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Introducing Box integration for team collaboration
Box for Webex! Content has a new home on Box

During a time when many organizations have shifted to a nearly 100% remote workforce, Cisco Webex is introducing a new addition for enterprise content management on Webex Teams. It’s time to let go of your stacks of paper and say hello to Box for Webex!

Instant team collaboration, even when working remote

Remote teams need more than email chains, phone calls and static documents to most-effectively work together. Teams who are enabled to collaborate together on unified platforms, such as Webex, are able to co-create and share ideas as though they’re face-to-face, co-edit and make decisions much faster than through traditional means. The addition of Box to the enterprise content management feature set enables users to select Box as their document repository. Users can work together in real-time in Webex Teams, by sharing and viewing box content directly within the unified app.

Sharing and Viewing Box Content within unified app

Share and view files from Box

Share your Box files with everyone in a space and view the full file in a pop out window.

See file previews

See a preview thumbnail of shared files to quickly identify what the document is.

Update file sharing security setting

Ensure only the right users have access to shared files.

Box content is accessible and shareable from within Webex Teams and does not index the shared content in Webex Teams. The only metadata that is stored by Webex Teams is the file name and file type, so you know your data is secure.

Set up in minutes

If you already collaborate on Webex Teams, you can enable the Box integration through Control Hub, and access the content management settings to configure Box for users, or on a global level.

Services –>Message Setting–>Content Management–>Edit Settings

ECM 1.3 Adding a file from BoxNow more than ever, as workplaces transform, it is critical to have a seamless workstream of technology and tools that help you get work done. Cisco Webex and Box are here to help. We are working on ways we can deepen and expand how Webex can interoperate with the Box platform to ensure seamless, secure collaboration for users and admins, that will deliver best-in-class experiences.

For the full deployment guide on ECM configuration visit help.webex.com and start collaborating with your team using Box with Webex Teams.

Learn More

Embracing the rise of remote working

Administrators’ 3-step guide to managing devices remotely

Working smarter anywhere— Working remotely

Read more
Idea in a conversation box and a lightbulb
Make your voice heard with the User Community Feedback Portal

Here at Webex, we understand that innovation can come from anywhere, whether it’s from our engineering team, our partners, or passionate users like yourself. We want your feedback on new features or suggestions on how we can make our product even better for you. The User Community Feedback Portal is now open in the Webex Community, so submitting your ideas has never been easier. 

The User Community Feedback Portal 

What exactly is the User Community Feedback Portal? It’s the place to go in the Webex Community to offer new product ideas, make suggestions for current feature improvements, and even vote on other community members’ ideas. We always appreciate feedback and want you to have a voice in making Webex the best collaboration platform it can be. Here’s how it works: 

  • Go to the Webex Community and click on the Share a Product Idea tab 

Webex User Community

  • Explore Recent, Trending, or Popular submissions, filter based on the category, and even vote on ideas you like.

User Community

  • If you want to post your own idea, simply click the Add a new idea button and fill out the form before submitting. It’s that easy.

User Community Feedback

Add a new idea

Every category in the User Community Feedback Portal is assigned to a Webex product manager (PM) who can update requests with product timelines and status updates, so you know exactly what’s going on with your (or any other) suggestion.

How to vote

Even if you post your own ideas in the portal, you can still vote on other suggestions or innovations that you like. Once you find an idea worthy of your vote, click on the VOTE icon to the left of the idea. You’ll also see the number of votes the idea already has here, too. Once you click the VOTE icon, the box will turn green.

Virtual Background

Vote on something by mistake? Simply click the icon again to take it back. Here are some other things to consider:

  • Vote on any idea you really want to see come to fruition.
  • You can retract your vote on any idea if you changed your mind or if you don’t see if getting a lot of votes.
  • You’ll get an email notification if someone comments on the idea in the portal or the status changes.

There are so many ideas already posted in the Webex Community, so go check them out. We’re excited to see what brilliant ideas you have and can’t wait to start putting some of these suggestions into action. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me at cocallah@cisco.com.

Submit your idea today!

 

Cole Callahan, Webex Community Manager

About Cole – Cole manages the Webex Communities, including the IT Admin, Adoption Champions, and User Communities. He’s a kayak fanatic, and proud father to his incredible Foxhound, Daisy. He’s passionate about connecting customers, users, and admins with Webex.

Cole is a recent Ball State graduate and award-winning documentarian (seriously!) who has previously launched online communities for other organizations. As the Community Manager here at Cisco, Cole launched our community spaces, engages with members, encourages conversations, and is your go-to guy for everything relating to Webex Communities. Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn.

 

Learn More

How to launch a community with Webex Teams

A broadcasters How to Guide to live stream Webex

Live streaming with Webex Meetings for your virtual events: What’s new and how to use it

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Confident businessman looking at camera and talking, discussing strategy with partners online, making video call, business coach mentor recording webinar, hr manager holding distance job interview
Best practices for hosting virtual interviews

Hosting the virtual interview

Interviews are perhaps the most critical part of the hiring process. They allow your company to get to know applicants and assess both their role-specific knowledge and soft skills, as well as their interpersonal abilities and overall fit. Similarly, they help potential hires better understand the role they are applying for and overall company culture in a way that goes beyond a job posting or “About Us” section of your organization’s website.

Luckily, digital tools for video conferencing and connecting with others have made it easier for businesses to find the right applicant. Let’s look at the value of virtual interviews and three best practices for hosting them.

Interviewing in a virtual world

Since the beginning of the year, 86% of organizations have shifted to virtual interviews.* Though, Lauren Smith, vice president in the Gartner HR practice, said that “many recruiting functions were already conducting virtual interviews, including using video interviewing technology for remotely located candidates; however, this now is the norm for all candidates given the current environment.” It’s showing organizations what can be done—in expanding reach, saving time and money.*

The right video conferencing solution puts people face-to-face, authentically simulating the in-person interview experience without requiring the interviewers and interviewees to be in the same place, at the same time.

Virtual interviews enable businesses to search far and wide for the most qualified new hires, regardless of where they’re located. Applicants, meanwhile, don’t have to try to coordinate complicated travel plans if they don’t live near your company’s offices or drastically re-arrange their schedules if they do.

Best practices drive productive virtual interviews

A dependable video conferencing platform is the foundation of consistently positive remote interviews. The following best practices can help your organization make the most of these opportunities.

  1. The right tools, time, and preparation

As the organization hosting the interview, your team should be prepared and extend the same courtesy to interviewees. That means making the date, time, and expected duration clear as soon as possible, so candidates and internal stakeholders alike can block off time on their calendars.

Having the right video conferencing platform is also crucial. A dependable and accessible platform will:

  • Be widely accessible with standard web browsers and operating systems.
  • Offer compatibility with basic video conferencing tools, like built-in cameras.
  • Allow your company to record parts or all of the call, if necessary. In these cases, your business needs to provide the relevant disclosures and consent forms, as Monster explained.
  • Not require the applicant to pay for software or setup.

Sharing a link to the meeting and specifying the software to be used allows candidates to ensure everything is in good working order before the interview starts. That ultimately saves everyone time.

While not a requirement, your company can offer to set up a short test call ahead of time to ensure everyone can connect as planned. You can also leave it up to candidates to ask for a test call before the interview, as an increasing number of professionals are familiar with video conferencing systems.

  1. Creating a professional environment

Thoughtful, professional candidates take care to make a good first impression. Your company should do the same thing.

A professional environment isn’t just for the office. A professional environment can be created anywhere you are. Set up your computer and run a test call with a teammate to make sure the area is clean, uncluttered, and has appropriate lighting. You should also check on technical specifications like the resolution of your webcam, your position relative to it – adjust your chair height or move the webcam to reach the desired result – and the output volume of your microphone. Remote employment service, FlexJobs, also recommended making it clear that you’re conducting an interview:

  • Close the door and put up a sign or other reminder that an interview is in progress.
  • Schedule the time on your calendar in advance.
  • Silence your phone.
  • Close other programs on your computer to avoid slowdowns and notifications from popping up during the interview.
  1. Consistency in interviewing

Some best practices that apply to in-person interviews are just as relevant for virtual ones. Preparing interview questions ahead of time, and using a standardized format for all interviewees, is especially important.

This approach helps to create a level playing field for everyone involved. While the responses of candidates can and should lead to more individualized follow-up questions and comments, having potential hires answer the same foundational questions provides a consistent basis for comparison. It can also assist in removing unconscious biases from the interview and hiring processes.

Video conferencing helps your company find the best candidates

Drawing from a local talent pool is often valuable, but casting a wider net potentially means bringing in more qualified applicants. This can help fill positions faster without sacrificing quality and keep your company operating at peak levels.

Virtual interviews simulate the entire in-person interview process, allowing for subtle indicators like body language and tone of voice to be just as clear as they are in person. Leveraging this valuable tool is simple with a little planning and preparation.

Give your company the tools it needs to successfully host virtual interviews — get started with a free Cisco Webex plan today

Reference

86% of companies are conducting job interviews via video conference

Learn More

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

6 winning strategies for a video conference interview

Interview with an Online Training Expert

Read more
woman on screen on a video chat
Returning to work with Intelligent Room Capacity

Intelligent room capacity with people counting technology

I was discussing meeting room design and how to help companies make safe use of them once we go back to the office. One of the things you might want to control is the maximum number of people in a meeting room at any one time, so you need some form of people counting technology. Cisco has you covered!

All Webex Room, Board and Desk series devices come with intelligent people counting sensors directly embedded without any additional cost. These were first designed to help crop the image for video conferencing use cases like “Speaker Tracker” and “Best Overview”. But why stop there? Cisco has exposed these as APIs which can also be used to  track heads within spaces all of which is anonymous and opt in.

Webex Rooms built-in macro editor

At first I thought I would need to run extra systems to get this working and spend  unknown time and effort, then it hit me – Webex Rooms devices have a macro editor directly on the device which can solve many use cases. Every now and again you think to yourself “surely it can’t be this simple?” Well, in this case, it was. I already use the macro editor to control the lighting in my office at home and to make a light door change color whenever I’m on a call. Could it be so simple as to hook in the people counting API and perform some actions depending on the value?

I reached out to Dirk-Jan on Webex Teams, one of my colleagues who is known for his unpronounceable last name and amazing knowledge of Cisco API programming and asked “Is there a way to run a macro when the number of people changes”? Fifteen minutes pass and my screen fills with 20 lines of code “Try this.” Half an hour of testing of which the hardest part was to round up family members in our home to trigger the alert and it was done!

Webex Rooms devices: Bringing new dimensions to the workspace

It was almost too simple to be true – the Webex Room device can activate a macro every time the number of detected people in room changes, compare this to the maximum room capacity which can be set directly at the top of the Javascript file, and take an action accordingly. In the past, the device would only count people that were looking directly at the camera, but recent optimisations mean it will now also detect people regardless of which way they are facing. This truly unlocks a new dimension of how to use the device to add value within the workspace.

In less than an hour, I built an AI-powered application in a system that is already present in meeting rooms without requiring any additional equipment or licenses.

I reached out to the the Webex Rooms R&D team and we decided this was just too good to keep underwraps. So we have decided to release this code today on Code Exchange for free to use and modify. Allowing all administrators to easily provision and adopt to their needs without the need to go and find a developer.

Download the macro.

This is just one of many ways Webex Room devices can do way more than video calls. Check out device programming  and the great sample library on DevNet.

Learn More

See all the Webex RoomOS releases

Webex Device Management— The power of search!

Working smarter anywhere – Working remotely 

How to launch a community with Webex Teams

Read more
A broadcasters How to Guide to live stream Webex

Learn more about the broadcasting world, with step by step guides to stream Grid View, Overlays and to simultaneously stream to YouTube, LinkedIn, and Facebook with Webex.

Webex stream to YouTube.

Do you listen to podcasts? Watch YouTube or even Twitch? Then let me take you behind the scenes into the world of the tools used in live streaming. In this article, you will learn how to use the video meetings application, Webex, and set up virtual backgrounds, live stream in grid view, add overlays, and even stream to multiple platforms simultaneously. There are more things to learn when it comes to streaming, but this article is meant to get you comfortable with live streaming as a broadcaster. If you want to learn the simple way to live stream, check out this blog.

Below is a diagram of the various streaming workflows and applications you can use to achieve the broadcast of your choice. This guide is broken down into three sections: Live Speaker Overview & Setup, Broadcast Software Setup, and Streaming Platform Setup. Each section will go over the installation and configuration process to set up your live broadcast.

Live streaming tools and application workflow.

If you are new to streaming, check out this blog first on how to plan and set up your first Webex live stream.

Overview: Broadcast & streaming platform features

There are many other applications out there that can achieve your use case. This guide is not meant to be the ultimate solution, but more of a way to get your feet wet on streaming. Once you have decided what you want your broadcast to look like and how you want to stream it, this feature matrix helps break down various broadcasting software features from VBrick, REC.VC, OBS, and Restream.


