product demonstrations

Sign up for Webex

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

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RoomOS October update

It’s officially spooky season! The RoomOS team have been hard at work to deliver innovations that will make collaboration less scary. Read on to see how BabbleLabs makes sure your voice is heard, how you can clean up your desk with the Desk Pro, and much more.

Babble Labs acquisition – Noise Removal

Working from home is great. You can wear your pajama bottoms, throw on a crisp shirt on top and be ready for business – nobody would ever suspect that you just rolled out of bed. However, background noise such as aggressive keyboard typing, traffic, or your dogs barking can be extremely distracting. With our recent Babble Labs acquisition, we are able to bring advanced noise removal AI to our Cisco Webex Rooms devices, making sure your voice is in focus – not your neighbors’ renovation efforts.

Dark Mode

Most of the world is now working remotely, and education is no different. Are you a teacher who misses the look of white chalk against a blackboard? Well, we are now making that possible – minus the screeching sound. The whiteboard on your Cisco Webex Board or Desk Pro is now dark by default, but with all functionalities remaining the same. If you prefer, you can always change it back to white.

Dark Mode on Cisco writen in multiple colors on Cisco Webex Board or Webex Pro

Whiteboard overview

Sometimes, you’ve got to make things smaller to see the big picture. That’s why we’ve made it possible to zoom out by 10X in your whiteboard sessions to get a better overview, as previously you could only zoom out 2x.

HID Forwarding – Use Desk Pro as a USB Hub

Messy desk? We got you. The Cisco Webex Desk Pro is not only a first-class collaboration device, but it also acts as a computer dock, reducing cables and clutter on your desk. You can connect a keyboard and/or a mouse to the USB port of the device and it will be redirected to the USB-C connected computer.

Personal Mode: Pairing

The Webex apps can now pair with a personal mode device and control it wirelessly. Users can share their screen, receive and place calls when paired to their personal mode devices. Best of all? This is available both in or outside a call.

Advanced mute

Back in June, we released Remote Mute. Now, we’ve expanded this feature to allow the host to mute/unmute all, and decide if participants can or cannot unmute themselves. This makes all-hands meetings that much easier!

Call end confirmation

Life happens, and sometimes the meeting host needs to leave the meeting – either because they’ve got a conflicting meeting, or their child is throwing a tantrum. Both valid reasons. This new feature makes it easy to transfer the host to another meeting participant, as a dialog box will pop up, asking whether you want to transfer the host or if you want to end the meeting for everyone.

That’s it for October. Until next time!

See how you can take your meeting experiences to the next level

Learn More

What’s new in Webex: November 2020

Webex Training Drop- In Session [Live Class]

See What’s New in RoomOS

Still need help?

What would you like to do?

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Learn more about web meetings and video conferencing.

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What’s new in Webex: November 2020

Welcome to what’s new in Webex! This article highlights new Webex features and capabilities that we have recently introduced, as well as a preview of new features coming in November and later this fall.

MEETINGS

WEBEX TEAM COLLABORATION

CALLING

DEVICES

INTEGRATIONS AND INDUSTRY SOLUTIONS

CONTROL HUB, SECURITY AND EDGE SERVICES

MEETINGS

Remove Background Noise from Meetings and Events – Windows and Mac

Having drywall put up in another room or a dog barking to go outside? Filter out those noisy background disruptions before (or during) a call so that others only hear your voice. Just turn on the Remove background noise setting and you’re all set. Find this feature at Settings > Remove background noise.

Work your way: Introducing the Dark Theme

Reduce eye strain by choosing a theme that works best with your lighting conditions. Webex is expanding dark and light theme choices available for the team collaboration to meetings.  Now you can now choose whether you want to view the meeting window in the standard Light Theme or the new Dark Theme. You can select your preferred option from the View menu.

Darktheme

Automatic in-meeting mute warning

Whoops, don’t share your great idea while on mute.  We’ve been making a lot of enhancements to mute and unmute functionality in Webex to remove some of the common friction points in meetings. Soon, automatic notifications in Webex Meetings and Webex Events will let you know if you’re trying to speak while on mute. If you start to talk while your microphone is muted, Webex will automatically show you a notification so that you can unmute yourself to speak.

Automatic in-meeting mute warning

WEBEX TEAM COLLABORATION

We’re adding more intelligence to enhance team collaboration. Use BOTs to automate your workflows and provide proactive notifications.

Microsoft Outlook Bot

We’re making it easy to transition from traditional email to team collaboration.  Don’t miss an important email while you are working in Webex.  Now you can get alerts within your team spaces of email from your client, boss or related to key projects.  Use notification rules for important subjects and people.  No need to create separate rules within Outlook – use an adaptive card within Webex space.

Microssoft Outlook Bot

Confluence Cloud Bot—Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Android

Get notified of important updates to Pages and Blogs in Confluence within your team workspace.   We’re making it easy to keep on top of changes to documented processes, release plans, or product requirement pages from Confluence.   Now you can quickly get updates for pages recently updated, watched, and even saved for later.

Leave a comment to a change on a page directly from any Webex space

Leave a comment to a change on a page directly from any Webex space

Birthday Bot—Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Android

Celebrate your teammates and get in a party mood.  We’ve created a super easy way to keep track of and celebrate birthdays within your team with a new Birthday Bot! Once available, you’ll find it on the Webex App Hub.

CALLING

Webex Calling

Remove Background Noise

Continue communicating without noisy background disruptions. Filter out those noisy background disruptions during calls using the Webex app so that others only hear your voice.

You will soon be able to select a setting option to remove background noise.  Just as in the Webex Meeting experience, when the Remove Background Noise setting is selected, the unified Webex app will remove leaf blowers, vacuum, and other background noise, while enhancing your voice. This feature will be available in November.

Call queue availability

Business agents who are members of a Call Queue can set their availability to receive calls in order to make call routing more effective.  This feature makes working from home easier for the end user when you do not have a hard phone. Users can set their availability from the Webex desktop or mobile client call settings page.

Call Preferences

Update your contacts list from call history

We’re making it easy to add or edit your contacts, not only from Chat, but also from your call history.  Now you can right-click an entry in your Call History and have several convenient options at your fingertips. You can call the person back, add the person to your Contacts list, send a message, send an email, or even start a meeting.

DEVICES

Webex is continues to add features to enable common app and device experiences to support more hybrid work scenarios.

Remove Background Noise

Continue communicating without noisy background disruptions. Later this month, Webex RoomOS devices (Desk Pro, Board and Room Series) will support advanced AI to remove background noise and enhance human voice.

Mute Controls

New expanded roster view & mute experiences create more consistent experiences across app and device meeting experiences. Hosts and co-hosts now have more control over the audio in Webex Meetings directly from their Webex device.  New features include: Mute and unmute everyone, enable “Mute on entry” (all users are automatically muted when they join), and control if meeting participants can unmute, or if only hosts can control who is unmuted.

 

INTEGRATIONS AND INDUSTRY SOLUTIONS

Expanded Webex Expert on Demand features

Webex Expert on Demand lets frontline workers collaborate hands free with subject matter expert anywhere to be more effective. Webex Expert on Demand integration with RealWear HMT-1 continues to expand features. With the Expert on Demand 1.7 release in November, frontline workers will have: expanded group call features to show active calls or initiate group call, search and select space to place or join calls, advanced camera controls to adjust contrast and exposure as well as take HD resolution photos, enhanced shared content controls to zoom in on content, simplified login options via a companion app with QR code and expanded language support with the addition of Korean, Thai, German, French, Polish and Russian.

Webex Expert on Demand

Public Sector Options:  Legislate for Webex

Legislate for Webex is a purpose-built, complete collaboration solution that enables legislatures to vote and conduct hearings virtually, just as they would in personLegislate for Webex is built and secured on the global Webex platform to enable high availability and reliability for institutions around the globe, and is customizable to meet the needs of federal, state and local organizations.

CONTROL HUB, SECURITY AND EDGE SERVICES

If you are an admin, Webex Control Hub places management, monitoring, troubleshooting, analytics, edge and hybrid services across all your collaboration resources in one pane of glass.

Support for Azure Conditional Access to Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint Online – Windows, Mac

If your organization uses Azure Conditional Access, you can now extend access to users to sign into Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint Online content management from within Webex Teams across Windows and Mac devices.  Uses Proof of Possession API to verify device in windows to seamlessly authenticate and use ECM-MS functionality.

Support for Azure

Expanded VDI Support

Webex is offering best in class VDI support for collaboration. Webex supports full featured collaboration and advanced features across meetings, calling, team collaboration and content sharing.  Media is optimized to support 720p video and eliminate content hair-pining.  Additionally, expanded experiences such as virtual background, video breakout rooms and Webex Meeting Assistant are supported in VDI clients so users get richer collaboration experiences even in virtual desktop environments.  Meetings app platform support will be expanded in November to include Citrix and Windows/Ubuntu/eLux Thin Client OS, VMware and Windows Thin Client OS.

Expanded VDI Support

Space Classification

Admins can now define Webex space labels based on data governance policies and enforce all users to classify the Webex team collaboration spaces they create by Public, Confidential, Highly Confidential, or Secret.  This prompts user awareness and compliance with data classification policies where sensitive and confidential content may be shared.  External access can also be restricted to spaces in adherence to your organizations Enterprise Data Classification policies via DLP controls.

Image13 Viewing a Classified Space in a Classified Team.png

Webex Edge Connect – PacketFabric option

Expanded private connectivity options to Webex for hybrid deployments now include PacketFabric. Webex Edge Connect service supports a dedicated private connection to the Cisco Webex Cloud; this option offers added reliability and security for those organizations who prefer not to use OTT connectivity at the edge. With hundreds of global locations, the PacketFabric option for Webex Edge Connect allows organizations to interconnect to Cisco Webex via their owned physical network port and managed virtual connections using a flexible subscription model to adjust bandwidth as needed.

New API options

Webex Control Hub now provides easier access to data via APIs for integrations, and automatic data access for quality data, aggregated trending data and detailed reports. Admins can now pull the data in Control Hub via APIs to integrate with other dashboards or use for further analysis.

For more information on all of these features and upcoming update to Webex, please visit the What’s New Articles for Webex Services.

Learn more

Explore the new Legislate for Webex experience

Webex for Government 

Legislate for Webex [Website]

Webex Innovation Keeps Governments Running Effectively and Securely From Anywhere

Join our live classes

What’s New in Webex Teams November Release

What’s New in Webex Meetings 40.12

Still need help?

Join a Webex online meeting

Learn more about Webex, join one of our upcoming training sessions

Explore daily product demonstrations

Future of Government: Hybrid Workspace for Legislature [Live Class]

Sign up for Webex

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

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Are you happy?

Chelsea Miller & Maryam Tabatabaeian –  A data-driven framework for analyzing user satisfaction with Cisco Webex Assistant

Voice assistants are the user interfaces of our future. Voice user interfaces (VUIs) allow us to communicate in one of the most natural ways possible—talking, just as we would with any of our friends or colleagues. While VUIs once felt like a novelty and weren’t very robust (we can all remember the days when the response to just about any command was “Do you want me to search the web?”), today they’ve integrated into our routines, helping us check the weather, play music, and get directions. They’re even in our workplaces.

As the popularity of voice assistants grows, so do users’ expectations for seamless, human-like interactions. How do we evaluate if the assistants we build are satisfying our users? What does it mean for a user to be “happy,” and how do you even measure happiness?

On the MindMeld team, we’ve been investigating how to evaluate users’ experiences when talking with Webex Assistant, the first conversational assistant for the enterprise space. We answer the question “are users happy?” by developing a quantitative framework to address a historically qualitative user experience problem. We hope this investigation sparks interest in how we can think about measuring user experience online and in real-time.

Why is evaluating user satisfaction so difficult?

Evaluating user experience with artificial intelligence (AI) products is a difficult problem for a few reasons: AI systems are probabilistic in nature, natural language is variable, and user satisfaction is subjective. We expect the system’s output to be variable since AI is non-deterministic; deciding if the result of the system is expected variation or an error is one layer of difficulty. Not only can the output of the system vary, but the input from the user varies, too. People speak in different ways, using different words and sentence structures, so the system must be robust to understanding lots of natural language variation. Finally, how users are feeling is hard to understand, especially when you can’t ask them, and even harder to quantify. What satisfies a user can differ from individual to individual, and one user’s feelings can change based on the context and their expectations.

Previous research focused on understanding users’ experiences falls into two main categories: accuracy-based approaches and user studies & surveys. In accuracy-based approaches, accuracy is used as a proxy for satisfaction. If the system has high accuracy, the user is likely satisfied. However, these approaches often rely on single utterances and can miss the overall experience of a conversation. For example, if a user says “next page,” and the system identifies the query correctly and moves to the next page, this would be a success! But if the user says “next page” several times, this might indicate that they haven’t been able to find what they were looking for. That potential user frustration wouldn’t be captured when just looking at the single utterance accuracies. User surveys & studies provide a great window into user behavior, but conducting longitudinal user studies is costly in terms of resourcing participants and time spent on qualitative & quantitative data analysis. This approach is much harder, if not impossible, to use at scale. User studies don’t use real-time user data and take place in artificial lab settings, which might differ from real users’ experiences.

Our framework

We try to take the best of each of these approaches, while addressing some of their shortcomings. We want to create a system that captures real users’ judgements, focuses on the larger user experience at the level of the conversation, and uses real-time data, so our approach can be scalable and automatic.

At a high-level, our framework:

1. Captures interactions at the level of the conversation
2. Automatically classifies conversations based on their conversational goal and conversational end state
3. Automatically assigns conversations a satisfaction label

Capturing conversations

The first challenge we tackle is how to capture users’ interactions with Webex Assistant. This is especially important for conversational AI, where analysis can happen at many different levels of an interaction. We choose to focus on conversations. We define a conversation as an interaction initiated by a user or the assistant, which can have single or multiple turns, and contains one conversational goal.

To capture each conversation, we introduce a common ID to thread that conversation from beginning to end. We log an event, called the “trigger,” each time a conversation is initiated. The trigger event includes the conversation’s unique ID and the goal of that conversation. For us, conversational goals most closely map to use cases, like calling a person or joining a meeting. Any queries the user says that move them towards the completion of the goal of the use case count as part of that conversation.

The image below shows an example of what we consider a conversation. Here, we’ll take a look at the “call person” use case. The conversational goal of the “call person” use case is to, ideally, successfully call a person.

We capture all the turns taken between the user & the assistant. When the conversation ends, we log the final state with the same ID as the trigger event. Our common ID allows us to follow the course of the conversation as it unfolded in real-time. In our example, we would log all these queries as part of one conversation with the conversational goal of “Call Person.”

Conversational end states

Retrospective analysis of historical data uncovered patterns in how user’s conversations with Webex Assistant end. After manual analysis, we decided on four categories to capture conversational end states. Here are the possible categories we use to automatically classify conversations by their end states:

Fulfilled      the assistant successfully fulfills the user’s goal
Error           the assistant fails to fulfill the user’s goal
Exited          the user abandons the conversation or cancels
Modified    the user decides to change part of the request or restart the conversation

Here are examples from the “call person” use case:

Satisfaction labels

Now that the conversation has been captured from beginning to end and it contains a label for the conversational end state, the next step is to automatically assign a satisfaction label. The goal of the satisfaction label is to capture how users might feel after having a conversation. We wanted these labels to be user-friendly: high-level enough to understand at a glance, but granular enough to capture meaningful distinctions between users’ experiences. We use the following satisfaction labels:

Happy       the user’s goal was successfully fulfilled
Sad             the user’s goal was not met
Friction    the expectations of the user are not met

Again, here are some examples from the “call person” use case:

Results of our framework

To recap our framework, we’ve threaded utterances to create conversations, automatically classified those conversations by their end state, and then automatically assigned a satisfaction label to understand users’ experiences.
Now, we’ll take a look at the results of this framework and what it helps us do. We’ll consider data from a full week of user interactions with Webex Assistant for our three most popular use cases: “call person,” “join a meeting,” and “join a Personal Room” (data not representative of real Webex Assistant performance).

 

At a glance, we can see how users feel when using Webex Assistant features—which are driving user happiness, and which might be causing the most difficulty. If “call person” shows a spike in “friction,” for example, we could investigate just those conversations. We might find that all the “friction” conversations happened on devices in Thailand, where users natively speak Thai, not English. We might hypothesize that the assistant had difficulty understanding Thai names.

Knowing how well each feature is performing in real-time allows our product team to track the real-time satisfaction of each feature and quickly identify & investigate issues. Depicted in a live dashboard, these valuable insights help us ask the right questions and directly impact the product roadmap.

Verifying our framework

We felt confident that these labels captured user satisfaction since we based them on user data, but we didn’t stop there. To be sure that the predictions we make about users’ experiences actually capture how users feel, we asked human annotators to label the data using the same satisfaction labels that our system uses: “happy,” “sad,” and “friction.” Annotators were instructed to put themselves in the shoes of the user and ask themselves, “how would I feel after this interaction?”

 

There was significant agreement between the human-labeled and system-labeled data (75% agreement, κ = 0.66). This comparison gives us confidence that our algorithm captures a realistic picture of user satisfaction. We feel confident that our framework successfully predicts user satisfaction that’s consistent with what real humans are feeling.

Takeaways

With this approach, we’re able to quickly get a snapshot of what users experience when using different Webex Assistant features. We’ve taken something as subjective as users’ happiness and broken it down into quantitative labels that can be automatically applied based on the conversation, end state, and conversational goal. We offer this as an attempt to think about how we can quantify user experience and shift the mindset of understanding users’ happiness to include quantitative methods.

About the authors

Chelsea Miller is a Data Analyst on the Webex Intelligence team at Cisco Systems. She holds a Master’s in Linguistics from UCSC, where she conducted research investigating how humans process language in real-time. Post-grad, her interest in how we understand each other, specifically how machines do (or don’t!), led her to work on conversational assistants. As a Data Analyst, she tackles problems like conversational analysis, how to securely & representatively collect quality language data, and voice interface usability. 

Maryam Tabatabaeian is a Data Scientist working with the Webex Intelligence team at Cisco Systems. Before joining Cisco, she finished her Ph.D. in Cognitive Science, doing research on how humans make decisions. Her passion for studying human behavior, along with knowledge in data science, made research on voice assistants a fascinating area to her. She now designs metrics and data models for evaluating user interactions with voice assistants. 

Click here to learn more about the offerings from Webex and to sign up for a free account. 

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Cisco Webex and Microsoft Azure Active Directory – better together

As more employees access applications via their home networks, the corporate network perimeter is disappearing, making identity the control plane for effective and secure access across all users and applications. Thanks to integrations between Cisco and Microsoft, our joint customers can achieve seamless and secure access to Cisco Webex with Microsoft Azure Active Directory (Azure AD). Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) is Microsoft’s enterprise identity and access management service that helps organizations manage and secure access to critical applications, data and resources. Thousands of organizations use Azure AD to enable secure and seamless access to the applications their workforce needs, including Cisco Webex.

active users and numbers

With Azure AD our joint customers can take advantage of capabilities such as:

  • Single sign-on to simplify access to all their apps from anywhere
  • Risk-based adaptive access policies that safeguard access to applications.
  • Identity governance to ensure only authorized users have access to the right apps.
  • Unified identity management that centralizes management of identities and applications across the cloud or on-premises.