Streaming Tools Feature Breakdown.

Section Topics
1. User 1 — Host: Install OBS, Loopback; Webex Tips & Tricks
2. User 2+ — Panelists and Virtual Background

Participant practice session. Webex Desk Pro (right) and Webex DX80 (left).

We will now break down the first column of the live streaming workflow. This section will go over OBS, Loopback, and Webex tips and tricks for the host and also tools that panelists can use for virtual backgrounds.

1. User 1 — Host: install OBS, loopback; Webex tips & tricks

You can refer User 1 as part of the studio crew or the video producer. They have three main tasks. They are to run OBS, Loopback, and manage the Webex panelists. The Webex host won’t participate in the video feed. This user will only manage the panelists, push users in and out of the Lobby, remove the floating icons, mute users, and pin the main video users in the grid view. Below is a short list of things the Host has to do.

Install OBS
To minimize Murphy’s law, make User 1, the dedicated machine to run OBS or Open Broadcaster SoftwareUser 1 will have a dedicated laptop to stream to the various platforms like YouTube. This must be a very high-end device as it will be streaming 1080p, which can max out its x264 encoder or GPU. Without a good laptop or machine, there can be a huge impact on the system, causing the framerates of your video to suffer and making the whole experience unenjoyable for the viewer. This software will provide the Grid View, or some would like to say Hollywood Squares or the Brady Bunch view. Basically, OBS is your desktop screen capture application that will send a stream out to your platform of choice. The Broadcast Software section will go over the setup process of OBS.

Install Loopback
Next, install Loopback from Rogue Amoeba. This is not a free application and it is a Mac app that reroutes audio from one piece of hardware or software to another. It’s best to think of it as a software pipe that pretends it has a hardware device on each end: audio input on one and audio output on the other. This application will be used to reroute audio from Webex to OBS. I also use this to also stream Spotify into the meeting and use my Cisco Headset 730 to monitor the session. We will go over the setup of this in the next section. Note: There’s a lot of other free virtual audio drivers out there, and for non-Mac users, you can use VB Cable or Virtual Audio Cable.

Webex Tips & Tricks
There are a lot of things to think about now that you are a broadcaster. A few things to be aware of:
CPU – 
Shut down unnecessary applications as OBS will consume a lot of CPU resources especially if you don’t have a dedicated GPU on your machine. It’s best to use devices with an NVENC H.264 New (GPU Encoding for Nvidia Graphics Cards) or an AMD H.264 (GPU Encoding for AMD GPUs).
LAN – 
Avoid WiFi. Hardwire if necessary as this is a live stream.
Disable VPN – You want to remove as much latency as possible.

Improve and control your meeting experience. Follow these steps to set up your stream. Here, you want to Mute users joining your meeting and disable sharing in the event someone accidentally shares their desktop. Once you have your Webex Meeting desktop application open, proceed with these settings.

Step 1: Go to Participant -> Mute on Entry and enable it and also de-select “Anyone Can Share.

Enable Mute on Entry & Uncheck Anyone Can Share.

Step 2: Go to View -> Show or Hide Meeting Controls. You want to enable this. In the following picture, you’ll see the meeting controls. You want to hide that during your broadcast.

Uncheck to Hide the Meetings Controls.

Step 3: Understand the Host Lobby feature. Here as you can have speakers rotate in and out of your call and you can control who is showing up on the video grid by pushing them into the Lobby.

Waiting in the Lobby function.

You can also move people into the lobby once they are done speaking by right-clicking on the participant name.

Move to the Lobby feature.

Step 5. Leave the Host “Un-muted” in Webex. If you do not, then no audio will pass through OBS and to the other panelists. Also, you don’t have to worry about any noise being picked up as the physical microphone is not connected to the virtual driver.

Unmute & Lock this thumbnail setting.

Step 6. As you hover your mouse over the participant, you can select “Lock this thumbnail video on a specific participant.” This option can lock the video focus of the main video on a specific participant, or the active speaker. Pins can help you determine whose video you and your participants see.

TIP: If you will be moving people in and out constantly or doing any of the above, then the Host privilege should be passed to another participant and you would leave Webex in full window mode for the OBS setup.

2. User 2+ — Panelists and virtual background

For your other users speaking on the live stream, the best hardware to use is a dedicated video device. I prefer using a Webex Room USB or what I’m using is a Webex Desk Pro as my dedicated SIP endpoint. It’s a 4K display that has a 12 MP HD camera, 71-degree field of view, 8 element microphone array with audio fencing with low audio latency, auto-framing, auto-focus, 3.1 directional speaker array, and overall fewer points of failures since I don’t need other external devices like hardware switchers, encoders, O/S and other applications running in the background found on a PC. Basically, think of the Desk Pro and Room USB device as a high-end dedicated webcam with a ton of advanced features. If you are using a laptop, make sure you have a headset. I have a Cisco Headset 730. It is boom less design coupled with adaptive noise cancellation and background noise reduction. If you don’t have a nice high-end headset, then a regular mobile headset can work very well too.

Virtual Backgrounds, Chroma Key: For your panelists’ that do not have access to a premium video conference unit, then a basic webcam or DSLR would work as well. With the USB functionality, you can use OBS Chroma Key, Manycam, or Snapchat’s Snap Camera to provide virtual backgrounds. These are some of the many applications that are out there, but this article won’t go into a deep dive into this.

Webex Desk Pro with Virtual Backgrounds.

TIP: Note that when you’re live streaming using a software encoder, you’re already putting the computer’s CPU at additional load. Most virtual background software apps require extremely beefy CPUs like a quad-core 4th-gen Core i7 or 3GHz processors with 8 cores or more. In this article, I have my Cisco Webex Desk Pro with the built-in background filters for my stream. It won’t consume any CPU cycles on my laptop since all the work is done on the endpoints NVidia GPU chipset.

Manycam

Manycam is a live-streaming service and a program that allows users to use their webcam with multiple different video conferencing applications and video streaming applications simultaneously for Windows and Mac computers. In this article, I will just focus on the virtual background setup.

NOTE: With one of the latest Webex Desktop updates, a new “hardened” security compilation method on OS X was put in place so that only libraries that are signed by Cisco or Apple are loaded. This applies not only to Manycam but other third-party applications such as CamTwist, Ecamm, CameraLive, EpocCam, Snap Camera, etc. Since they are from third parties, the Webex Desktop app (for Meetings and Events) will not allow them to load. The way to bypass this is to use the browser version for Webex Meetings.

Step 1. Open Manycam and go to Presets and Add a Video Source -> Webcam
Step 2: Go to Chroma Key -> (Toggle On) Virtual Background -> Blur or Replace to select your background in the drop-down window.

Background blur and Virtual background features.

Step 3: Open your browser. Since I’m using chrome, so go to the toolbar and enter -> chrome://settings/content/camera and select ManyCam Virtual Webcam

Google Chrome camera settings.

Step 4: Open up Webex in browser mode. Once you have set that up, you will now see the Manycam Virtual camera video sent to Webex Meetings.

Webex Meetings, browser mode with Manycam virtual background.

Section Topics
1. Admin — Webex Control Hub setup
2. Webex Direct Stream to YouTube
3. Loopback Audio Setup
4. Broadcasting Specs & OBS Setup
5. OBS: Audio
6. Audio Check
7. OBS: Grid View
8. OBS: Overlay
9. OBS: Direct Stream to YouTube

This section will be about User 1, the Host, as that machine will handle these configurations below. This section also demonstrates the “Direct Stream” YouTube use case and using OBS.

1. Admin — Webex Control Hub setup

Webex Control Hub: With the video hardware in place, your Webex admin needs to enable the RTMP streaming services in the Webex Control Hub.

Enable Common Platform Settings and End-User Settings. (Gif)
  • Go to the Webex Meeting Sites -> Common Settings and then check off the services you want. Personally, I like to enable everything to give the user all the options. Here you can enable IBM Video Streaming, Facebook Live, VBrick Rev, and “Other Streaming Services” which is the RTMP option for YouTube, Periscope, and Facebook Workplace.
  • Next, you have to enable Live Streaming for the End User. Go to “User” and the person you want the service enabled for and click on “Cisco Webex Meetings.”
  • Next, click on “Advanced User Settings and Tracking Codes
  • Once here, click on “Enable Live Streaming

End-User Streaming Test: Once the admin settings are completed, you can go test it out. Note that this is a “Direct Stream” setup.

Starting a live stream. (Gif)
  • Start Webex Meetings and then go to “Start Live Streaming.”
  • Then go to the streaming service you want to use. Here we will stream to YouTube which is found on “Other streaming services.”
  • Finally, add the streaming service information in the fields below. The next section will outline how to stream to YouTube and what data to enter in the fields. We will come back to this section later.

2. Webex direct stream to YouTube

The YouTube Live module can be used to broadcast to both desktop and mobile devices. This section shows how to obtain the Stream Name and Stream URL from YouTube Live as well as set up the Custom RTMP account. Note that if this is your first time doing a YouTube live stream, your account may take up to 24 hours to be approved and provisioned.

  • First, go to studio.youtube.com -> Create -> Go live
  • Go to Stream -> New Stream -> Create Stream. Make sure to enter the appropriate information such as Title, Description, Public or Private, and other options for your use case. For this exercise, we will pick Private to test the broadcast. Once you click Create Event, YouTube saves the changes and you’re almost ready to stream.

YouTube Studio New stream setup.
  • Next, you will copy the YouTube RTMP information and go back into the Webex Streaming Meeting fields. Remember that the Stream Key is a “key.” Keep it private.
  • Copy YouTube: Stream Key -> Paste into Webex: Target stream key
  • Copy YouTube: Stream URL -> Paste into Webex: Target stream link

API Key from YouTube to Webex.
  • Everything is now configured. You’re almost there. It’s now time to make sure that YouTube is receiving your live stream and that everything looks how you expect.

Preview the Live Stream: The YouTube Live Studio Event page is the best place to preview your video to see how it will appear when you go live. Note that the video preview is not available immediately after the stream is started. Depending on network bandwidth, it might take a few seconds to a few minutes after starting the stream until YouTube indicates that the stream signal is being received. Refresh the page at intervals to check.

  • When YouTube says the signal is Good, you know Webex is sending your video stream to YouTube.
  • Click Preview to prepare your stream for preview on the Live Control Room page; YouTube processes the stream for a moment.
  • Press play in the preview player to begin to play the event preview.

  • That’s it. You started your first stream! Just double-check and verify the “Stream Status” section for any problems or warnings. You can see that the live stream also includes a “via Cisco Webex” overlay in the top left corner.

3. Loopback audio setup

Now on to setup Loopback which will be used to bridge the audio from Webex to OBS. From this section forward, you want to make sure Webex is running.

Step 1: Make sure the Webex Meetings application is open. Then add the Cisco Webex Meetings app by clicking on the “+” icon in the Sources area.

Step 2: Edit the driver’s name by clicking on the pencil or edit icon. Here, I named it “Webex Live Stream Audio” and this will be exposed into the systems device drivers as this name. Note, going forward I will call Webex Live Stream audio, WLSA going forward.

Add a Virtual Driver name and add Webex as a Source.

Step 3: Once the Meetings app is added, click the down arrow and un-check “Mute when capturing”.

Step 4. Then go to your Mac. System Preferences -> Sound -> “Input” as well as “Output”. You will now see “Webex Live Stream Audio”. Make sure to select this for both.

TIP: Webex is optimized for speaking. If there is any other noise like a guitar or music, Webex will think it is background noise and will try to remove it. So if you want to stream from Spotify, just stream a podcast.

4. Broadcasting specs & OBS setup

OBS is a switcher, compositor, and renderer. There are OBS plugins that do a ton of cool stuff with the right support applications and has a steep learning curve. What I’ll share is just a tip of the iceberg of what OBS can do, but for now, we will just stick to a big use case, which is the audio setup, overlay and grid view.

First, to have a stable stream and avoid dropped frames, the information below will help you choose your encoding, resolution, bitrate, and framerate settings. These tweaks will provide the right balance live stream, internet speed, and your computer’s hardware. Here is a great article on the OBS forum with their Stream Bit Rate Calculator that you can calculate for your own broadcast.

OBS Stream Bit Rate Calculator.

I used a 2017 Macbook Pro, 2.8 GHz Quad-Core Intel i7 for this setup. Based on my Speedtest results and x264 specs. This is what I entered into OBS.

Step 1. Go to Settings -> Output Mode -> Advanced:

Enforce streaming service encoder settings: Un-check
Rescale Output: Un-check
Rate Control:
 CBR
Bitrate: 4000 kbps
Keyframe Interval: 2 seconds
Preset: Ultrafast
Profile: Main

OBS Output streaming settings.