Secure collaboration with Cisco Webex and Azure AD

Using standard protocols like SAML 2.0, OAuth 2, and SCIM, we’ve built integrations with Microsoft so that identity-related information and data can flow between Azure AD and Cisco Webex Identity Services. This can help ensure secure access to Cisco collaboration tools like Webex Meetings, Webex Teams, Jabber, and more.

Logos of Azure AD and Cisco Webex, with Webex Meetings, Webex Teams, Webex Calling, Jabber, Webex Devices and Contact Center

With the Cisco Webex and Azure AD integration our customers can enable scenarios such as single sign-on and automated user provisioning.

Single sign-on

3 gold people heads with a lock in front

Cisco Webex Identity Services can deliver single sign-on to all Cisco Webex collaboration tools using Microsoft Azure AD as the identity provider. End users can seamlessly sign-in to Cisco Webex collaboration tools alongside Office 365 with the same credentials.  And admins can secure access to Cisco Webex collaboration tools by setting adaptive risk-based policies. For example, admins can set conditional access policies based on the user, location, device, and application to determine whether access to Cisco Webex should be allowed, limited, or blocked.

Automated user provisioning

three gold people heads

Using the SCIM standard – System for Cross-domain Identity Management – our joint customers can use our provisioning integration to automate the lifecycle of user and group accounts for Cisco Webex. With our provisioning integration, you can quickly deploy Cisco Webex throughout your organization and keep user data up to date. With automated user provisioning, you can eliminate manual processes when it comes to creating, updating, or disabling employee user accounts within Cisco Webex based on changes in Azure AD.

Office 365 integrations

3 gold people heads and check mark

Many organizations rely on Microsoft 365 as their main productivity tool to get their work done. With our Microsoft 365 integrations, you can connect your calendar and files with Cisco Webex collaboration tools. The Enterprise Content Management integration with OneDrive and SharePoint allows you to view, edit and share files directly in Cisco Webex. You can also connect your Outlook calendar to quickly schedule, start, and join Cisco Webex meetings.

What’s next?

Handsome man and attractive woman are working in data centre with laptop. IT engineer specialists in network server room. Running diagnostics and maintenance. Technicians examining server.

In the coming months, we’ll also be releasing Microsoft Intune support and single sign-on with Azure AD for our mobile apps across iOS and Android.  Soon customers will be able to apply device based conditional access policies such as limiting or blocking access to Cisco Webex on an uncompliant device.

We’re excited about bringing these integrations to customers to help increase security while keeping users productive.

To learn more about setting up Cisco Webex with Azure AD, review our single sign-on and provisioning tutorials, and check out our sociallive.

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Webex Meetings integrations let you work and play from wherever you are

Webex Integration Partners join Cisco in offers for education

What’s new in Webex: October 2020

Still Need Help?

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Sign up for Webex

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

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We listened and we delivered! The new Webex App Header is here
Your launchpad to collaborate! The new Webex App Header is here

Shift in demand for real-time collaboration

This year has brought about a dramatic shift in the way we get our work done and collaborate as a team. The rapid change to remote working has made the demand for real-time collaboration greater than ever before; with team collaboration solutions becoming the new digital work hub. Not only essential for business continuity, but also for maintaining workplace connections – catching up with a colleague, having a virtual all hands and so much more.

With our Webex user base growing faster than ever before, Cisco realizes the importance of our solution in continuing workplace normality; and how essential it is to continue to listen to the voice of our customers. Your feedback is a key influencer in our development and planning to create a solution that helps you work faster and smarter.

After months of careful design, building, and feedback analysis, we can finally unveil the sleek new App Header coming to Webex Teams on September 29th, 2020.

New App Header

new App Header for Webex Teams streamlines your everyday experience

The new App Header for Webex Teams streamlines your everyday experience by pulling together all your commonly used actions into one convenient and always accessible place. This new header is persistent across all tabs.

Let’s explore the new App Header step by step.

Settings & Preferences

Your avatar menu has a new home in the App Header. Click your avatar icon to instantly access the settings & preferences menu.

Quick access to Custom Status

The newly located custom status bar makes it easier than ever to keep your status up to date and relevant to your current workflows. If you have a Custom Status set, it will always be visible in the App Header, and updating or clearing it is now just one click away.

Quick access to Customer Status

People renamed to Direct Messages

With this update, you will notice a new term appearing in your app. If you have space tabs enabled, you will now see a tab called ‘Direct’, which replaces ‘People’. The preference option in your space list filters drop-down will now read ‘Separate DMs and Spaces’, instead of ‘Separate People and Spaces’. The plus button, where before this update you would have found the option to ‘Contact a person’, will now read ‘Send a direct message’.

The functionality has not changed, this is simply a rename effort of People to Direct Messages. This change is to line up with the status quo of other apps and to make it easier to understand for our users.

Create a Space & more

The plus button now includes additional features to enable quicker communication, such as the ability to make a call or add a local contact. You will still find your options to send a direct message (originally contact a person) or create a space in this menu.

Create a Space & More in Webex Teams

Search for People & Spaces

The search box has moved to a new location in the header of the app. Here, you can search for people, spaces, and contacts as normal. As you type, the search drop-down will appear with a list of results, ordered by your most recently active spaces. To see more results in a category, simply click ‘Show more’. You can also right-click on any search result – people, space or contact – giving you quick access to additional options such as ‘Open in new window’. By hovering over a search result, you will see the call/meet button option appear.

To start a search quickly while you are working in the app, you can use the standard shortcut ‘Control + F’ on Windows and ‘Command + F’ on Mac. With this update, the header will persist throughout the app, meaning you always have quick access to search.

Search for People and Spaces in Webex Teams

Search for Messages & Files in ‘Advanced Search’

Sometimes, if we are looking for a specific message or file, we want to perform a more in-depth search. With this update, to search for messages or files, you must select the very top item in the search drop-down result list which reads: ‘Search all spaces’. Clicking this expands the search box to the left, giving you access to ‘Advanced Search’, where you will find all message and file results.

In this view, you can browse through results with single clicks to find what you are looking for, with results appearing on the right as they are clicked. Refinement options (such as ‘With:’) can also be found here. You now have two methods to use these search refinement modifiers in the new App Header. You can simply type them into the search bar itself at any time or you can select ‘Refine’ in the ‘Advanced Search’ view. For quick access to ‘Advanced Search’, simply use the keyboard shortcut ‘Shift + Enter’ while focus is in the search box. To remove yourself from the ‘Advanced Search’ view, click ‘cancel’, double-click to select a result or switch tabs.

Search for Messages & Files in 'Advanced Search' in Webex Teams

Dial a number & make a call

Enter a phone number directly into the search bar to open calling options. Here you can decide to make a voice or video call.

Connect to a device

This feature remains the same just with a prominent new location in the App Header. You are still able to search and seamlessly connect to local devices.

Dial a number & make a call and connect to device in Webex Teams

For more information on this new App Header, visit our dedicated help page here.

Learn More

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Still Need Help?

What would you like to do?

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Learn more about web meetings and video conferencing.

Sign up for Webex.

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

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Father and son on the sofa, working from home and learning from screen.
Working from home with kids

Working from home — whether by necessity or choice  — is increasingly common for professionals across the country and the globe.

Whether you’re a full-time remote worker, telecommuting for part of each week, or temporarily fulfilling your work responsibilities from home, having kids at home at the same time can make your workday more complicated and less organized. While successfully balancing time between work and your children requires some careful thought and planning, it’s by no means impossible. Consider this advice for creating a more productive and harmonious environment for your kids and yourself.

Finding a balance between alone time and togetherness

There are many times where a little background noise or chatter won’t harm the end result of your work. And there are plenty of other scenarios when you simply need a quiet space to focus and pay close attention to the task at hand. Finding a happy medium between the two can help you work from home more successfully when your kids are also at home.

If you have simple, small tasks or similar work planned for part of your day, consider using that time to sit together with your family. A sense of togetherness, even when everyone is focused on work or school, is valuable. And you can dedicate more time to being fully present with your kids before and after the workday is done, as well as during lunch and other breaks.

You’ll also need a way to create a separate working space for times you really need to focus, or when using video conferencing solutions to connect with colleagues, supervisors, clients, and other stakeholders. With kids old enough to supervise themselves and understand their parents’ need to sometimes buckle down during their workdays, this often isn’t an issue, to begin with.

For younger children, you can consider putting up a reminder when you really need some time alone. Making a color-coded sign with green and red sides can be a quick and fun crafting project with your young ones. Remind your kids that you’re there if a true emergency occurs and make sure to occasionally check-in even when it’s time to put all of your attention toward your work. Parents.com pointed out that nap time for younger kids is also prime time for adults to devote some undivided attention to their work.

Building a plan with spouses and other family members

Finding a balance between work and the needs of your children is much easier when multiple family members are involved. Your partner and any other adults in the house, as well as your older teenage children, can help you split this responsibility during the workday. Start a conversation about your schedules and who is available at a given time to supervise the kids. Your younger kids will get more facetime with family members, and the adults involved will have more time for conference calls and other tasks that demand your full attention and a quiet environment.

Create a schedule that works for you

Taking the time to create an effective schedule will pay off when you – and everyone else – have a clear picture of when you’re free, busy, and somewhere in between. Clear time for major projects, critical deadlines, and other intensive work well ahead of when it needs to be done whenever possible and let your kids and other family members know you can’t be available during those times. Similarly, set aside time for your kids, whether it’s overseeing an activity or getting a little bit of quality time in during the day.

While you can’t always control when a client or vendor will need to talk, blocking off your calendar will encourage your colleagues and supervisors to work with your schedule. If needed, have a discussion with your direct manager about flexibility in your workday. Explain how, for example, you’re happy to work a little later into the evening or get an earlier start, if needed, to ensure you can spend a full hour of family time with your kids at lunch or assist with complicated homework assignments. Look for ways to compromise that respect both your employer’s needs and your own as a parent working from home.

Save some personal time, too

Working from home along with kids and the rest of your family can make it difficult to prioritize your own basic need to relax, unwind, spend time on hobbies or simply take a break.