Step 2Go to Settings -> Video:

Resolution: 1280×720
Downscale Filter: Lanczos
Framerate:
30 fps

Video Settings.

5. OBS: Audio

Now that Loopback’s drivers are installed, let’s now configure OBS.

Step 1: Open OBS and go to Settings. By default, OBS isn’t in Studio Mode. This is the view you are seeing below. You will have two screens. The right screen will be the active scene for your Webex meeting. The left screen shows a preview of the editable scene. There is a Transition button in between the two screens. You can choose the Transition button to edit a scene before you show it to your audience.

OBS in Studio Mode & Settings button.

Step 2. Select WLSA at: Audio -> Devices -> Mic/Auxillary Audio -> Webex Live Stream Audio and Advanced -> Monitoring Device -> Webex Live Stream Audio.

6. Audio check

With Webex running, make sure you set the Speaker and Microphone to WLSA.

Webex audio settings.

To close out the audio setup. Remember that there at least four different applications to configure to make sure that audio from Webex is streamed to OBS and to YouTube.

7. OBS: Grid view

Let’s now set up OBS to capture Webex Grid View.

Step 1: Once we add users to the call, we can enable Grid View in Webex Meetings.

Grid View toggle.

Grid View in 2×2 format.

With Webex now showing grid view, you need to open and configure OBS to stream this format out.

Step 2: Open OBS.
Step 3: Go to Sources, click the “+” button, and select “Display Capture” and create a Name if you like and click “OK.” Note that using the “Display Capture” which provides the best streaming results with minimal latency vs. the“Window Capture” option in OBS.
Step 4: Select the Display where Webex is on. I have a dual-screen setup so I select Display “0”.
Step 5: Go to Crop -> and select “To Window”.
Step 6: Next go to Window -> look for “Window: [Cisco Webex Meetings]” and select OK. You can now see that OBS is only capturing Webex and there is a red box on the black screen. The black screen is the area that will be captured and sent to your streaming platform.

Display Capture settings.

Step 7: With OBS open and now with users and the screen resized, you can see that it is capturing my desktop. On the left side is Webex Meetings and the Participants list open shown by the red arrow in Figure 1 below.
Step 8: In the OBS picture below, you can drag the window you want to broadcast by selecting the red borderlines in the right picture in Figure 1.

In Figure 1, you will see OBS only capturing the grid view. Obviously, you don’t want to share the Participants list. You will see with the red arrow that the rest of the Webex Meetings window isn’t being, meaning it won’t be part of the broadcast. This enables you as a host, to control the participants during your live stream. Overall, you just want to share the video.

Figure 1: Webex Meetings being captured in real-time in the OBS in Window Capture view.

Tip: Depending on your setup, you can change your video layout and learn to use the “Fit to Screen” option. To access this feature, Right-click window you want to select and go to “Transform” -> “Fit to screen.”

8. OBS: Overlay

  • To set up an overlay or watermark image. Go to Scene -> “+” icon -> and give it a name like “Live Stream
  • Next, we will add an image. For this example, I will use a “via Cisco Webex” overlay.
  • Go over to the next box, Source -> “+” icon -> Create New -> and give it an image name.
  • Next, you can resize and move your overlay to where you want it to appear on OBX for the live stream. Here, I placed the logo in the top left corner.

Scene Setup, Source Overlay, and image resize. (Gif)

Step 3: Make sure to bring the image to the front. Right-click on the image by going to “Order” -> “Move Up.

Overlay image “move up” feature.

Once complete, you can now see the overlay with Webex Grid View.

Grid View + Overlay.

9. OBS: Direct stream to YouTubeStep

Step 1. Finally, enter your YouTube API Key and click OK.

OBS Stream Settings for YouTube.

Viola! Congratulations on your first Grid view with an overlay live stream. Click “Start Stream” to begin streaming!

YouTube Studio Live Stream.

TIP: To ensure a smooth stream, check the stats in OBS to make sure there are no dropped frames. Go to: View -> Stats.

You will want Dropped Frames to be at 0%, this is the number of frames that you have dropped total. If frames are dropping that typically means you are over tasking your computer or internet. If you’re dropping frames, you can try setting your “CPU Preset” in OBS’ Output settings to something faster.

You will want to keep your CPU to be less than 80%. If this reaches 100% it can result in dropped frames. You can try setting your “CPU Preset” in OBS’ Output settings to something faster if this is an issue.

There are several articles online that can help you tweak these settings.

OBS Stats.

Section Topics
1. REC.VC: Grid View & Single Stream
2. Restream.io: OBS & Multi-stream

This section will cover streaming using REC.VCOBS, and OBS with Restream. As mentioned before, each application purpose based on your use case.

1. REC.VC: Grid view & single stream

The platform from MNS.VC is the simplest and quickest way to stream up to a 5×4 layout directly from Webex Meetings and even Webex Events. This can be hosted privately on REC.VC or publicly live-streamed to third-party RTMP destinations including Facebook, Workplace, and YouTube.

REC.VC captures the video, audio, and content by being a SIP/H.323 video participants in the Webex session. How does this look like? Take, for example, seven people are in a meeting with REC.VC. From your endpoint, you will only see 6 people and not yourself (unless you activate self-view). It is the same with REC.VC, it is just another endpoint receiving the video composition from Webex, excluding itself. Below is an example of the formats you can achieve.

Credit: MNS.VC — WebexGrid View layout examples.

Step 1: Sign up for a 14-day trial here.

Step 2: In the REC.VC user interface, enter your video address (SIP or H.323 URI) of the meeting. In the PIN field, enter the PIN with the format you want. The video composition can be preconfigured to one of the other Webex Video Layouts.

Step 3: Go to Source -> Video Conference.

Step 4: Toggle “Stream” to “On

Step 5: Enter the RTMP URL from YouTube.

Step 6: Go to studio.youtube.com and find your RTMP stream URL and Stream Key and copy them into the RTMP URL of REC.VC.

REC.VC RTMP setup.

Step 7: Enter the video address (SIP/H.323 URI) in the Source Address.

REC.VC Source & PIN configuration.

Step 8: Figure out your streaming format. Enter the PIN for the layout you want to achieve.

REC.VC PIN format.

Video layout setup via PIN codes.

Step 9: Click on the STREAM button.

Step 10: Go back to YouTube to check your steam. You will have to wait a few seconds to see it start.

The video layouts covered in this post is when content is not shared in the video meeting. If you want to share content, you can learn more here.

Finally, if you want to stream to multiple platforms simultaneously, that is possible with REC.VC by just adding another REC.VC SIP participant in the meeting.

TIP: For those with a dedicated Webex Rooms device, check out this cool live stream, One-Button-to-Push Macro from MNS.VC that uses a Touch10 to start a YouTube broadcast.

2. Restream.io: OBS & multi-stream

Restream is another cloud application that allows you to broadcast Webex on as many streaming platforms as you want simultaneously, including LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube. Once you have everything in Section II set up, you can now begin this multi-stream.

Step 1: Sign up for a Restream.io account.

Step 2: Set up the streaming platforms you want. You will have to authenticate to these services.

Restream integrations.

Step 3: Once you enable the streams you want. You will also copy the Stream Key and paste it into OBS.

Step 4: Open OBS and go to Settings -> Stream -> Restream.io — RTMP and Paste the key and click OK.

OBS & Restream.io stream key setup.

Step 5: Once you are back at the main OBS Studio window, go to Start Streaming to begin your stream.

Start Streaming with OBS.

Now you’re all set! Your stream is seamlessly delivered to all your connected platforms.

Below you will see all the applications working together to stream to YouTube. Congratulations and welcome to the world of broadcasting!

Studio Dashboard: The final product stream to YouTube.

Conclusion

Don’t be overwhelmed. You can do this! Just practice and experiment. Once you have all this configured and setup, to execute another live stream only takes <5 minutes. Streaming can be confusing at first, but it’s not as hard to learn. These techniques can add some variety and creativity to your live stream and these are just the basics. It doesn’t have to be expensive and too difficult to set up, although every bit of effort you put in will show in the final product.

Happy streaming!

If you have questions, leave a comment. If you find this article helpful, please follow me on here and share this blog! 👍🏼

🐦 Twitter: @joshreola


Community Support

Have additional questions or want to learn more about Webex? Join the Webex Ambassador Community on Webex Teams and sign up as a Candidate and be a part of a global community of over 2,700 champions.


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May update of Webex Teams

MESSAGING

Introducing app update controls in Webex Teams

This May, Webex Teams admins will have access to product controls which will allow you to choose how often the app gets updated for your users. Options include updating the app monthly or quarterly. This means, if desired, you can reduce the number of updates presented to users. With this, you’ll also be able to defer the deployment of updates by up to four weeks for the monthly update option or two weeks for the quarterly update option. This gives customers a chance to complete any required validation of the new software update. For more details, check out this blog.

Isn’t there a space for that? (Windows and Mac)

We are all guilty of accidently making a new space where we could have re-used another. This feature will help you with that. You’ll get a chance to re-use old spaces as you’re trying to create a new one. If there is an active space with the group of people that you have staged, you’ll see a list of spaces you’re already in with those people. Similarly, when you start typing a space name, you’ll be shown a list of spaces with similar names that you are already in. This helps reduce the creation of unnecessary, duplicate spaces.

Create a Space

A new reaction! (Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Android)

You can now express yourself even more using reactions. If someone made you laugh with their message, simply react with our new (Haha) emoji! In addition to that, our existing Happy emoji becomes Smile and the Surprised emoji becomes the Wow emoji.

Development Agenda

‘Seen by’ for read receipts (Windows and Mac)
You might now notice the words ‘seen by’ appearing next to your read receipts in a space. This is to make it quick and easy for first time users to understand what the avatar read receipts are.

MEETINGS

See more people at the same time (Windows)

It’s here! The long-awaited grid view for Webex Teams meetings will be landing into your Windows app this May. You’ll now be able to see up to nine people at once during a meeting, making it that much easier to collaborate. The option will be available on the top right of your meeting window.

Grid view for Webex Teams

A new look for an in-space ‘meet’ (Windows and Mac)

Before, the green icon on the top left of a group space for starting an ad hoc meeting was a combined video camera and phone icon. This has changed to be more descriptive and understandable to users, it is now simply ‘meet’. You will see the same icon when you start a search and hover over a space to start an ad hoc meeting.

CALLING

Webex Calling

Fewer clicks to make a call (Windows and Mac)

You don’t have to click meet icon first and then choose whether to make the call with audio only or share your video. You can make that choice right away.

Single number reach (Windows and Mac)

With Single Number Reach, all incoming calls to your users’ work phones ring other numbers at the same time. You can add any numbers you want in your call settings.

We already support this feature in Webex Teams (Unified CM) on desktop. Check out this help page for more information.

Pull a call from one device to another (Windows and Mac)

You can easily move an active call from one device to another. Take a call on your mobile app, and when you get to the office, simply pull the active call to your desktop. The active call moves to the new device and ends on the old device.

High Definition (HD) video (Windows and Mac)

You can enable or disable HD video. Just click your profile picture, go to Settings (Windows) or Preferences (Mac), select Video, and then enable or disable the setting. You may want to disable HD video if your computer CPU is running high or you want to save network bandwidth during a call or meeting.

Direct callback from your call history (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

Just one tap and you can call someone back…simply tap the Call icon beside someone’s name or number in your Call History and you automatically call the person back at the number they called you. You no longer need to choose what number you want to reach them at.

We’re also making this available in Webex Teams calls.

Voicemail in Webex Teams (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

No more missing calls in Webex Teams. If you’re using Calling in Webex Teams (Webex Calling) on your iPhone, iPad, or Android, you’ll see a red badge counter (Message Waiting Indicator) next to the Calls tab letting you know you have a voice message. If you want to listen to your messages, go to the Calls tab and click on Call Voicemail to dial into the voicemail system. From your voicemail system, you also can record a personal greeting, delete a message, and so on. After you listen to your messages (from the app or your desk phone), the red badge counter disappears.

We already support this feature on desktop. See this help page for more details.

Merge two calls (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

When you’re on a phone call and you receive an incoming phone call in Webex Teams, you can merge the two phone calls into one and have everyone in the same phone call.

We already support this feature on desktop. For more information, take a look at this help page.

Start a conference call (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

We’re making collaboration even easier. Need another opinion while you’re on a call? You can add up to 6 people while you’re in a 1–to–1 call.

We already support this feature on desktop. See this help page for more details.

Call statistics (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

When you’re in a call or meeting, you can tap More button (three dots button) to check call statistics, such as packet loss, latency, and resolution rate.

View full screen share (iPhone and iPad)

When you’re in a call and the person you’re chatting with shares their screen, you can see what they’re sharing more clearly. Rather than their screen and video taking up equal real estate, their screen takes up your full view while their video just takes up a small space in the corner.