If there’s more than one adult in the house, you can work with each other to prioritize some “me time” for everyone involved. That could mean having one parent make dinner or start the process of putting the kids to bed while the other catches up on their favorite TV shows or fits in a workout. Here are some more ideas on How to have fun, virtually.

Even if you’re the only adult at home, you can still find a little time to reward yourself for effectively balancing parenting, work, household chores, and your many other responsibilities. Consider relaxing or finishing that project after the kids are in bed.

Having the right tools to connect with others when working from home is vital for building an effective schedule and making sure your family, your work, and yourself all receive the attention they deserve.

 Get started with your free Cisco Webex plan today.

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6 tips for working from home with kids

Webex Meetings integrations let you work and play from wherever you are

What’s new in Webex: October 2020

Resources

Download your free Cisco Coloring for Kids pack

Still Need Help?

Join a Webex online meeting

Learn more about Webex, join one of our upcoming training sessions

Explore daily product demonstrations

Sign up for Webex

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

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UI Meeting grid with many faces on a 5 x 5
What’s new in Webex: October 2020

New features and capabilities you can use to be productive anywhere and enable safe return to the office

Welcome to what’s new in Webex! This article offers a great summary on new features and capabilities that we have introduced, as well as a preview of new features coming in October and later this fall.

MEETINGS

We’re introducing an all-new Webex preview and in-meeting user experience, making it much more intuitive and easier to use, allowing you to be more productive anywhere you work.

Simplified Preview

The larger, optimized Audio/Video Preview window makes it easier to look your best and find the settings you need before joining a meeting. A new larger video screen lets you see exactly how you will appear in the meeting. Select a virtual background from one of our 9 preloaded options, use a blurred background, or add your own customized picture.

woman wearing glasses loking at screen

Simplified in-Meeting Controls

Meeting controls are now clearly labeled and easy to locate at the bottom of your meeting window, which means you’ll always have them in sight, without covering up shared content or video.

Clearly labeled buttons and menus mean fewer menus and clicks. Audio settings and camera settings can now be conveniently accessed in the menus at the right of their respective mute and camera buttons. Consolidated panel controls (like Participants, Chat, and Q&A) can be found towards the right, where the panel opens.

floating panel on computer screen and another graph showing redistricting projections 2021 with colored graph

And when you are sharing content, we’ve also made the experience simple and seamless.  Now you can float the participant panel, placing controls where you want them.

Throughout the month of October, we’re continuing to add more features to make your experience with Webex Meetings even more powerful.

More work-from-home options with Webex

Webex helps users work from anywhere on any device. Soon Facebook Portal users will be able to leverage their Webex Meetings app directly from their device! The experience will match what currently exists in the Android app, with audio, video, and content share enabled with the Facebook Portal device.

Webex meeting app being used directly from a hand-held device sitting on a table

Users of Amazon Echo Show or Google Home Hub Smart Display devices will be able to use Webex Meetings on these devices, as well. Amazon Echo Show devices will be able to display meeting and recording lists, as well as play back recordings. Google Nest Hub devices will be able to display meeting and recording lists, play back recordings, and schedule meetings. For more details on using Webex Meetings on experience Amazon Echo Show and Google Nest Hub Devices click here.

Manage classes more easily in Webex Education Connector

We’re expanding capabilities for instructors with Webex Education Connector to include a new recordings library, attendance management, and the ability to edit recurring class sessions.

Webex Education Connector is making it easier for instructors to record their class sessions beforehand and share those recordings to any class they teach in current or upcoming semesters. Additionally, instructors can view, rename, and delete their own recordings. Instructors can take attendance in each class, indicate excused absences, and assign a grade for students based on their attendance. Instructors can also edit their recurring class sessions. Learn more here.

WEBEX TEAMS COLLABORATION

Global App Header

We’re adding a new header in the app that gives you a quick and easy way to get to your common actions like create a space, add a contact, edit your status, and know your device connectivity without needing to go into any specific tab. See Webex Teams | New App Header

Voice Clips iPhone, iPad, and Android

No time for a phone call? Working remotely or on the fly and no time to write a message? No problem, now you can send voice clips on Webex Teams for mobile.

Example of using Webex Teams and send voice clipsMeeting and calling experiences — with virtual backgrounds

Love the virtual background or blur features? Use virtual or blurred background in calls and meetings, no matter where you work. And now you can personalize your background by uploading up to 3 images of your own… just make sure your administrator has enabled this feature for you.

Simplify complex tasks and interactions with one-click access to embedded apps

Bring important websites and web apps into the conversation. In your Webex Teams spaces, you can add a website URL as a tab and everyone in the space has access to the website with just one click. A new tab format simplifies layout and accommodates up to 10 tabs per team space. Embed a website, a BI dashboard, or a cloud document to keep work flowing quickly. This feature will be added to the Webex Teams later this month.

A layout of a Trello board within TeamsCALLING

Webex Calling

Virtual extensions

Virtual extensions allow organizations to include non-Webex Calling locations in their dial plan. Administrators can assign virtual extensions to users that aren’t on their network. Dialed Virtual Extensions are translated to routable numbers and then sent to the dialing user’s PSTN connection for outbound handling.

Unified CM

Multiline support within teams — Windows and Mac

Are you looking for an easier way to manage multiple phone lines? Now you can use Webex Teams to manage work group environments such as boss/admin, support group, or contact center all within one app. With Webex Teams you can support up to 8 phone lines and leverage advanced calling features on each line such as call forward, transfer, hunt group, shared lines, and voicemail. You can also assign different ringtones to each line, making it easier for you to know when calls are coming into certain lines. And your administrator can turn on presence for shared lines so that line status is displayed.

Multiple phone line use in Webex Teams, list of phone numbers with pastel colors to indicate different lines such as front desk, break room, and conference room

UCM Cloud Migration Assistant

For Cisco calling customers looking to take their Unified Communications Manager systems to the cloud, we now have a streamlined path to get you there, with the UCM Cloud Migration Assistant.

The Migration Assistant can automatically extract users, calling features, and system settings from your on-premises UCM and replicate them in UCM Cloud. It’s powerful enough to let you customize your migration data and optimize for cloud deployment. With the Migration Assistant, you have the flexibility to schedule your migration on a site-by-site basis and perform synthetic call testing to validate all the call routes and features are working correctly.

Migration Assistant and platform showing call routes

DEVICES

Webex is creating more intelligent solutions for the hybrid work environment. See how we’re helping organizations make returning to the office safe and productive.

New integrated sensors provide insights 

We’re integrating more sensors in Webex Room devices to monitor environmental conditions and help IT and facilities provide a safer, more comfortable working environment as they reconfigure office spaces for return to work. Expanded sensors capture not only the number of people to support social distancing, but will soon identify environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, air quality, ambient light, noise, and room acoustics quality. Analysis from intelligent sensors monitors comfort and helps improve workplace satisfaction.

New options for intelligent workplace and smart room booking

As organizations return to the office, it’s time for a more intelligent way of optimizing shared spaces. Introducing Cisco Webex® Room Navigator – an intuitive, touch panel that offers instant connections to video conferences, room controls, content sharing, room booking, even digital signage when not in use. Designed to work inside and outside the meeting room, it provides intelligent, safe room booking for users and deep data for IT and facilities managers. See it in action:

Expanded mobility options for deskless workers

Some of your most important workers are constantly on the move. Without time to get to a desk, important calls could be missed. The new Cisco IP DECT 6823 VOIP phone provides a great calling solution that enables deskless workers to stay connected with the range, mobility, and security features. Stay connected to your organization, regardless of where you are: in the field, in the warehouse, at the nursing station, on the shop floor, or in the hotel lobby. Whether it’s a quick text for information, a call for help, or even a conference call, the DECT series offers simple all-day use. Learn more here.

INTEGRATIONS

Expanded Webex Expert on Demand features

We’re working hard to make frontline workers even more effective. With the Webex Expert on Demand 1.6 release with integrated RealWear headset, frontline workers and remote experts can annotate images for even more powerful troubleshooting and real-time collaboration. The hands-free experience is improved with remote controls to zoom camera, control volume, or use a ‘flashlight’ to better see what matters.

Mechanic working hands free using controls from an eye device attached to his hat and leaning over under the hood of a car

CONTROL HUB & SECURITY

Workspace metrics in Webex Control Hub

Webex Control Hub workspace tab provides IT much-needed visibility for conference room devices, utilization, and more. Now we’re expanding insights to include visualized data and trending: providing insight in average room occupancy, booked but not used rooms, environmental conditions for productive work, and more. These insights offer actionable information to optimize real estate utilization and proactively address issues that may impact your next meeting.

Workpace Metric in Control Hub

Introducing the Organization Health Assessment Tool for IT

Let Webex Control Hub be your coach and help you take advantage of best practices, reduce turn-around times for setup, understand usage and adoption challenges, pinpoint experience challenges with their deployment and more. This online tool provides configuration insights to set up Webex with easy to understand action items and interactive walkthroughs.

configuration tool within COontrol Hub

For more information on all of these features and upcoming update to Webex, please visit the What’s New Articles for Webex Services.

Learn More

Webex AI Innovations Enable Your Team to Safely Return to the Office and Be Productive

Explore the New Webex In-Meeting Experience (Webex 40.9)

Still Need Help?

Join a Webex online meeting

Learn more about Webex, join one of our upcoming training sessions

Explore daily product demonstrations

Sign up for Webex

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

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Female mentor, tutor, teacher looking at webcam of laptop, closeup face. Video conference, online lesson, teacher teaching remotely. Technology, education, school concept
Keep your social skills sharp with Webex

Exercise your social skills

Practice makes perfect, including social skills. Whether you’re back in the office, working from home, or a mix of both, if you’re feeling a little bit rusty at relationship-building, you’re not alone. Many are discovering firsthand what studies of social isolation in astronauts and polar explorers have shown to be true: interpersonal skills are like muscles–you need to exercise them to stay in shape.