Switch to and from a bluetooth device during a call (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

During a call, you can switch from your headset or speaker to a Bluetooth device with the tap of a button.

Unified CM

Use desk phone control for Webex Teams calls (Windows and Mac)

When you’re connected to your desk phone from Webex Teams, you can make and answer Webex Teams calls. The audio and video goes through your desk phone but you can still share your screen from the app.

Use Health Checker for phone services status (Windows and Mac)

If you’re unsure whether you’re Phone Service is working properly, you can check out the status of your phone connection from the app. On Windows, click your profile picture and then go to Help > Health Checker. On Mac, go to Help > Health Checker. Health Checker tests your connection and lets you know if there’s a problem.

Fewer clicks to make a call (Windows and Mac)

You don’t have to click meet icon first and then choose whether to make the call with audio only or share your video. You can make that choice right away.

High Definition (HD) video (Windows and Mac)

You can enable or disable HD video. Just click your profile picture, go to Settings (Windows) or Preferences (Mac), select Video, and then enable or disable the setting. You may want to disable HD video if your computer CPU is running high or you want to save network bandwidth during a call or meeting.

Direct callback from your call history (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

Just one tap and you can call someone back…simply tap the Call icon beside someone’s name or number in your Call History and you automatically call the person back at the number they called you. You no longer need to choose what number you want to reach them at.

We’re also making this available in Webex Teams calls.

Call statistics (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

When you’re in a call or meeting, you can tap More button (three dots button) to check call statistics, such as packet loss, latency, and resolution rate.

View full screen share (iPhone and iPad)

When you’re in a call and the person you’re chatting with shares their screen, you can see what they’re sharing more clearly. Rather than their screen and video taking up equal real estate, their screen takes up your full view while their video just takes up a small space in the corner.

Switch to and from a bluetooth device during a call (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

During a call, you can switch from your headset or speaker to a Bluetooth device with the tap of a button.

INTEGRATIONS

Jira Server Bot
The latest updates to the Jira Server bot for Webex Teams support 2-way functionality, making it easier for your entire team to build, monitor, and release software in a timely manner. Now you can create issues like bugs, tasks, and stories from any space as well as setup real-time notifications for issues in your Jira project. Quickly see what’s been updated recently, assigned to you, or even list issues you’re watching from within a Webex Teams space. Learn more on the Webex App Hub.

Learn more on this and upcoming updates to Webex Teams

Learn More

See all of the Webex Teams Releases here

Webex Teams product update controls

Love your meeting!

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RoomOS May update

We are already at the end of May! I hope everyone is staying safe and sound. The RoomOS team have been working hard to release a mix of features for you, to enhance your personal mode experience, up your co-creation, and make life a little bit easier for administrators.

Activity indicator

Ever been in an interactive whiteboarding session and wondered who is annotating or drawing? We thought so. With Activity Indicator, the initials or the avatar of the people who are adding to the whiteboard will pop up next to their input. This is especially useful when you zoom into an area and want to be aware of the bigger picture. Click here to learn more.

Activity Indicator showing whiteboarding session with avatar of people drawing

No auto wake-up for personal mode devices

Room devices in personal mode can often be found in open office areas or home offices. These devices often turn on automatically when they detect movement – something that is useful at the office, but can be distracting at home. Imagine your device turning on every time your child runs past it, or your cat jumps on top of your desk? Pretty annoying. To fix this, we’re turning off by default the auto wake-up feature for personal mode devices.

Participant list improvements

We also made some improvements to the participant list display when in a meeting. Now, you can see the domain of external participants on the roster list, and see who is paired to a shared Cisco Webex device!

6 participants

Webex Edge for Devices – Read only configurations

We want to make sure that all our customers get to experience cloud benefits, no matter their deployment type. Webex Edge for Devices allows customers to view their configuration settings directly in Control Hub. This allows for greater flexibility, as customers with an on-premises registered device can see the configuration in Control Hub, which is a cloud feature. This brings more value into the single pane of glass for all administrators, regardless of deployment type.

Webex Edge for Devices – Proxy support

We also added proxy support for Webex Edge for devices, the same as for devices registered to the cloud.

That’s it for this month – but stay tuned, as we have loads more in the pipeline.

Learn more about Webex Edge for Devices

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Working smarter anywhere – Working remotely 

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Webinar: Indistractable — How to control your attention and choose your life

Webinar with best-selling author, Nir Eyal

Tomorrow.. Tomorrow.. I’ll love ya.. Oh wait. I don’t know you (or maybe I do). But that’s not the point.

Tomorrow is an exciting day! Webex is hosting a webinar with best-selling author, Nir Eyal. And trust me, you won’t want to miss it.

For years, Eyal has immersed himself in the psychology of distraction and even wrote a book about it called: Indistractable. Tomorrow, he is going to let us in on his research.

Key takeways

We’ll learn:

  • Reasons why we get distracted
  • Why we don’t do the things we know we should do (think: eating healthy, exercising, getting good sleep, etc).
  • How to master the internal triggers that make us uncomfortable
  • Cool tricks/ways to make a pact with yourself to do the work you say you’re going to do
  • How to cultivate self-compassion
  • AND SO MUCH MORE!

Register here today: https://use.webex.com/webinar-indistractable-with-nir-eyal

Date: Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Time: 12 PM ET

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Using technology to create work-life balance

Leveraging technology for better work/life balance

There’s no doubt about it: Work-life balance is essential for today’s employees. People have a widespread desire to address both personal and professional responsibilities. And everyone needs a little time to relax and unwind.

A survey from project and resource management company MavenLink also found a majority of employees of all ages – 62% – believe work-life balance is the most important part of a successful work culture. (1) Happy, healthy, and well-rested employees tend to be more productive, after all.

How can your company use technology to create and improve its employees’ sense of work-life balance?

Give them tools to automate repetitive tasks

Some of your staff’s most important responsibilities involve repetitive work, from creating budgets to organizing projects and allocating resources. However, the many computations and calculations involved are often best left to an application or program. Human error is inescapable, and can easily be introduced into these efforts despite the best efforts of staff and supervisors.

Tools as simple as spreadsheets and budgeting software can help employees complete this kind of repetitive but important work more quickly and with fewer opportunities for error. This modest investment can cut down on the time your workers spent on such tasks, helping them avoid late nights and early mornings. It also removes a potential source of worry that can follow them home and disrupt their work-life balance. Learn how to work smarter and get more done with Webex in 2020.

Use tech to improve mindfulness and health

Technology doesn’t need to specifically address a professional responsibility or task to help improve work-life balance. Locating and vetting resources, then sharing them with staff as part of an employee wellness program, can provide benefits inside and outside of work time.

There are a number of potential apps that employees can use to address self-care needs and improve quality of life. Those interested in diet and exercise can use a variety of free meal and activity trackers, for example. Providing information and encouraging use without requiring it can help create a supportive and accepting environment. This shows staff that their employer cares about them and recognizes they lead lives where work is important, but not the only thing they want or need to address in their lives.

Another option to consider when it comes to these resources is apps that support mindfulness and a sense of presence. Forbes contributor Jaspar Weir, the founder of TaskUs, an outsourcing company, highlighted how his company uses the Headspace app to promote meditation. (2) Creating a sense of peace and presence in the current moment can help employees take a short break as well as better plan and complete their tasks for the day. Take instruction to Webex: stream live pilates lessons.

Empower them to use their calendars

Digital calendars are incredibly valuable tools for modern workplaces. A meeting organizer can easily check stakeholders’ calendars when inviting them to an internal meeting or discussion with a client. That’s not the only benefit digital calendars provide.

Encouraging staff to block off time for lunch and breaks in line with company policies can help them stay refreshed and organized throughout the day. It also provides a window to set up an appointment or check in with family and friends. With digital calendars already so prevalent, embracing this type of policy doesn’t require a major shift in organizational strategy. Employees just need to be encouraged to take advantage of this benefit early on.

Allow them to work from home

Technology has advanced to the point where professionals in many different careers can not only function but thrive when working remotely. Recent events have accelerated companies’ plans to expand work-from-home.

Solutions like video conferencing platforms connect staff to their colleagues, whether in the office or also working from home, in a much richer environment than is possible with conference calls or emails alone. The right video conferencing tool can even enhance collaboration and support recall through automated recordings and document sharing. Here’s more tips for WFH when everyone else is home.

Working from home has some obvious benefits when it comes to supporting work-life balance:

  • Staff can effectively work from wherever they are currently located. They may be at home, traveling as part of their jobs or even bringing their children to a travel sports tournament. As long as they have a computer and internet connection, they can perform capably in their roles.
  • Commuting is no longer a drain on time and energy. While staff still have to prepare themselves for the work day, they don’t need to spend the time and money required to drive to the office or make sure they get on public transit in time.
  • Employees can be present at their homes without having to take time off. A mild illness or appointment with a tradesperson doesn’t mean an employee can’t work. Caring for a sick child or training a new puppy requires some attention, but not enough to require many full days of time off. At the same time, these concerns often require a staff member to be absent from a physical office. With a supportive environment and the right technological tools in place, employees can make a seamless transition to working from home.

Technology offers crucial support for employers that want to improve work-life balance, from directly supporting staff as they complete complex tasks to allowing them to effectively perform in their roles no matter where they’re located. See more ways on embracing the rise of remote working.

Learn more about Cisco Webex video conferencing solutions and their role in enabling a better work-life balance: get started with a free plan today

References

(1) Work/life balance leads to successful work culture

(2) How TaskUs uses Headspace app to promote meditation

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Webex Device Management – The power of search!

Advanced search feature in Webex Control Hub

There has always been a debate about hierarchical folders vs. indexed based searching. When we developed device management features in Webex Control Hub we really wanted administrators to have easy access to any information they might need. Because of this, we decided to implement an advanced search feature to allow for multiple ways to manipulate and view your devices list view. This allows admins to quickly find the devices they are looking for.

implement an advanced search feature to allow for multiple ways to manipulate and view your devices list view. This allows admins to quickly find the devices they are looking for.

Enhance and simplify the admin journey

Let us take a quick look into how we can use the devices search functionality to really enhance the administrators journey on an average day.

When you load up the devices page you can click on the search bar to expose a list of potential filters. The first one is a brand new one that we recently released, called “Type.” This allows you to quickly filter on “Webex Rooms” , “Headsets” or “IP Phones”. This acts as a quick way for administrators to filter the view to look at the devices selected.

Product Tab lets you specify the exact type of device grouping you are looking for

 

The Product tab is lets you specify this even further by the exact type of device grouping you are looking for. For example, you can select Webex Boards. You can also combine these filters, so let’s say we want to file all the Webex Boards which are “Online with Issues” – this can be done by combining both of these functionalities together!

Real-time issue searching

However, it is not just about finding devices that are online or offline or in a specific grouping. One of the features that makes the devices search so powerful is real time issue searching based on the issue diagnostic. This means we can easily see which devices have the same issues. This can be really useful if there is an issue at a certain location and we can easily narrow down which devices in that location have the same problem.

Real-time Issue searching

 

Search by location

One of the questions I get all the time is: “How do I find the devices that are in the New York vs. London offices?” This can be easily achieved using a feature we call tags, where you can place one or multiple tags on any device. This feature allows you to have multiple ways to search and slice and dice the view to get what you want. Maybe you place one tag for location and another tag on the device to explain that it is in building A on campus? The possibilities are endless. Tags can also be searched via our developer APIs check them out at here! (Link to https://developer.webex.com/docs/api/v1/devices )

Search by Location

This is just some of the ways you can use device search to enhance your admin workday, quickly finding the right device to configure, monitor or troubleshoot! Stay tuned for more new features coming to Webex Control Hub for device management in the near future. These are just some of the tools available for Webex Rooms customers in Control Hub and we are adding more updates monthly to What’s New in Cisco Webex Control Hub

Get Control Hub today

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Improve engagement with students with these tips

Cisco Webex Research Blog Series

The Design Group at Cisco is a global team of Red Dot Award winning creatives who explore peoples’ needs through research and empathy to make the world a better place to work. This series explores their research and some best practices to make everyday interactions more effective. 

Read all the blogs in the series

Tips for better student engagement

One of the growing concerns for instructors delivering online lessons is how to understand if their students are engaged and how to increase engagement in class. At Cisco Webex Research, we spoke with 34 students and instructors to understand what helps students to be engaged during an online class. One of the things that stood out is how the class behavior is different based on the class size.   

Here are some tips to help your classes, based on the number of students in them. 