The social interaction problem

Think for a moment: when was the last time you met someone new? How many people have you interacted with outside of work or family settings? Depending on where you live, it might have been a while since you had regular contact with new people. According to medical experts cited in The New York Times*, social interaction is one of the most complicated tasks for our brains and we benefit from day-to-day interactions with strangers, such as chatting with the barista at your local coffee shop, a gym buddy, networking contacts, and other spontaneous conversations out in the world.

“In normal circumstances, we get a lot of practice, so it becomes somewhat seamless. You don’t think about it. But when you have fewer opportunities to practice, you get off your game.” – We’re All Socially Awkward Now, New York Times Article, September 1, 2020

The good news is that you can empower yourself to stretch those relationship-building muscles safely and remotely with Webex.

1) Get some face time

Remember eye contact? The best way to get used to reading body language again is to turn on video. It helps you automatically engage when you can see each other’s faces, emotions, and reactions. Plus, it will help you become a pro at matching names and faces.

At Webex, we often speak about the idea of vulnerable video and being brave enough to turn on video in every meeting. With virtual backgrounds, it’s even easier to feel comfortable turning–and keeping–the camera on while minimizing any distractions! Sharing video will help you hone your social aptitude through engaging, interactive, remote discussions.

2) Grab a virtual coffee

One way I’ve been challenging myself to keep my social skills sharp is by setting up virtual coffees on Webex. In the last few weeks alone, I’ve connected with an old high school friend, a longtime Twitter contact whom I’ve never met in person, and several people on my team who I didn’t know very well.

If you’re nervous, start small by scheduling a 15-minute chat to keep it low pressure. Don’t be afraid to ask if there’s anyone else you should connect with for your next coffee; you never know what doors it might open! Check out other ways to have fun, virtually.

3) Build inclusive experiences

More comfortable in a group setting than one-on-one? Invite a few people to chat about a specific topic, whether it’s related to work or fun. Picking a conversation subject in advance helps take the pressure off. If things get lively, you can even create breakout rooms to keep conversations manageable.

For blended workplaces with team members who are at home and in the office, everyone can be an equal participant with Webex. Your in-office attendees can stay safe through “zero-touch” meetings with intelligence to monitor guidelines for social distancing, making it easy for everyone to connect no matter where they work from.

4) Make spaces for social gathering

Virtual spaces in Webex Teams are a great way to break the ice and learn about things you and your peers have in common. For example, I’m in spaces with colleagues across Cisco related to subjects like food, fashion, books, and even pets! Having a place to connect from time to time helps strengthen relationships without needing to meet regularly in real-time. Plus, you can make your interactions unique by showing your mood through GIFs and emojis.

5) Make connecting a habit

As we continue to adapt to the next normal, we sometimes need a reminder to keep human connection in our lives. Webex already empowers you to get stuff done, so block off that extra time you have on your calendar for building social connections.

6) Embrace the uncomfortable

Not sure if you should wave when saying goodbye on a call? Or feel awkward if you talk over someone else? You’re not alone! Just as with in-person interactions, some social discomfort is unavoidable. Stay relaxed and don’t feel pressure to fill every bit of silence with conversation.

The most important thing to remember is that we’re all human. As you widen your social circles from a social distance, be sure to keep a sense of humor as we all learn to adapt to social norms in the new normal.

Try Cisco Webex free, today!

Resources

*New York Times article

Learn More

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Webex bridal shower bring remote teams together when it counts

Your Guide to Workplace Evolution

Still Need Help?

What would you like to do?

Join a Webex online meeting.

Learn more about web meetings and video conferencing.

Sign up for Webex.

Visit our home page or contact us directly for assistance.

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Couples with smartphones, tablets and laptops chatting online, during coronavirus self isolation, quarantine. Virtual dating during COVID-19 outbreak. Vector illustration
10 lessons that helped scale Webex during a global crisis

Panos Kozanian –  As every IT department around the globe are executing business continuity plans, Webex’s criticality to customers and its utilization soared.

Webex is part of the business continuity plan of over 95% of all Fortune 500 companies. COVID-19 changed our world forever, and working from home (WFH) became a necessity as sheltering in place became the new norm overnight. As every IT department around the globe executed their business continuity plans, Webex’s criticality to our customers and its utilization soared.

regional concurrent peak attendee
The regional concurrent peak attendee counts determine the amount of capacity that needs to be provisioned.

I’ll be sharing the story and some of the lessons learned as we scaled Webex to meet the new demand both on the technical and the process side.

Here’s a TL;DR of the lessons learned:

  1. Observe the world
  2. Have a worst-case scenario plan
  3. Have burst capacity plans to alternate clouds
  4. Have flexibility on resource intensive workflows
  5. Have a common unit for scale
  6. Decentralize decision making but keep a centralized Control Tower
  7. Proactively communicate with your customers
  8. Shield the scaling team
  9. Leverage your service providers early
  10. Promote and be an example of self-care

Before I dive into the story and the lessons learned, I want to recognize two things:

First, at Webex, we are most grateful for the people who are helping on the front lines without the luxury of being protected by the OSI layers of networking.

Second, we pride ourselves on being an extension of our customers’ IT departments. We recognize that the story of scaling Webex is a portion of the journey our customers went through. Our IT counterparts in each of our customers’ organizations deserve an incredible amount of recognition for effectively executing on some of the most challenging business continuity plans we will face in our lifetime. We at Webex are grateful to have been in a position to assist our customers, schools, hospitals, and governments around the globe in this unprecedented world event.

Early February | Tremors

Webex runs the largest global network and data center backbone dedicated to real-time collaboration. In our 24/7 Network Operation Center (NOC) we observe global events regularly: typhoons, landslides, earthquakes, and internet route disruptions and congestions are all events that we observe and react to regularly.

Observe the World

On February 3rd our network monitoring alerts were triggered by a drastic increase in traffic from our multi-national customers in China that connect via our global network along with our China-based local customer that connects through a dedicated point of presence in China – physically separate from the rest of Webex. We eventually handled a network increase of 22x over our January baselines for that region, due to the shelter-in-place orders of our customers’ employees in China who were connecting to our Webex services.

Network traffic throughput over time coming from China into the Webex global backbone.
Network traffic throughput over time coming from China into the Webex global backbone.

At this point, our NOC’s assessment was that we had at the very least an epidemic and possibly a pandemic that could affect the broader APAC regions and we started to mobilize compute and network capacity increases in the region.

Late February | Scenario Planning

The penultimate week of February our Site Reliability Engineers (SREs) were observing an unexpected increase in all regions in our Year-over-Year comparison graphs. This is when we knew we had a global event coming our way and put a team together dedicated to scenario planning for different possible outcomes based on data from recent epidemics and pandemics.

Have a worst-case scenario plan

Webex is part of the business continuity plan of over 95% of all Fortune 500 companies. We, therefore, had three scenarios planned out by our teams. One that estimated a 130% increase in peak utilization if the pandemic was fairly well contained, another that had a 150% increase in case a massive spread would happen, and a third that had a 200% increase as the “worst-case” we could imagine at that time.  In retrospect, we were underestimating tremendously and being misled by how recent epidemics and pandemics (2009 swine flu) had played out. Despite it being an underestimate, we’re glad we started executing on scenario 3 early – the worst-case scenario.

Have a common unit for scale

Capacity increases are a common task at Webex, but the scale at which this one would come our way required coordination across a very wide range of teams that were each making multiple optimizations a day and looking at capacity through different lenses: CPU utilization for compute, Gbps for network, TB for storage, QPS for databases, etc… Each of these was converted to a common metric that was relatable to our engineers and our customers: “Peak Attendees”. Conversions to Peak Attendees were used to quickly identify where bottlenecks might show up in our aggregated models across our global data center footprint.

Have flexibility on resource-intensive workflows

Scenario 3’s mitigations required an aggressive timeline. Webex, in this scenario, could temporarily run out of capacity in a given region. The plan included leveraging our global footprint, accelerated through our backbone, to deliver services to specific regions while other regions were sleeping.

Armed with plans for these three potential scenarios, we started executing on the mitigations of Scenario 3 – a 200% global increase – thinking that we were executing against what seemed like a worst-case scenario.

Early March | State of Emergency

By March 2nd, we were deploying all capacity we had on hand across the globe and augmenting our backbones for a 200% increase. We also started provisioning burst capacity in public clouds to rapidly extend our global backbone.

To assist the world in transitioning to shelter in place, we also reduced restrictions that exist in our free offering (which is isolated from our paying customers’ services) to assist enterprises, schools, hospitals, and governments in moving to shelter in place: we removed all time restrictions, we allowed up to 100 participants per meeting and even provided phone dial-ins globally.

Proactively communicate with your customers

In early March, we started reaching out proactively to customers letting them know what we were seeing and that we had our entire company’s backing to support them. Our account teams backed by our executives offered assistance to our customers in transitioning to an all work from home employee base with documentation, tutorials, and training. These early proactive communications were the first of many to come, where our account teams worked closely with our customers to assist in the massive work from home transitions.

Have burst capacity plans to alternate clouds

Webex runs our own cloud and global backbone: 16 data centers connected by a backbone that handles 1.5Tbps at peak. Our backbone further connects 5 different geographies directly to public cloud providers. In early March, we extended our services quickly into different public clouds in order to reserve capacity. This served us incredibly well as different cloud providers were themselves scaling to meet the demand coming their way.

By March 9th, most companies with flexible WFH policies had all of their employees work from home (including all of us Webex employees). We could also see in our capacity utilization that our scenario 3 was not going to be sufficient. We established a state of emergency which included getting resources across all of Cisco to assist so we could support our customers. Our own CEO, Chuck Robbins, joined our state of emergency bridge and gave us a single focus to tackle: “Do everything you need to do for our customer’s business continuity. You have the entire company behind you.”

Leverage your service providers early

Cisco is the number one manufacturer of networking equipment. We produce our own servers and have some of the best relationships in the industry with service providers. In the first week of March, we knew it was time to get all of the help we could across the company and our partners to support the business continuity plans of our customers and we were on a war footing to provide further capacity globally to Webex, led by our own CAP managers assisting in the coordination of 24/7 bridges with our vendors.

Decentralize decision making but keep a centralized Control Tower

Our COVID-19 scale-up was a unique type of incident management: its duration was nearly 100 days (from low to peak utilization), its scale was unprecedented (growing a mature business to 400%) and its impact broad (all parts of our Webex business were involved and needed coordination). Below is the process diagram that shows how we ran the efforts 24/7 for 100 days leveraging Webex Meetings itself for all the coordination.

Unified Incident Commander

Shield the scaling teams

The Change Commanders in the graph above were given full autonomy to do what they needed to sustain their area. They were also intentionally separated out of incidents and escalations by the Unified Incident Commander who was acting as a control tower for each of the scale and incident activities. This allowed the scaling team to stay focused on scaling the service while Incident Commanders were handling specific hot spots.

To give you a sense of what a 24h period on Webex looks like, you can see the graphs below. The only time of any reprieve on regional all-time high load increases was the 4h period between 22:00 and 02:00 UTC – when the sun is setting on the Americas and about to rise on APAC.

24h of load on Webex across regions
24h of load on Webex across regions

Late March | Education & Governments

By Monday, March 23rd nearly all companies, governments, and schools were sheltering in place. At this point, we had all of our processes and engagements in place, constrained only by the time-to-delivery of hardware. We could see countries around the globe lighting up as they used Webex for their business continuity plans. We also noticed a new wave of education customers around the globe who have their own discernible access patterns.

The unique access pattern of our education customers includes higher utilization of video joins, more utilization of recordings, meetings more concentrated in time, and high geographic density of participants. We quickly optimized network paths and expanded further into hyperlocal public clouds for these new education customers.

Early April | Getting ready for a second wave

The first week of April was the first time in 60 days where we saw less than double-digit growth week over week. In a twist of fate, security-aware governments and enterprises around the world noticed the security flaws with some of our competitors and some started a new migration to Webex. This meant we needed to prepare for a second wave of growth.

We had our new scaling machinery well-oiled by this point and leveraged the lessons learned from early March to accelerate our readiness for customers migrating to our secure platform. This included further scaling of our backbone, compute, storage, and public cloud extensions.

Late April | Second wave

The second half of April saw another increase of over 25% of our user base driven by a migration over from competitors to Webex. This increase was seamlessly achieved with our compute, storage, network, database, applications, and media scale-up teams able to scale to the new demand. Improved stability during this second wave is reflected in a decrease in customer-impacting incidents as shown by the graph below.

graph of Customer impacting incidents over time
Customer impacting incidents over time

The Webex process for ensuring service stability coped well, but with enormous growth and high rate of change there was some level of service disruption, predominantly in the critical month of March. In comparison, users of other comparable services experienced substantially more – up to 5x – outages throughout the Mar-May period and beyond.

May | The new normal and summer

The month of May landed us at 400% from our February baseline. This became our new plateau before a seasonal slowdown was driven by summer holidays and our education customers decreasing their number of meetings.

Promote and be an example of self-care

Under the Cisco-wide “Day for Me” program, we were given a day off on May 22nd which was for many of us on the Webex team the first day off in 100 straight days of work. It gave us the breather we needed, and it was a great way to celebrate our ability to handle the second wave of scale up gracefully.

Thank you

Our scale-up efforts were not as smooth in the early days of the shelter in place orders as we would have liked them to be. We hope, through the shared lessons above, that we can help the rest of our peer Site Reliability Engineers, Cloud Engineers, SaaS developers, and IT organizations learn from the processes and tools that helped us achieve what was arguably the biggest scale-up efforts most of us could have ever anticipated.

We also recognize that the story of scaling Webex is only a portion of the journey our customers went through and our IT counterparts in each of our customers’ organizations deserve an incredible amount of recognition for effectively executing on some of the most challenging business continuity plans we will face in our lifetime.

Finally, we at Webex are grateful to have been in a position to assist our customers, schools, hospitals, and governments around the globe in this unprecedented world event.

About the author

Panos Kozanian is a Director of Engineering responsible for the Webex Platform Organization. The Webex Platform Organization is responsible for all infrastructure assets: data centers, compute, storage and network and the PaaS layer that powers all Webex services, as well as collaboration services such as Common Identity, Control Hub and the Analytics Platform. Additionally, the Webex Platform Organization is responsible for reliability engineering, ensuring that Webex continues to be delivered with high availability and world class performance. Prior to this role, Panos led the Webex Teams Platform, establishing a modern DevOps & SRE culture supporting thousands of micro service instances and 1000+ developers. Throughout his career, he has held a number of leadership roles, including forming and leading Cisco’s Business Incubation lab, managing Cisco’s Digital Signage team, and leading Cisco’s Video Portal efforts. Panos joined Cisco in 2003 starting his career working on business incubations and executive demos. Panos earned a Bachelor of Science in computer engineering from Santa Clara University.

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Best practices for acing a virtual interview

Video conferencing for interviews

Life lately hasn’t exactly felt like” business as usual” for job seekers and businesses looking to hire. Many companies had to shift to remote workforces overnight, closing their physical offices and spaces.

This situation creates obvious challenges for the interview process. Yet many companies have forged on with hiring plans, particularly those businesses experiencing demand spikes.

Employers have increasingly utilized virtual interview settings but now rely on them entirely. And it’s worth considering that video conferencing interviews could very well become the norm in a post-pandemic world.

With that in mind, let’s look at some of the best tips and strategies for acing your virtual interview and making the impression that you set out to make.

  1. Dress for the job, not the couch

A common virtual meeting hack that many remote workers utilize is wearing sweatpants or shorts with a business professional top. With many stuck indoors all day, it can seem pointless to dress up if you can get away with this new trick — but you’re putting yourself at risk if you do so for an interview.

If you shift out of frame or get up without remembering you have pajamas on, it would reflect very poorly on your character. Such slip-ups have been documented countless times on social media amid COVID-19.

Consider that, at the longest, you’ll be interviewing for an hour, two hours at max. Make the effort to choose a professional outfit, as it shows your interviewers that you’re serious and motivated about this opportunity.

  1. Check your internet connection and hardware beforehand

Technical difficulties often derail meetings — yet they can often be resolved more quickly or avoided altogether by checking technology and the internet connection ahead of time. Imagine the problems you’d encounter if your internet cut out in the middle of an interview.

To ensure that everything is working properly, give all everything a once over:

  • Check that you have a stable connection to the Wi-Fi. Maybe keep an Ethernet cord and adapter as a backup.
  • Test your laptop or desktop camera and microphone. Make sure there’s no echo and the picture is high resolution.
  • Become familiar with the video conferencing tool, especially if you haven’t used it before. Know all the features and commands.

Taking these precautionary steps can avoid an embarrassing situation down the line that may negatively impact your interview.

  1. Prepare like you would for any other interview

It might seem like the rules are a little relaxed for virtual interviews (which can be seen in the dress-up hack employed by many). However, that could not be further than the truth. While seasoned employees might have more informal meetings, you should treat every virtual interview as if you were going in-person.

This is not the time to cut corners. Put in the time and effort to research the business, maybe even look at the LinkedIn profiles of the interviewers you’re scheduled to meet with.

Also, take the time to prep yourself and how you’ll convey your skills, knowledge, and experience. The virtual format can be foreign for many, so perhaps take some time to practice to yourself in the mirror. It’s not a cheesy trick at all, and doing so may help you feel more comfortable and confident in your ability to articulate your strengths, your interest, and why you’d be a good fit.

  1. Lean on body language

It can be difficult to gauge whether you’re getting your point across in a virtual meeting. One way to add emphasis or otherwise convey your message is to leverage your body language. Facial expressions can be used to show you’re intently listening or talking with excitement. If you use your hands a lot when you speak in-person, don’t retract yourself in the virtual environment. It can help give interviewers a clue as to your personality and character.

The other side of this consideration is to keep an eye on any bad body language. Never, ever slouch when you’re on a virtual interview, for example. If you’re surprised or puzzled by a question, try not to let that show through.

  1. Get away from distractions

You should set up your interviewing space as far away from distractions as possible. Yet that can be a challenge when family members are roaming about or your significant other is also working at home and on a conference call.

Make sure that you position yourself away from televisions and other screens that could catch your eye or otherwise cause a distraction. Also, it’s worth talking to whoever you live with about your schedule. If they know you’re on an interview at a specific time, they can take steps to minimize noise or disruptions, like barging in on your space and asking a question.

  1. Follow up with a video message

It’s best practice to follow up after every interview. One way to differentiate yourself as a job seeker is to record a quick video message thanking the interviewers for the time and reiterating your personal value proposition and interest in the position. If you use this tactic, make sure to follow all the steps to ensure you’re recording a high-quality video that will deliver the impact you desire.

These strategies and tips can help you nail your next virtual job interview. And if you’re looking for a video conferencing tool to help power your job search effort, consider using Cisco Webex.

Try Cisco Webex free, today!

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Best practices for hosting virtual interviews

6 winning strategies for a video conference interview

Working smarter: An interview experience from a (super fun!) virtual team

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Small business innovation and how you can learn from it

Building innovation in small business

Despite the pressures of the pandemic, small businesses still play a critical role in the modern economy.

In normal times, they create jobs, employ tens of millions of Americans, and provide an incredibly broad range of valuable goods and services. From a place to celebrate special occasions with family and friends to cutting-edge technology development, small businesses have a variety of important roles.