Improve engagement with students with these tips

  • Small- sized classes (Less than 10 students): Small sized classes open up the possibility of a discussion-based class which is great to increase engagement. A discussion-based class will provide the opportunity for each student to talk about their perspective. Encouraging students to have their video and microphone on ensures they take the class from a quiet space that enhances their focus. Another method of encouraging participation is having students share content during class, and having them lead the discussion.
  • Mid-size classes (10-30 students): Typically, in mid-size classes, instructors tend to have a discussion-based class along with group work where students work in break-out groups. In these classes, sharing content with students as well as the video of the instructor will help increase engagement. Additionally, having students turn on their video while they ask questions will help other students know who is asking the question. Another method of improving class participation is by engaging with students via chat – answering their questions or sending out a poll will drive students to ask more questions via chat if they are hesitant to turn their video on.
  • Large classes (Greater than 30 students): A pattern seen in large classes is that all students tend to have their videos and microphones off. In such a class environment, it helps to ensure the instructor has their video turned on. Most of the students prefer to ask their questions via chat, and to keep the class engaged; it is necessary for the instructor to monitor the chat and interact with students on this channel. An additional way to improve engagement in class would be to work with a group of students and have them present some portion of the lecture. 

We would love to hear from you. If you are an instructor or student who would like to share about your online learning experience, please email us at webexresearch@cisco.com

Connect with all of our blogs in the series here 

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Higher education, meet Webex

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

(Contributors: Varshine Chandrakanthan, Kathryn Parkes and Mani Pande) 

 About the Cisco Webex Research Team

Kathryn Parkes, Senior UX Researcher
Kathryn is an experienced user researcher based in Dublin, Ireland reporting into San Jose. As a member of the UX Research team, she leads research projects across the Webex Suite working with various Cisco Collab teams in Ireland, US and across Europe. The team use a broad variety of research methods, including user interviews, usability testing and benchmarking studies, to get a deep understanding of Webex user needs.

Varshine Chandrakanthan, Designer User Experience
Varshine loves observing people and their actions – hence she decided to become a User Researcher. She is passionate about creating an impact to people’s lives and loves to volunteer for education and human rights programs. Her interests include designing tattoos, illustrating for books, eating cake and meditating.

Mani Pande, User Experience Manager
Mani leads the user research team in San Jose. Her team is responsible for understanding the needs of Webex users to inform product strategy and direction, and ensure that the software we ship is not only simple and easy to use, but also delightful. You can find her and her team members huddling with Webex users understanding how they use our software and mapping opportunities of improvement. In another life, Mani worked as a reporter for the Times of India, India’s largest selling newspaper, covering media and crime. Outside of work, Mani loves to travel, cycle, run and cook. She posts photos of food that she cooks and places she visits on Instagram.

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Microsoft + Cisco . A telemedicine appointment with a doctor online.
Cisco + Samsung, innovating healthcare

Re-imagining healthcare

The healthcare landscape is changing faster than ever before, and the industry is looking towards the return to a new normal for patient care. Daily tasks of our international healthcare heroes, have become hazardous and very involved, requiring extreme working hours and costly protective gear.  

Hospitals are constantly looking for new ways to physically distance their staff from patients in order to minimize the spread of virus and the risk of being exposed within care facilities. Ultimately, facilities affected by the shortage of protective gear need to turn to new and creative solutions that will help reduce the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as N95 masks, or gloves, yet still provide personal care for patients at an increased volume.  

For patients being treated at these facilities, many are experiencing lonely and isolating times, as interaction with staff have become strictly minimal and, more importantly, families are prohibited from visiting.  

Connecting with technology 

At Cisco, we take connections” very seriously, even beyond our network. Keeping humans connected is in our DNA. With this in mind, we have recently joined forces with Samsung to develop a zero-touch solution that will allow facilities to continue caring for their patients, while keeping staff safe and families connected. Cisco collaboration has brought together Cisco Webex Teams and Samsung Knox Configure on the Galaxy Tab Active2 tablets, to enable clinical staff to conduct virtual consultations and daily virtual rounds with the patients at their facilities.  

The solution features the use of Samsung Galaxy Tab Active2 tablets (managed by the Knox Configure tool) in examination (consultation) and patient observation rooms. The Samsung devices run a custom version of Webex Teams in kiosk mode, allowing the patient to connect over video with their care givers (and families) without having to touch the tablet in any way.  

Virtual Consultations  

Male doctor working on desk with laptop computer and paperwork on his desk. Medical concept by doctor on computer in office with stethoscope over hospital background.For virtual consultations, patients showing up for an evaluation at healthcare facilities  can wait at a fixed or mobile station with a mounted Samsung Tab Active2 running Webex Teams. Once the caregiver is ready for the consultation, they can open Webex Teams on their personal device, navigate to the “space” dedicated to that virtual consultation room, and start the call. At this point, the Samsung device on the patient side will ring for 5 seconds and join the video call automatically. The other clinical staff that are also part of that space will be able to join the ongoing consultation and interact with the patient as well, keeping the consultations dynamic and collaborative.  

Keeping Families Connected 

If the patient is admitted for observation (and quarantine) at the facility, the clinical staff will be able to keep a line of communication with the patient’s family by messaging over a Webex Teams. This way they’ll be able to keep them informed on when it’s time for the patient’s virtual checkin.   

Virtual Rounds  

Much like standard physical check-ins, clinical staff can perform daily rounds on their floors by dialing the Webex Teams space associated to the patient’s room. During their virtual consultation via the Samsung device, the care giver can invite family members to the video call, creating an instant and seamless connection to their loved one. 

 “Samsung has partnered with Cisco to jointly develop a solution to help medical institutions safely provide care during the current public health crisis. Samsung is pleased to have  our technology help bridge the distancing measures now pervasive in hospitals so that patients can safely connect with their families and their healthcare providers. – Taher Behbehani, General Manager and Head of Mobile B2B, Samsung Electronics America 

Learn How to Connect 

We’ve created tailored documentation that will help all those involved set up and use this solution.  

Visit the solution site to learn more and get started by registering for a Webex Teams trial and a Samsung Knox trial  

If you are a large healthcare facility and need help discovering what solution fits your needs, contact your Cisco account manager, partner or your Samsung account manager to get information regarding Samsung Tab Active2 tablets, Knox Configure, or Webex Teams.  

For information on Cisco Webex and HIPAA compliance, see Protecting Your Webex Healthcare Data.

Learn More

Improving patient diagnoses with video conferencing

Up-leveling patient care with team collaboration technology

Improving patient care and coordination with video conferencing tools

 

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Young hipster man with tattoo sitting on floor and playing acoustic guitar
Times are changing, so is music

Virtual music change

Usually at this time of the year my friends and I begin the banter and planning associated with our annual pilgrimage to the Isle Of Wight Festival. Although we weren’t able to participate this year, I am always seeking ways to keep music an active part of my life.

Live music especially is an important part of my life. The energy and anticipation in a room just before a band comes on is electric. The difference between a great gig and an “Epic Gig” is marginal but in my opinion, the venue, sound system, and people form an essential combination to reach “Epic Proportions”.

I was a bit cynical about the virtual gig concept. How can it possibly be the same?

No people, a tinny sound, and I’m in my front room!

Support with playlists

Then Chris Martin partnered with Global Citizen. Seeing the performance in a stripped back and relatively unproduced manner reminded me just how good Coldplay is. It even made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.

So much for no energy! Those tunes touched me, and the atmosphere came from the situation we all find ourselves in.

A few days later I decided to create a playlist ‘Isolation Station’ for my team- just a few songs and a little irony to put a smile on their faces.

Finally, one last virtual music event that really reset my perception that I needed to be in the venue, surrounded by like-minded souls was the Hacienda House Party, a live dance music event based around some of the original superstar DJ’s of the Hacienda in Manchester, England. This event provided my family with a backing music soundtrack for a lovely sunny Saturday. It was brilliantly produced and when pumped through the home sound system, it sounded awesome! Boom, we were raving at home.

Together at home

And whilst I’m waxing lyrical about virtual music events, check out the links below that caught my eye- irony and comedy in musical form.

Oh My God (Stay Home Edition) | Kaiser Chiefs

Reworking of a great anthem following a tweet by a fan to a UK radio station

The Rolling Stones perform “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” | | One World: Together

Check out Charlie Watts drum kit! I’d love to know the story behind this. Taken from the Global Citizen gig at the weekend which Cisco sponsored.

As the Chilli Peppers once sang “Music the great communicator.”

Live From Home weekly livestream

At the other end of the spectrum Cisco has done a good job of using Webex to showcase performing artists of all practices during the weekly series, Live From Home. Presented by AppDynamics and Cisco, Live From Home is using Cisco technology to directly benefit the performers and to provide top-notch entertainment for the public. They are also fundraising for art charities in need. My favourite was ‘Indie Night’. It certainly inspired me to pick up my guitar and start dusting off the old campfire favourites!

We all get so much from the arts which we can often take for granted. Streaming lets us listen to what we want, where we want, whenever we want, and whilst that is a good thing, it’s live music that now really keeps artists afloat. It’s not just for the mega bands touring the world on private jets, but more importantly it’s for the bands and musicians playing at bars and small venues, who are completely shut down for now.

In the clear

So, when all this is over and we can actually go to a venue with a sticky floor and a musty smell, let’s go show our support and help the next Coldplay or Billie Eilish breakthrough.

You can do that on May 5th during the Live from Home event on Cisco’s Virtual Experience Hub for the public.

To conclude, my perceptions were proven wrong….virtual music can move me and bring entertainment to the masses. Music plays such a huge part in all our lives, whether you play it, write it or just hum along because you don’t know the words, it’ll put a smile on your face or a tear in your eye. Right now, the power music has is remarkable and can help us all get through this together.

Stay Safe and tune into the next Live From Home event on 05/05

Learn More

How Live from Home is bringing artists into the Cisco community 

The ultimate Webex Events guide: From start to stream in under 2 minutes

Live streaming with Webex Meetings for your virtual events: What’s new and how to use it

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Securing users and devices in Webex

Common security challenges with users and devices

Today there are too many security challenges to the applications used by organizations, and many different vectors need to be secure:

  • User identities
  • Content
  • Devices
  • Transport

Security challenges to the applications.

The way that we protect the applications is crucial. We need to protect the application access, but also the identity of the user.

It is the job of the IT manager to prevent rogue agents from hijacking user identity and have access to all the different resources that the user is entitled to.

Identity theft has been identified in the Verizon 2019 report as the most common data breach, and if we add phishing attacks and stolen password, we get more than 50% of them. (1)

Breaches. Top threat action varieties in breaches

Protecting user identity

IT departments already understand that passwords are no longer an efficient way of protecting user identity.

It is difficult to manage application access based on passwords, as there are too many challenges:

  • Strong password complexity makes them hard to remember
  • Passwords should be unique to each app, which make them hard to remember
  • Passwords should rotate often which makes them difficult to manage and remember
  • Password manager web utilities can also bring security breaches

When deploying Webex, Cisco always recommends that our customers deploy it with a stronger authentication solution; at the same time, we recommend that the devices where Webex applications run are secure.

Strong authentication solution

Many customers want to enable all their applications with stronger authentication. Organizations realize that identity theft is the biggest security concern, and the traditional mechanisms for authentication are no longer effective.

Our customers talk about multifactor authentication (MFA), which means that their users need to provide two different types of authentication. There are three types of authentication mechanisms:

Strong authentication solution

Many vendors deliver these kinds of solutions; normally, we see them associated with Identity Provider (IdP) solutions. Those authentication policy servers, enforce the right authentication policy based on the different factor (location, application type, device type, etc.)

Today there is another trend in the identity market, where authentication mechanisms are people-centric and follow the Zero Trust mode. This allows secure connections to all applications (whether on-premises or in the cloud) based on the trustworthiness of users and devices. The Zero Trust mode enables the customer’s IT to set and enforce risk-based, adaptive access policies, and get enhanced visibility into users’ devices and activities. This concept is also known as Adaptive Authentication.

Cisco Webex right architecture

Cisco Webex has the right architecture to support the Zero Trust mode and allow secure connections based on the trustworthiness of users and devices.

Device validation and health

Device Validation and Health

Device assessment is a must in today’s organizations, identifying risky devices, enforcing contextual access policies, and reporting on device health.

Today organizations are mandated to follow many compliance goals, and they can achieve most of those using device access policies.

Verifying device health before granting access, to preventing exposing your applications to potential security risks is one of the best practices in modern application deployment models.

There are multiple types of devices that an organization’s users utilize every day when they use collaboration tools. Some of the devices are managed by the IT department, which already delivers some security insurance – but it isn’t enough. Some are unmanaged and owned by the employees, which brings interesting challenges from a security perspective.

Corporate managed devices/applications

CorporateManagedDevices:Applications

Normally there is a mix of solutions that can be used for corporate or managed devices, depending on the device type.

Some organizations use MDM/MAM for mobile devices, which allows them to create policies for the corporate application, for example:

  • Forcing PIN-lock
  • Preventing copy and paste
  • Disable screen capture
  • Remote wipe
  • Preventing tampering with devices
  • Requiring a minimum version of OS
  • Support for ECM
  • Requiring a minimum version of the corporate application

But since IT departments don’t manage only mobile devices, we also need to find a solution for desktops, and there we need to make sure that the corporate – managed applications are also aware of the security policies, and those apps could be aware of features like:

  • Versions of Browsers
  • OS versions and type
  • Disk encryption
  • Status on OS, Browsers, and Plugins
  • Firewalls
  • Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware

The protection of the application can be done by using the validations when the user logs in to the applications or during the application usage. The right mechanism, method, and deployment model needs to be chosen by IT administrations when they are in the deployment stage of those applications. The application vendors need to support any policy defined by the IT departments of those customers.

Cisco with Webex Collaboration doesn’t mandate any security strategy to protect the application, but we can integrate with any policy defined by our customer.

It is important that any application that deals with all the IP (Intellectual Property) produced by a company can follow all the policies that exist for devices and applications.

Non-managed devices

non managed devices

Devices that are owned by the users should not be excluded from the usage of a collaboration application. Examples of that are home computers, personal tablets, and mobile devices. Those devices are especially relevant in scenarios of working from home.

That is why corporate applications need to do extra check to make sure that they follow the minimum-security requirements imposed by the company security policies, for example:

  • The device has the firewall turned on
  • The device has an endpoint security tool, to protect against malware and viruses
  • The device doesn’t have a tampered OS

Normally these kinds of policies, for devices that are unmanaged, need to be enforced at login time.

Device/application visibility

Device:Application Visibility

One of the fundamental principles of good security is to understand your environment. But as environments get more complex with increasing reliance on cloud applications, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) allowances, and mobile and remote work, it’s progressively more difficult to gain that understanding.

For IT administrators, it is important that they have visibility on what devices each application is running; they also need to have visibility on the major characteristics of those devices.

Endpoint visibility also helps you understand and track important user behaviors such as how quickly end-users update their operating systems, browsers, or plugins. It also builds an understanding of when and how frequently end users log into work applications from their personal devices. Tracking these behaviors not only helps you set informed access policies but also helps tailor a more empathetic approach to different groups of users.

When it comes to security, trust Webex

Whether it’s the security of the Webex application itself or securing the devices that connect to it, Cisco Webex has security and privacy built into its DNA. Cisco has invested heavily in building a culture of security with the right checks and balances in place. Webex chooses secure default settings out of the box, thereby enabling users to start collaborating freely without having to worry about configurations. At the same time, Webex delivers a great user experience – one that doesn’t compromise security. That’s collaboration without compromise. That’s the Cisco security difference.

To learn more about Security and Compliance settings, go to the Cisco Webex Control Hub web page.

Resources

(1) Verizon 2019 report

Learn More

Administrators’ 3-step guide to managing devices remotely

Collaboration Without Compromise: A Security-First Approach to Remote Working

The World Has Changed — Security Should Transform to Stay Ahead

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April update of Webex Teams. Man using laptop at home
April update of Webex Teams

Another month and another exciting update of Webex Teams! Let’s talk about this April’s new features…

MESSAGING

Webex Teams Supports XMPP Messaging (Windows and Mac)

Are your colleagues using Jabber, Pidgin or another XMPP app? Now that Webex Teams supports XMPP, you’ll have the ability to send a plain text message to someone using an XMPP app. Your administrator can enable the XMPP communication and ensure that you can only communicate with people on XMPP apps from specific domains or organizations.

Webex Teams Supports XMPP

 

Webex Teams Supprts XMPP Messaging (Windows and Mac) _2

 

Make the Most of Your Message Area (Windows and Mac)

In group spaces (especially larger ones), when lots of people leave or are added around the same time, your message area can get clogged up with notifications that – maybe – aren’t all that important to you. Sometimes, this can cause you to lose context of messages sent before or after these in-space notifications. From now on, you’ll see these notifications grouped and collapsed, with the option to expand if you want to see more detail. This allows users to focus on the important stuff.

 Make the Most of Your Message Area (Windows and Mac)

Actions on Any Message (Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad and Android)

Sometimes you need to add a comment or context to a meeting that has been scheduled. Now you can! With this update, you’ll be able to perform all your messaging actions on a calendar invite in a space. This includes starting a thread, quoting or flagging the calendar invite when it appears in a space. On desktop, you’ll also be able to forward the calendar invite information to another space.

Actions on Any Message (Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad and Android)

 

Edit Message on Mobile (iPhone, iPad and Android)

How often do we send a message on mobile before we see we’ve misspelled something or forgotten a word? Too often!

We introduced Edit Message on desktop a while back, and now we’re excited to announce the arrival of this feature on mobile. No matter the mistake, you can now go back and edit your message as soon as it’s sent. No more embarrassing blunders! After you confirm the update, a note next to the message indicates that it’s been edited.

April Updates

CALLING ­

Webex Calling

Audio Quality Enhancements

Opus codec for calls is now supported between Multiplatform Phones, Webex Teams, and room devices. You’ll experience better sound quality and lower bandwidth usage.

Desk Phone Control (Windows and Mac)

Dial a number from the app on your desktop and your call goes through your desk phone. Pick up your handset, use your headset, or talk over your speakerphone on your phone.

We’re making this available in Calling in Webex Teams (Webex Calling). We already support desk phone control in Webex Teams (Unified CM) on your desktop. See this article for more information.

Transfer a Call (iPhone, iPad and Android)

Sometimes if you’re on a phone call, you need to transfer that call to someone else. Now you can. You’ll also have the chance to let the person know why you’re transferring the call to them.

Add a Pause to a Dial String (Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Android)

You can add a pause to an entered phone number, which you might need if you’re joining a conference call and need to enter numbers in response to the automated system. You can add a comma (,) to the number, which gives a 1-second delay in the dialing. You can add several commas in a row to extend the delay. You could enter something like: 95556543123,,,,56789.

We already support this feature in Webex Teams (Unified CM) on your desktop. See this help page for more details.

Emergency Calling (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

If you make an emergency call in Webex Teams, the call is made using your device’s phone app, making it easier for Emergency Services to pinpoint your location through your network carrier.

Pull a Call from One Device to Another (iPad, iPhone and Android)

You can easily move an active call from one device to another. Take a call on your mobile app, and when you get to the office the office, simply pull the active call to your desktop. The active call moves to the new device and ends on the old device.

Direct Callback from Your Call History (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

Just one tap to call someone back! Simply tap the Call icon beside someone’s name or number in your Call History and you automatically call that person back at the number they called you on. You no longer need to choose what number you want to reach them at.

Unified CM

Auto-Discovery of Service Domain (Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Android)

Your admin can make your life a lot easier by getting your service domain added automatically to your Phone Services settings in Webex Teams. That way, you don’t need to manually enter a domain and can sign in right away to use the advanced calling features available to you.

Adjust Your Device Volume and Preferences (Windows and Mac)

Get a wide range of audio options during your meetings or calls. When you’re in a call, you can adjust the speaker or microphone directly from the call or meeting window by clicking the three dots menu button and selecting Audio Options. You can also choose your preferred speaker and microphone, so that any new plugged in devices don’t get automatically selected. If you wish to go with your operating system’s devices, you can choose Use system setting and Webex Teams will follow suit. You can also access these options in Audio Preferences.

Make it Easier to Handle Calls from Anywhere (iPad, iPhone and Android)

Don’t worry about missing that important phone call because you’re away from your desk. You can have your work calls ring any phone number so when you get a call, Webex Teams rings plus any other numbers you set up. Unless you’re setting up phone numbers, you no longer have to go to settings.webex.com to turn on this feature. You can turn it on straight from the app.

We already support Single Number Reach in Calling in Webex Teams (Unified CM) on your desktop. Check out this article for further information.

Direct Callback from your Call History (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

Just one tap to call someone back! Simply tap the Call icon beside someone’s name or number in your Call History and you automatically call that person back at the number they called you on. You no longer need to choose what number you want to reach them at.

Check your Voicemail (iPad, iPhone and Android)

No more missing calls in Webex Teams. If you’re using Calling in Webex Teams on your mobile, there will be an option in your Calls tab to manage your voicemails. There’s a red badge counter that lets you know how many voice messages you have. You can check out the details of a message, play it, mark it as read, delete it or call back the sender. After you’ve listened to your messages, either with Webex Teams or your deskphone, the red badge counter disappears.

Answer Calls without Sharing Video (iPhone, iPad and Android)

Bad hair day? On-the-go? You can choose to answer every Webex Teams call without sharing your video.

We already support this feature in Calling in Webex Teams (Unified CM) on your desktop. See this help doc for more details.

Emergency Calling (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

If you make an emergency call in Webex Teams, the call is made using your device’s Phone app, making it easier for Emergency Services to pinpoint your location through your network carrier.

Forward your Phone Calls to Another Number (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

If you’re going to be away from your desk but don’t want to miss an important phone call, you can forward your calls to another phone number. Or, if you don’t want to be interrupted, you can send all your calls to voicemail instead.

We already support Call Forwarding in Calling in Webex Teams (Unified CM) on your desktop. Take a look at this help doc to find out more.

SECURITY

HITRUST certification for Webex Teams

“Developed by healthcare and IT professionals, the HITRUST Common Security Framework (CSF) helps organizations by providing an efficient and prescriptive framework for managing the security requirements inherent in HIPAA.” (Source: HITRUST)

We know how important security is to our users. We are proud to announce that in Webex Teams, we are now HITRUST certified. This certification supports customers who must meet HIPAA compliance, such as in the healthcare industry. This work validates HIPAA compliance on Webex Teams, Control Hub & Webex API as certified platforms for storage of Personal Health Information (PHI). This expediates contracts & security reviews in addition to ISO27001 certification and SOC2 Type II reports.

HITRUST certification for Webex Teams- Wording TBC

For more information on this and upcoming updates to Webex Teams, check out our help page 

Learn More

See all of the Webex Teams Releases here

Creating digital teams in Webex Teams series: Chapter 3: Whiteboards, no line on the horizon

How to launch a community with Webex Teams

Read more
Webex Meetings April 2020 Update: Better usability and more intelligence for smarter meetings
Webex Meetings April 2020 update: Better usability and more intelligence for smarter meetings

Webex Meetings is evolving every day to meet the needs of our customers especially with the rise in remote working. New features being released this month span from enabling more live streaming capabilities to support virtual events, to control hub enhancements for more secure meetings, to short cut integrations with Slack for improved usability, to enabling a better mobile meeting experience with more intelligence. In addition, we’ve expanded language support to now include Czech, Polish, Romanian and Hungarian – starting first on the mobile app and will soon to the desktop app.

Live stream your virtual events

One of the most significant features of this update is the ability to live stream Webex Meetings and Webex Events to more streaming platforms. In addition to existing support for Facebook Live, IBM Video Streaming and Vbrick, we are now also support streaming to YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Workplace for Facebook, and any other platform that supports the Real-time Messaging Protocol. With the number of virtual events on the rise, Webex Meetings and Webex Events are providing many more options to help you reach the widest possible audience. You can read more details in my recent blog on planning large virtual events.

Control Hub enhancements: Have you ever experienced an issue during a meeting and then have it disappear when IT comes to help? I think we all have, so we created a solution for this. As a new feature in Control Hub, IT admins can now join an “in progress” meeting from the troubleshooting page and experience the problem for themselves. Since more and more business-critical meetings are taking place via video conferencing, there has been an increased need for IT to be able to monitor those meetings and jump in to assist if things are not going well. This gives the IT admin more insight into the problem that the meeting participants are experiencing, ultimately allowing for a quicker resolution process.

Refining Webex integrations for better usability

Slack just recently introduced new shortcuts that provide simple, visual ways to interact with apps from anywhere in Slack. Users can quickly access shortcuts using a new lightning bolt icon next to the message input field, which gives you a pop-up menu with the following Webex actions:

  • List recordings
  • Schedule meeting
  • Show upcoming meetings
  • Start Webex meeting
  • Version information

When you select the action you would like to take, for example Start Webex Meeting, you will choose which channel or 1:1 conversation in which you would like to start the meeting, and then the Start Meeting/Join Meeting buttons will be displayed in the selected conversation. These shortcuts make it easier than ever to access Webex Meetings within the Slack channel – and it means no more slash commands.

WebexMeetingswithinthe SLACKchannel

We’ve also done more refinement with the Microsoft Teams integration, including the ability for hosts to share recordings directly within a Microsoft Teams channel. All meeting participants who are also in the MS Teams channel will be able to play the recording once it has been shared. This convenience means attendees will have recordings at their fingertips rather than having to go searching through email for recordings. In addition, meeting start/end notifications for meetings taking place in a Webex Personal Room will appear in the channel conversation stream.