They can also be powerful innovators, developing new ideas, products, processes, and much more than others at businesses large and small can learn from. Let’s look at how small businesses innovate and the lessons that these achievements can provide.

Building a strong understanding of innovation

Innovation, when successful, is a dynamic process that yields an especially useful result: A new way of making or doing something, or a substantial improvement to a current product or workflow.

However, you don’t have to create a new process on the level of sliced bread – something that now seems like a given but has only been commercially produced for fewer than 100 years, as The History Channel explained, to have it qualify as innovation. Nor must you develop a successful range of electric cars and a new direct sales model for them. Innovation simply means improvement and invention, The Balance Small Business pointed out. Successful innovation can mean working with a current or new supplier to lower costs or developing stronger, more resilient packing for your products.

Small businesses have a few important advantages when it comes to innovation. They aren’t limited by the sometimes complicated approval processes and other systems put in place by larger companies, which generally help to ensure smooth operations but can potentially stifle creativity. The financial and operational pressures of maintaining a smaller organization can also force innovation by necessity. If a problem needs a solution, the owners of a small enterprise and their staff can focus on the issue and do whatever is in their power to resolve it.

Forbes Coaches Council member Nick Leighton said innovation for small businesses requires focus, critical evaluation of current operations, and the ability for leaders to work on the ground floor as well as in their executive or management capacity. These qualities aren’t limited to small-business stakeholders at well-funded or technology-focused startups. They can be applied to everything from sole proprietorships to retail businesses, manufacturers, and small companies in a variety of other economic sectors. One of the most important lessons to learn from small-business innovation is that the right attitude, approach, and dedication of time and resources can lead to positive developments and beneficial changes. And those qualities sit at the core of innovation.

Empowering innovative practices

In some ways, it’s not surprising that small businesses have a better reputation for innovation than larger enterprises. Lower employee numbers and, often, more humble resources mean more people work together in close quarters.

As long as employees can maintain a sense of professionalism and cooperation, their smaller circle and direct interaction can spark discussions about issues and opportunities for improvement. This, in turn, can set the stage for innovation, with many different employees able to contribute to the process. Encouraging this kind of collaborative work environment isn’t particularly difficult for many small businesses, either. The right conditions tend to arise naturally for many newer companies.

Innovation through collaboration can also be possible even when staff doesn’t work together in the same physical location. With remote work growing increasingly popular across the economy, small businesses can help staff connect to each other by hosting virtual meetings and setting aside time in the agenda to discuss issues, potential opportunities, and possible targets of innovation. Because employees may not have the same close connections that come with sitting next to each other on a daily basis and to generally facilitate a positive meeting experience, a dependable video conferencing solution is a must in these circumstances.

SCORE, an association of volunteer business mentors, pointed to another quality common among innovative businesses: Allowing room for experimentation and even failure. Companies always have to balance this factor with efficient, stable operations, but there is room for both in many small enterprises. Giving employees the appropriate time and resources to try out new approaches and flesh out potentially valuable ideas won’t always lead to success, but it will produce some useful and interesting concepts that could change a company for the better.

As long as staff members complete key tasks and handle core responsibilities in a consistent and responsible way, giving them the power to build less-structured time into their calendars can assist in spurring innovation. This ties into another point mentioned by SCORE, avoiding the temptation to isolate innovation. Allowing as many employees as possible to participate in the process, instead of designating some staff specifically as innovators, means a broader range of perspectives on more pertinent issues facing your business.

Making innovation practical for small businesses

When it comes to innovating as a small business, try not to force the issue. Give staff an appropriate amount of time and space to work out their own ideas, encourage group collaboration for more perspectives, take part in these sessions when possible, and remember that innovation doesn’t always need to be a totally transformational change. It just needs to be a positive one.

Cisco Webex supports effective collaboration for small businesses, whether focused on innovation or the many other times when your team needs to come together in a reliable, effective, and secure way.

Get started with a free plan today.

Learn more

Choosing the best small business tools for 2020

How do I expand my small-scale business without capital?

How to quickly create a company culture in a growing business

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Webex Meetings integrations let you work and play from wherever you are

Webex integrations to keep connected and productive

At the beginning of the pandemic, I introduced my family to Webex Meetings for our Sunday get-togethers. It was fun to see the grandparents, cousins, grandkids all using our amazing collaboration platform.

In the past months, we have shifted to getting things done completely remotely and have relied on Webex more than ever to keep us connected and productive with the highest level of security in the industry. We haven’t been in the office in over six months, but we have not missed a beat — whether it’s attending large conferences, team meetings, classes, virtually visiting our doctor or having family reunions, we have been able to carry on with our life and business, while socially distancing.

Webex has been at the center of all of these activities, but we’ve also had help from our partners. We’ve worked to integrate Webex with some of the most popular productivity tools on the market today and that has been instrumental in bringing great Webex meetings to broader audiences.

Remote Life on Webex

Nearly everyone is now using multiple collaboration and other types of apps during their daily life to stay connected and get work done. But if they want to have great meetings, the most popular apps are integrating with Webex, for scenarios like the ones we featured in this video:

Our kids may use Slack for messaging with their teacher and classmates and then have the need to jump into a Webex session to get clarification on a specific problem.

Our doctor could be chatting with colleagues on Microsoft Teams about a medical issue, and then escalate into a Webex instant meeting to continue the conversation in more detail.

A CEO may decide to livestream a company-wide townhall from Webex into Workplace from Facebook.

ZenDesk ticket open with Webex Meetings Integration

 

Streamlining daily workflows

Features within our deep integrations include real-time notifications that alert us at various parts of the process to ensure that we remain productive throughout our workday. For example, a Zendesk support agent can start an instant Webex meeting with the incident ticket submitter who will be notified to join the meeting and discuss the issue in more detail. These types of real-time communications empower workers to take action and speed up incident resolution time.

These types of interactions are made possible by deep integrations with our most trusted partners. We have been creating and improving our integrations with the goal of empowering frontline workers, streamlining workflows, and making transitions between apps seamless. We have many more great examples of how Webex integrates with your favorite tools. Webex continues to enhance integrations with other tools we use every day including CRM, learning management systems, software management, and productivity to provide the most efficient workflows. By improving workflows, we become more productive and are empowered to work smarter!

Get started with a free plan on Cisco Webex today!

Learn More

Webex Meetings August 2020 update: Increased security and media enhancement, custom background and music mode

Secure, first-party recording transcripts in Webex Meetings

Just say no to conference calls, and yes to collaborative meetings

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The impact video has on company culture
The impact video has on company culture

Demonstrating culture with video and communication

A company’s culture plays a major role in how engaged employees are, how successful the company is, and the way in which clients or customers view the organization as a whole. But this can be challenging to build and maintain when employees and other stakeholders aren’t able to easily work together.

The key to cultivating a strong and consistent culture throughout an organization is clear communication. Every employee should have a sound understanding of the core values of their company. Further, everyone should feel connected to those values as well. See how virtual backgrounds to inspire remote work culture: the Cisco Webex artist series

But there can be many barriers to good communication throughout an organization, and succumbing to those obstacles can weaken the company culture. The use of technology that keeps everyone on the same page can help immensely when building and maintaining these values.

Video conferencing tools for company culture

Specifically, here are five ways video conferencing tools can support company culture:

  1. Connect remote workers

Remote work has been on the rise and today, even more, people are working remotely. Now, companies are planning their return-to-work models, that will likely look different any employees will continue to work remotely even after the pandemic is over; 53.9% of respondents to a survey from the Institute for Corporate Productivity said they would likely increase flexible work arrangements on a more permanent basis.

Though remote work is becoming more popular, there are definite drawbacks to this sort of arrangement. One of the biggest challenges is loneliness, cited by 20% of respondents to Buffer’s survey. Making an effort to connect with workers through technology like video conferencing can help to bridge gaps between widely dispersed co-workers.

As remote teams become the new normal, it’s essential that companies establish processes to keep employees connected to one another. Video conferencing makes communicating with others simple, allowing them to converse about their projects and goals.

  1. Effectively collaborate on ideas

Team members must seamlessly collaborate on projects and ideas. However, discussing details of a project via email and phone can be difficult, especially when the topic at hand is visual in nature, such as slide shows, graphic design projects, and visual representations of data.

Another 20% of respondents to Buffer said collaboration is a major hurdle when working remotely. Video conferencing tools allow workers to share their screens so everyone can be on the same page. By enabling all team members to view the materials being discussed, everyone has the opportunity to weigh in on the discussion.

  1. Speak face-to-face with clients

When communicating with clients, discussions should flow smoothly. The relationship between client and vendor should be strong to continue a positive relationship. However, when obstacles like misunderstandings or difficulty connecting come up, it can be challenging to ensure the relationship is on the right track.

Video conferencing allows account managers and other stakeholders to clearly communicate with their clients. This software allows vendors to share important information such as slide shows, charts, imagery, or other data by using screen-share features.

Additionally, teams can invite all stakeholders to join discussions easily, no matter where they’re located, giving way to better cross-team collaboration. See how to share real-time data with customers through video conferencing

  1. Reduce work-related commute and travel

While much of business travel has been put on hold lately, it is something that has an impact on culture. Business travel often involves coordinating with various stakeholders, paying for transportation, lodging, and food, plus dedicating many hours to the requirements of traveling: waiting in line at an airport, renting a vehicle, and finding the way to a hotel in an unknown city, to name a few.

Instead of traveling, video conferencing allows people to hold important meetings without the hassle or expense of travel. Plus, it reduces instances of people not being able to make it to a meeting due to obstacles that don’t allow them to make the trip.

Beyond the type of long-distance travel that professionals may have to engage in to meet with far-away clients or stakeholders, the everyday commute into the office can also take a toll on workers. A Robert Half survey found that nearly one-quarter of employees have quit a job because of their commute, and 21% of respondents to Buffer’s survey said not having to make the trip to the office is the biggest benefit of remote work.