WebexPersonalRoom

Smart mobile enhancements

This month, we’re bringing a number of features to make your mobile Webex meeting even more intuitive with low battery detection, People Insights on mobile, deeper Ford Sync 3 integration and video pin capabilities:

  • Webex Meetings will detect when your phone battery is low, proactively offering to turn off video and switch to audio only mode. This is available for iOS and Android devices. This feature is created to minimize disturbances during a meeting
  • Mobile Webex Meetings users will now be able to view People Insight profiles in the mobile app instead of being redirected to a browser. You now have everything you need to be prepared for a meeting in the mobile app. Meeting with a new co-worker or customer? Join the meeting prepared with some background information that will help break the ice.

Background Info

  • You can already start or join a Webex meetings from any Ford vehicle with Ford SYNC® 3 AppLink® enabled. While listening to a meeting, users will now be able to view who is actively speaking from their Ford SYNC 3 touchscreen without touching or looking at their phones.

Ford SYNC

This feature will help you be more in tuned with whoever is speaking while you’re participating from the road.

  • Video pin support: When hosting a meeting, it can be important for everyone to view the same speaker or content. Now on mobile, hosts can now pin a specific video for all the attendees to view. Keep everyone on the same page and help your meeting participants follow along.

For more details about Webex Meetings, please visit the Webex Help Portal

Learn More

See all the Webex Meetings updates here

Using a video conferencing tool to manage outside vendor communications

Secure, First-Party Recording Transcripts in Webex Meetings

Read more
Serious woman using laptop checking email news online sitting on sofa, searching for friends in internet social networks or working on computer, writing blog or watching webinar, studying at home
How to create a video conferencing agenda

Hold engaging video calls with a meeting agenda ahead of time

Meetings can be a waste of time if not run properly. In fact, a 2019 study revealed the cost of poorly organized meetings would be $399 billion dollars, in the United States alone (1).

An important way to ensure meetings run smoothly and efficiently is to set an agenda prior to the call. Setting an agenda is important, so all attendees can come prepared. Often participants join a meeting, not knowing how to prepare, or what the meeting will be about. And as a result, a follow-up meeting is needed, making the first meeting more of a time-suck than a productive call.

Prioritize your time and energy

Before setting an agenda, consider these three things:

    1. Understand that you don’t have to solve every problem in one meeting

Think about what can be accomplished.

Meetings have different goals and priorities. While some are brainstorm meetings, others are status updates, or presentations on collected information or metrics data. The list goes on, but a single meeting shouldn’t try to fit everything into one. Before you set an agenda, understand what type of meeting you want to have. This will aid in how attendees prepare beforehand and in knowing how long to set the duration of the call.

      2. Consider making meetings shorter

Participants may be more engaged and less likely to multitask in a shorter meeting, knowing they can get back to their work.

Video conferencing calls don’t have to be a designated 30 minutes or 1 hour long. Yes, it’s true that sometimes that amount time is needed, but consider other approaches. For example, let’s take a brainstorm call. Try setting the meeting for 20 minutes and have participants come prepared with ideas they can share for the first 10 minutes. Then, in the second half of the call, have people try and think of additional ideas as a group. After the call, you can narrow down the ideas and send them out, and let people vote. Or set up a second, 10-minute call to walk through the top three and do a final vote.

For a read-out call, sometimes people fill space with information that is too in-the-weeds if there is not clear direction given. Consider setting a shorter call and instruct the presenter to give the top three bullet points and top three lessons learned. Or top three things that can be improved upon. This will shorten calls and keep people focused. If people are interested in more information, they can follow up outside the call.

3. Don’t be afraid of trial and error

Meetings can look and feel different. Try various methods to see what works best for your company.

People work in different ways. What may work for someone, may not work for others. After a meeting, ask for feedback. You may be surprised in what people have to say.

How to plan for and contribute to meetings

What should your agenda look like?

Based on the meeting type, consider:

  • What is the objective of the meeting?
  • How long the meeting should last?
  • How many people need to be on the call?
  • Who will need to talk/present?
  • Should everyone on the invite actually be on the call? (this is important because you don’t want people to feel like their time is being wasted)
  • How long each of those people need to convey information?

An example agenda:

Objective of call:

Example Agenda

At the bottom of the agenda (or within it), you can request what each person needs to do to prepare, or what they need to bring to the meetings. For example, do they need to send slides over beforehand? Should they come with one question to ask, etc.?

Additionally, it’s important to let presenters/participants know how much time they have, beforehand. In fact, to keep a meeting on track, you can give a 2-5-minute warning before the transition to the next topic and presenter. Because everyone will have seen the agenda and time allocated, the switch will be smoother and it won’t feel like someone is being cut off.

One last note

Remember, meeting templates can look very different based on the type of meeting. So, create yours to fit your business needs and detail it with as much or little information as it needs. You can experiment to see what works better with your employees.

Preparing for every meeting with a clear objective and thoughtful agenda will ensure a more productive and efficient use of time for everyone involved. Taking the time up front, will go a long way to ensuring you get the most out of each and every meeting.

And if you don’t already have Webex, you can sign up for the free offer, with an unlimited meeting time!

Reference

(1) 2019 study on poorly organized meetings

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How videoconferencing supports the triple bottom line.glass planet in a forest with sunshine - Usa map
How videoconferencing supports the triple bottom line

Here at Cisco we are all about collaboration – especially real-time, face-to-face collaboration. The adoption of video collaboration technologies also has important implications on a company’s triple bottom line: people, planet and profit. So, in the light of Earth Day 2020 we thought we would reiterate some of the benefits video conferencing technologies bring to businesses, the people that work for them, and for the planet we live on.

People

Video conferencing empowers people to own their schedule, better integrate their work and personal lives, and offers them the freedom to get stuff done wherever they are. Employees are not only employees, they are parents, siblings, friends, errand-running multi-taskers that need the flexibility of structuring their own workdays. In a study by Forrester on the economic impact of deploying Cisco Webex Meetings + Webex Rooms, companies  found that employees described that the “simplicity afforded by being able to start meetings and share content from a mobile device or to connect to a Webex video device makes movement between the home office and work office effortless.”

Cisco Webex Meetings + Devices also removes some of the barriers that comes with siloed organizational structures. Video provides a human-centric way of collaborating, and allows employees to make deeper connections within the company by reading into body language and non-verbal cues. The importance that connecting with and trusting your colleagues holds for wellbeing in the workplace cannot be underestimated. When physical lunchbreaks and watercooler conversations are out of the question, employees can still meet face-to-face with videoconferencing technologies. See how to create a virtual watercooler with your team (internal and/or external members).

Staying up to date with technology in a fast moving world, concept. A young Asian woman is using an innovative future technology to view her phone data and functions in holographic display around her

Planet

One of the most crucial benefits that videoconferencing can have on the planet, is reduced CO2 emissions from business travel. With Webex Meetings + Webex Rooms, you can interact with colleagues, partners and customers from remote corners of the world with the touch of a button. International, executive, c-suite meetings shouldn’t be equivalent with airline miles: with dedicated room systems such as the Cisco Webex Room Panorama, you can meet eye-to-eye and feel like you are in the same room from across the globe.

According to the 2017 data from Global Workplace Analytics, remote workers have the same effect on air quality as planting a forest. They also estimate that remote workers who work outside of the office 2-3 days a week have the potential of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 54 million tons every year. By deploying and adopting Cisco Webex video collaboration software and hardware you are empowering your employees, helping reduce travel-related greenhouse gas emissions, all whilst experiencing true meeting magic.

Cisco Webex video collaboration software and hardware.Cropped shot of a handsome young man making notes while working at home

Profit

Then there’s profit. Not always the most exiting topic, but it is something that is essential for maintaining a healthy business. Forrester found that businesses that implemented Cisco Webex Meetings + Devices reported productivity increases from reduced time starting meetings, saving over $21.3 million dollars in productivity costs.

Further, less miles travelled means bigger travel cost savings: “After organizations got a taste for how real the video and holistic collaboration experience was, they started exploring ways to reduce travel costs. Interviewees reported IT teams choosing to hold annual meetings virtually instead of in-person, saving over $100,000 in their first year.”

Read the full Forrester TEI report here

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Employee whiteboarding with a house design guide, and making marks using the webex coloring tool
Creating digital teams in Webex Teams series — Chapter 3: Whiteboards, no line on the horizon

Creating digital teams in Webex Teams series

The “Creating Digital Teams in Webex Teams” series will spotlight techniques in managing and inspiring remote and #WFH teams.  Learn how the Webex Platform and Webex Teams can help transform your remote team into an engaged, creative and productive team no matter if people are across the hall, town or globe.

Managing a digital team using Webex Teams

As a people manager at Cisco, I manage a team spread across multiple time zones and countries.  There are many #WFH resources out there these days but for this series of blogs I thought I would focus on how to build and manage a digital team using the Webex Teams Platform.

For this blog we will be covering helping unlock your team’s creativity and engagement with infinite whiteboards in Webex Teams.

No boundaries

If you haven’t guessed already, at Cisco Webex, we work remote…. ALOT.  We can empathize with what it takes to work remotely better than most companies on the planet.  So, when we set out to build tools for our customers, we strive to make the virtual experience just as immersive, engaging and maybe even better than being there in person.  One way we do this is by bringing humanity and creativity into the collaboration workflow using what we call, Infinite Whiteboards.

In talking to our customers and looking at ourselves, we know that people collaborate in a lot of different ways.  Inside Cisco, we use whiteboards everywhere, it’s just part of our culture.  Many would agree that it’s easier to just draw out what you mean to communicate a new idea or a way to think about something different or just have fun.  In many of our physical locations, whiteboards are prevalent everywhere, even most of the walls are whiteboards.  So, we thought to ourselves, how do we reimagine that very human experience of collaboration and digitize it?  Answer, infinite whiteboards.

Get started with whiteboards

Get Started with Whiteboards. A whitebard dasshboard with Big Ideas Room Creativity Workshop and the tabs reading messages, people, content , and schedule

Click on the space in Teams that you want to meet/chat in and you will see in the space categories (messages, people, content and schedule), click on Content (green arrow) and then Whiteboards where the maroon arrow is located to get to the whiteboards.  From there you can select a new whiteboard from whatever device you happen to be using (laptop, tablet, phone etc) and just start drawing.  If you happen to be in a meeting, everyone in the same meeting (virtually or in the same room) will also see and be able to engage with the whiteboard using whatever device they have in their hand or in the room.

It’s alive!

Get Started with Whiteboards. A whitebard dasshboard with Big Ideas Room Creativity Workshop and the tabs reading messages, people, content , and schedule

Once you have opened up your whiteboard and started working on it with your team, all of the changes you make are automatically saved.  Anything you draw, add/remove stickies, etc all are saved magically.  Anyone that is invited into the space can pick up where you left off in the whiteboard and continue.  This makes working with teams really dynamic and fun.  Why is this important? As a manager, you can be much more inclusive with your team members when the tools can help facilitate everyone’s input when and how they want to contribute.

Share It

post snapshot and download. Image of the bottom right corner of the whiteboard that shows a Post a Snapshot and Download buttonOn the bottom right corner of each whiteboard there is a share button.  When you select that button, you will be able to Post a Snapshot of that whiteboard into the Teams Space you are in or you can send it out via a text message, email or post to another site as a PDF.

Examples of where to use whiteboards

With my team we often use whiteboards in many of the planning and strategy sessions we do both internally and externally (yes, you can do this too with people outside of your company). However, some other examples of using whiteboards:

  • Daily / Weekly stand ups or reviews with the teams
  • Project kick offs
  • Customer discovery sessions
  • Network topologies
  • Marketing Events
  • Storyboard design
  • Executive Workshops
  • eLearning / Concept development

Hopefully whiteboards was something that you are able to incorporate into your next remote team building session.  Stay tuned for Chapter 4: Webex Teams and Microsoft, the sweetest thing.

Experience the future of work with Webex

Learn more

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See all of the Webex Teams Releases here

How to launch a community with Webex Teams

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Working remotely with Webex. Office desk workspace and table background from top view above flat lay objects. Modern minimal design desktop for creative working. Minimalism concept.
Tips for WFH when everyone else is home

Stay on track from home with Webex

So, you’re working remotely how’s it going? If you’re like most people, its an entirely new experience. If you’re like me, you’re dealing with parenting, homeschooling, limited personal space, and cabin fever, all while keeping up with work. 

I’ve been a remote worker for six years now, thanks to tools I use every day like Cisco AnyConnect VPN, Cisco Webex Meetings, and Webex Teams. The transition to working remotely was easy for me back when I was all alone in my home office, my husband was away working in his office, and my kids were in school. Now that everyone in my household is working and schooling from home, I’ve had to make some adjustments. 