Leaning on video conferencing technology allows offices to improve morale and decrease unnecessary commutes without sacrificing productivity.

  1. Promote work-life balance

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is important for keeping employees engaged and satisfied in their jobs. That balance will differ for individual employees, who have unique home lives and priorities.

Remote work is an excellent tool for promoting a healthy work-life balance, no matter what that may look like for each unique worker. By allowing them to complete their work in their own homes, or on the road while they travel to visit loved ones or new places, they can maintain productivity during the workday and engage in their favorite activities once they sign off.

Video conferencing supports strong company culture

Organizational culture is critical to the success of a business and the happiness and productivity of employees. Being able to support worker and customer needs, such as work-life balance and ability to collaborate on important tasks, are primary components of this.

Video conferencing tools bring everyone together, no matter how far apart they are. Keeping everyone connected helps immensely in supporting a strong company culture.

Get started with a free plan on Cisco Webex today

Sources

News Release Bureau of Labor Statistics

The 2020 State of Remote Work

Nearly One-Quarter Of Workers Have Left A Job Due To A Bad Commute, According To Robert Half Survey

Understanding and Developing Organizational Culture

Learn more

Virtual backgrounds to inspire remote work culture: the Cisco Webex artist series

How to quickly create a company culture in a growing business

Screen sharing how-to-guide: Tips for better real-time collaboration

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RoomOS September update

It’s September, the leaves are turning, and we have been hard at work making your collaboration experience the best it can be.

Manual camera control for Desk Pro and Board

The Cisco Webex Desk Pro and Board automatically frame the person that is speaking, a feature called PresenterTrack. However, there are times where this is less desirable, for example while showcasing physical items. To solve this, we have released manual camera control. This allows the user to turn off the automatic framing and instead focus on a point of choice through the use of a software joystick. Check out the help article.

Music mode

In video meetings, we don’t want traffic noise or music from the radio in the kitchen to be transmitted. Therefore we use filters to filter out unwanted noise and transmit only your voice. For streamed concerts or video guitar lessons, however, we want to process the audio as little as possible for the most natural listening experience. This is why we’re introducing Music Mode. With Webex Music Mode, you can hear the dynamic range of the different instruments through your device. This is also available for Webex Meetings. Read more about Music mode.

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Call information in recent calls

This new feature will make it easier for admins to troubleshoot calls. Simply click on the calling tab to get a list of your recent calls, and you will be able to get a breakdown on the information about those calls, making troubleshooting that much easier. Learn more here.

Device configuration API for RoomOS

We are all about making customized collaboration seamless, and it is now possible for customers and partners to set configuration via API’s without needing direct access to the device, or even the device being online! The API allows admins to bulk configure devices registered to the cloud or with Webex Edge.

That’s it for September, but I promise we have a lot more in the pipeline. Stay tuned!

See how you can take your meeting experiences to the next level

Learn more

See all the Webex RoomOS releases

Room cleaning macro with Cisco Webex Rooms

Returning to work with Intelligent Room Capacity

Webex Device Management— The power of search!

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Confident Workspace
How to create a more confident and connected workplace

Truly connect with interpersonal interaction

Remote work has a significant and complicated impact on individuals and businesses.

The ability to work from home allows employees greater freedom over how they organize their days and manage their personal lives. At the same time, without a physical separation between the workplace and the rest of an employee’s day, work-life balance can begin to feel like a blurry concept that’s hard to define.

In this environment perhaps more than ever, it’s important for businesses to emphasize the human connection that ties team members together.

Instead of viewing one another as unrelated individuals quietly working by themselves to check off a string of disconnected tasks, companies need to help people come together. Learn How to launch a community with Webex Teams

Interpersonal interaction improves workforce well-being and boosts collective confidence

The answer for a more confident and connected workplace is greater interpersonal interaction.

Because of the greater flexibility provided by telework opportunities, colleagues may be based in locations far away from each other, limiting opportunities for them to chitchat in the break room, grab lunch together, or even just to say hello in the hallway.

Finding new opportunities for interpersonal interaction among geographically separated employees can lead to a wide range of positive outcomes.

Benefits for health

Summarizing a study originally published in Personality and Social Psychology Review, an article in Science Daily claimed that “health at work is determined to a large extent by our social relationships in the workplace – and, more particularly, the social groups we form there.”

The authors went on to note that health benefits seemed to be more significant when a greater number of people at the organization shared a feeling of connectedness.

This research indicates that, while one-on-one relationships are important, organizations need to do what they can to develop a greater sense of inclusion for everybody.

Improved productivity

There’s a huge difference in performance between workers who have strong connections with their colleagues and those who don’t.

It seems like common sense that greater interpersonal connection in the workplace could translate into better productivity. When people know, respect and value their colleagues, they’re naturally inclined to feel like they share responsibility and accountability with their peers. Why remote work can be more productive work

There’s evidence to support this claim.

For instance, Gallup found that people who reported having a best friend at work were “seven times more likely to be engaged.” Other positive performance indicators included better work and fewer workplace injuries.

Greater self-confidence and team morale

Feeling connected to teammates may have benefits for self-esteem and collective confidence, too.

Interacting closely with colleagues can help individuals develop greater self-confidence and improve a team’s sense of cohesion and shared accomplishment.

On the other hand, without the affirmation provided by close relationships, it can be difficult to achieve higher levels of self-esteem. Self-doubt can begin to take the place of mutual support.

The American Psychological Association highlighted a study first published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that claimed self-esteem and positive relationships go hand in hand, with one factor boosting the other. The study indicated that these results seem to hold true across a person’s life, even into advanced age.

To create this feedback loop between self-esteem and positive relationships, businesses need to cultivate greater personal interaction.

Techniques for encouraging interpersonal interaction

To achieve greater interaction between colleagues and associates, there are many strategies that businesses can use. The thoughtful application of telework technologies can help drive stronger human connection.

Promote virtual presence

Videoconferencing is a simple solution for enhanced communication. By enabling meeting participants to pick up on nonverbal cues from each other, attendees can more fully appreciate what their colleagues are saying. Using video for client meetings can also help establish a more personal connection with prospects and customers. Screen sharing tools can facilitate more thorough communication, assisting with collaboration, and allowing contributors to truly feel heard.

Another significant benefit of videoconferencing technology is the ability to record and archive demos and tutorials in their entirety. Sharing these resources can be a great way for colleagues to help keep one another informed about business operations.

Provide tools for work-life balance and interactivity

Employees feel more connected to their workplaces when they know they have the tools they need to adequately balance work responsibilities with their personal lives.

Remote work technology that enables workers to spend less time on their commute will help their personal interactions feel relaxed and natural.

Encouraging workers to use videoconferencing and collaboration tools also allow them to be more present with one another when they tackle projects together. When colleagues connect over a video chat line, their attention remains focused on the conversation at hand, not divided among other communication channels. Get the most out of work-life balance

Create digital communities

Collaboration tools and scheduled meetings are one component of a multifaceted approach to shared, community-based platforms that encourage interpersonal communication.

Standalone multifunctional groups, such as Webex Teams, enable greater interaction between colleagues and teammates. With limited outside distractions and a more relaxed atmosphere, online communities can serve as a virtual watercooler for impromptu check-ins and spontaneous chats.

There are many opportunities available from Cisco Webex to help you improve interpersonal interaction and nurture a more confident, connected workplace.

Reach out today for more information or a free trial.

Sources:

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graphic classroom and
Bridging hybrid classrooms with the Cisco Webex Board

Easy deployment and super friendly interface

Technology can be unnecessarily complex. Whether the screen was left on the wrong video input or the camera wasn’t connected – these kinds of disruptions that take valuable time away from teaching and learning. With Cisco Webex Rooms devices, technology isn’t an inhibitor to education – it’s the conduit.

Video device

There are plenty of touch screens in the market for education, but they sacrifice the most important factor of all: communication. With hybrid learning models on the rise, we need to ensure that the distance between the teachers and students doesn’t become a barrier to learning. According to Dr. Albert Mehrabian*, communication requires more than verbal interactions. It is made up of 7% of spoken words, 38% of voice and tone, and 55% of body language. If the students can’t hear or see the teacher, then some of the most important parts of the lesson can be lost. Capturing the teachers movements and tone of voice is essential to an engaging lesson.

Teachers, on the other hand, need to be certain that students can hear and see them without fault so they can focus on giving the class, not on managing the technology that enables class. The 4k camera of the Webex Board plus its 12 microphone array ensures that wherever the teacher is, they can be heard, seen, and understood.

Works with your favorite online education platform

For some time now, education has relied on digital platforms to distribute home assignments, review projects and homework, and store class material. The Webex Board can be set up with tools like Blackboard CourseSites and Canvas as Webapps so the teacher and student can interact with them directly on the Webex Board while on a call. Webex can also be integrated directly into the institution’s Learning Management System.

Annotate on all!          

In the case that the teacher feels more comfortable sharing material from their computer, Touch Redirect allows the teacher to interact with the computer as they would with a tablet by using touching the Webex Board. While using PowerPoint, for example, the teacher can go through slides by swiping their finger on the screen. When showing a 3D model, they can zoom in and rotate the model on the screen. Any content shared on the board can be annotated on by the teacher using the board or the students from their home devices. This encourages students to participate freely, while keeping their attention on the class, not on handling the tech. At the end of the class, all written notes are stored as whiteboards in spaces where teachers and students can access them.

The power of the Webex Assistant

Webex Assistant for Webex Meetings gives the teacher the option to record the lesson for future reference. Recordings may also include a transcript of the lesson and a selection of highlights. So, the teacher can help students find critical parts of the lesson faster and relate them to other lessons.

The Webex Board makes learning easy for teachings and students by providing the correct set of tools in video conferencing and interaction that modern hybrid learning requires.

Learn more about the all-in-one device for team collaboration 

Reference

Dr. Albert Mehrabian*

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