I’ve gathered a few real-world tips here for any of you who, like myself, are not only remote working, but also at-home parenting, teaching, self-caring, and everything else we’re doing in our homes now. 

1) Wake up, take a shower, and get dressed

  • Keeping some semblance of a normal routine has been crucial for me. I’ve gotten some time back in the mornings since I’m not getting my kids up, making them breakfast, and getting them off to school early in the morning any longer. Now, I get to enjoy a shower, drink my coffee, take care of my appearance, and revel in a little quiet time before all my new “coworkers” are awake and my workday begins.
     
  • When getting dressed, I go for a “business on top, yoga on the bottom” look. I’m on video meetings all day long, so maintaining a professional experience is necessary (usually, I can only be seen from the waist up). However, there are times I have to stand up and walk around, so being appropriately dressed on the bottom is important! No one wants to be that Webex legend who was on a meeting with no pants. Yikes!
     
  • I recommend dressing all your new “coworkers,” too—kids, spouses, partners, or anyone else who’s at home with you. Unexpected cameos in video meetings are common, and we’re guessing your family doesn’t want to be Webex legends either. Here’s my husband crushing the look. 

I recommend dressing all your new “coworkers,” too—kids, spouses, partners, or anyone else who’s at home with you. Caroline Wright's husband wearing a dark blue jacket a lilac button up shirt with purple and lilac tie wearing khaki shorts

2) Make it clear to family or roommates when you’ll be available and when you will be in meetings

  • I have a 14yearold, a 9yearold, and a 47yearold. They all need me or want to speak with me throughout the day. I have learned to set clear expectations for when I’ll be available and when my office is off-limits. I typically accomplish this by yelling at everyone about five minutes before my meeting starts: “I am about to start a meeting! I’ll be done at 3 pm!” or “I am in a customer/public meeting until noondo not come in my office, and NO FIGHTING!”
     
  • This won’t always be successful. My sons and husband have wandered into my office at times. If this happens to you, don’t sweat it. Life happens. Everyone is settling in to this new way of working, so forgive yourself and others if this happens to them, too. If your kids are feeling lonely, share your space with them. My younger son likes to bring his laptop into my office and sit next to me doing his quiet work while I’m on my video meetings–he knows how to stay out of camera view, and it’s fun for me to have him there beside me, both of us working sidebyside.
     
  • Be aware that others are in the same boat, juggling kids and priorities while doing their best to show up professionally as well. Grace and patience are something we all need to keep in mind for ourselves, as well as the people we’re working with.

3) Make the most out of your remote work environment

  • If you’re going to be on video meetings, make sure you have soft, natural lighting and that your surroundings are “video ready. Working from your bedroom? Make your bed and scoot that pile of dirty laundry out of view. Working from a shared space? Buy a screen to place behind youit will block out any of your surroundings so the focus can be on you. Many online retailers sell a variety of beautiful folding screens that can be used while you’re working and folded and put away when you are done. 

CarolineWright'ssonphotobombinghermeeting. Son peaking in from behind the door wearing red hoodie while Caroline wearing a white dress jacket and black glasses sees reflection and shows a smirk

  • A personal video endpoint device like the Cisco Webex DX80 is a gamechanger, but video works great with laptops and mobile devices, too! For the best video experience with any device, ensure your video camera is at an ideal level. You’ll want your camera at or above eye level to avoid the unfortunate “camera up the nose” look or the dreaded double chin.

    If you don’t have a fancy laptop stand, use a stack of books, puzzles, or an empty box to ensure your laptop and camera are at an appropriate viewing angle. You want to make sure you show up nicely in your video view. Before joining a Webex Meeting, you will see a preview of your video, which is the perfect time to adjust your hair or your camera angle.   

remote office laptop atop board games including roundies and cadoo on top of a foldable table and rocking chair used as a deskchair

  • Anywhere can be a remote office. Use what you have!
  • Use a headset. I love, love, love my headset. It has excellent noisecanceling capabilities, so when my kids decide to reenact WWE or my dog goes crazy barking at squirrels, that background noise doesn’t make it into my meetings. As a best practice, I keep my line muted when I’m not speaking or presenting. When I do speak, it’s great to know those noises won’t become a distraction for the other folks in my meeting. The headset also helps me tune out the distractions that may be happening in my house.

4) Block out time on your calendar for lunch and breaks

  • Seriously. Do this. Especially if you have kids who aren’t old enough to make their own lunches, launch their virtual classroom tools, or just need some hugs during this crazy time. Blocking out time on your calendar helps ensure you are taking care of yourself and those who depend on you. It also lets coworkers know when you’re unavailable. Take a break. Eat lunch with your partner or kids, walk outside (six feet away from others, of course), put that stack of laundry in the washing machine.

I hope these tips will help you adjust to working remotely. Please reach out to me with any questions on how my family and I are making this new life work for us. We’re not perfect, but we’re making it work, and I’m happy to share our experiences. 

Learn more with guidance on working remotely

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About the Author, Caroline Wright

Caroline WrightCaroline leads the Enablement efforts for Cloud Collaboration Customer Success at Cisco. She is passionate about creating a welcoming culture where ongoing development and education deliver a world-class Customer Success team for Cisco’s Collaboration suite.

Before Cisco, Caroline had over 10 years of SaaS industry experience in sales, customer service, and training. She lives in Holly Springs, North Carolina, outside the state capital of Raleigh with her husband, two sons, and their dog. She loves going to the beach, traveling, reading, 90’s hip hop, and honing her mad trivia skills. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

 

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How to launch a community with Webex Teams. Young woman looking at video
How to launch a community with Webex Teams

Learn best practices and the tools needed to use Teams like a boss

Webex is known for the Meetings platform, but the newest addition to Webex is a complete collaboration platform called Webex Teams. Teams is a messaging app with video conferencing capabilities built-in. It is an extremely secure solution with bots, integrations, desktop sharing functionality and more. This article will go over what Webex Teams is and how to use it when starting a virtual community as a resource space for a FAQ, office hours, or even an office watercooler.

Why Webex Teams over Facebook Groups or other chat apps

  • Facebook is a great tool and I use it for my family and friends, but it can be too distracting to get work done as you can get constantly wooed away by shiny distractions in the news feed and sidebar.
  • Extremely secure. Our model has a core layer and a security layer that are kept separate from one another. See Security Whitepaper.
  • We don’t sell and collect data
  • Video, whiteboarding and desktop sharing is native within the app
  • No multiple account logins or workspaces. You can have different people from different companies join your Webex Team space without switching between different organizations to messages users. Email doesn’t function like that. Neither does Webex Teams.
  • Teams can also display the presence status of end-users if they’ve been away, are in Do-Not-Disturb state, on a video (orange camera icon), sharing their desktop (red rectangular icon) or on a phone call. The bottom image provides the avatars of end-users that have read your messages, such as green as available or red crescent moon for Away/DND.

Prescense Notifications.
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Read receipt avatars.
  • Webex Teams is FREE
  • No messaging search limits or restrictions
  • Search everything.  Searched keyword, user, date, or another parameter. Attach files, like PDFs and Word docs, and search within those files too.No alt text provided for this image
Search tab and options.

A virtual community use case – Webex Ambassadors

We will use the Webex Ambassador Community as a case study for this article. Webex Ambassadors started as Spark Ambassadors back in 2016 as an internal Webex community of developer evangelists and it has evolved and grown over the years. This community now has over 2,600 members globally. It also includes various Special Interest Group spaces for various topics. I will break the article down into five categories to start your community.

  1. Promoting Your Community
  2. Setting up Webex Teams
  3. Managing Your Community
  4. Bots & Integrations
  5. Tips & Tricks

Promoting your community

Landing page

The first thing you want to do is have a site that gives users an overview of what they are joining. You can check out ambassador.webex.com. Here is our “Join Now” call to action button to join the community.

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Code of conduct & community guidelines

These are policies or best practices for your community. You want to make sure you cover rules of engagement, ethics and legal issues, spam, and how users can post. Here is an example of the Ambassador Code of Conduct & Guidelines. Every user must agree to the code of conduct before they can join the space. This is listed in our web form.

Inviting users & automation with a sign-up form

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Here are some cool tricks you can do with Webex Teams workflow integrations. Having an auto-sign up using Typeform or Google Forms is rather easy. Applications like Zapier or Built.io makes it a lot easier to integrate these applications. For example, you can have a workflow that once a person signs up on Formidable Forms, they are added into a mailer, like Mailigen, then added to Smartsheets and then finally added into Webex Teams.

We have other ways end users can join your community spaces such as using the bots and integrations. We will dive more about this in the Bots & Integrations section.

Install the desktop & mobile Teams app

First, download the Webex Teams app. You can use Teams on multiple devices, from the browser on your computer’s desktop to a mobile phone. It’s best to use the native desktop app instead of the browser as it will have more features.

Setting up Webex Teams

  • Create a team, a space and add moderators. The video below will show how to create a team and a space. If you need an overview of what a Team and Space, it is explained hereWebex Jargon: In the Webex world, we call “channels”, “spaces” because we associate them to physical spaces, but just virtualized. If you ever have to use the Webex app with a Webex Rooms video device, you’ll see it associate to a space (not using Bluetooth) using ultrasonic frequency pairing for desktop sharing and video conferencing purposes. That office space also has a physical video device tied to that virtual space in Teams. Check out a demo here.
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Note: Cisco Intelligent Proximity pairing uses high-frequency sound in the 20kHz to 22kHz audio frequency range to establish a connection. Here, Webex Teams is my app to control my work from home device, the Cisco Webex Desktop Pro.

Here is a quick video on how to first create a Team and then a Space in Webex.

 

  • Create a space. Click on the “+” icon to create a space and give it a name. Here we will call it “Webex Community.”
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  • Add members. Next, go to “Members” and add a team member. You can add them by entering the user’s email address.
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  • Add moderators. Once you add them, you can “right-click” on the name and “Assign Moderator of the Team.”
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  • Manage & customize your space. Here we will add space icon images and disable the function of @all as it can be annoying if there are thousands of people in a space being notified. We will also recommend converting the “General” space into an “Announcement Mode” space. If you need to share important information with your team, without the distraction from other conversations happening in the space, you can use announcement mode in any moderated space just for announcements. On teams, the only space that’s moderated is the General space so that’s the only space where you can use announcements. Only the space moderators can post in Announcement Mode spaces.No alt text provided for this image
  1. To enable, go to the General space -> Moderator settings -> “Disable @mentions to all” and “Turn on Announcement Mode.” Once enabled, users will see this notification.
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  • Add a space name and image. You can change any space name except the General space for your team. Furthermore, any member can change these details unless the space is moderated, then it must be done by a moderator. You can also change a space picture, by uploading a picture for the space. The file has to be under 10 MB and ideally a square image between 200×200 pixels and 1000×1000 pixels.No alt text provided for this image
  1. To change the Space image, go to Edit space settings -> Click on the camera icon and “Add Image.”
  2. To change the Space name, double click the space field to enter a name.
  • Public or private spaces. Creating a moderated space means that only moderators can add users to the Team. By default, all spaces are a Private space or an invite-only space. Public spaces can be created if you add the EURL bot, which we will discuss later. Overall, this is how you can control who joins your community.
  • Enable restrictions for guests in Team spaces through Webex Control Hub. Webex Control Hub is the administrator portal page to configure Webex. As a moderator, you don’t need access to this, but if you want to set various global permissions, you need to ask your administrator to grant you access to set this up. One example is to control how people are added as guests to team spaces, they aren’t members of that team. You can prevent these guests from adding and removing participants, changing the space name, and editing space settings.
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  1. Go to admin.webex.com -> Services -> Scroll to “Team Guest Restrictions”
  2. Toggle Enable restrictions for team guests to on.

Managing your community

  • Multiple moderators. As your community grows, it is ideal to have multiple moderators to help monitor if chats are in compliance, to delete inappropriate messages, add or remove bots, and to perform backup moderator tasks. Bonus Tip: Try to have moderators from different parts of the globe to cover various time zones for additional support.No alt text provided for this image
  • Post rules on a monthly or quarterly basis. It’s always good to remind your community the do’s and don’ts when posting in a space. Here’s an example of what we send in our Ambassador space. Note that this is a template using Markdown formats and then how it would look like rendered in the space.

Hello 👋🏻 Ambassadors, we want to share a few **Ambassador house rules!**

**Rules** 📜

  1. 💬 Before asking questions in a space, please check Google or specifically the [Help Portal.](help.webex.com)
  2. ❓If you can’t find your answer, post your question in the appropriate community space. For example, technical questions should be posted in the Engineering space.  Learn about these Community Spaces [here.](https://ambassador.webex.com/webex-teams-communities/)
  3. 👊🏻 To help us keep it fun, helpful, safe, and friendly, we ask that you comply with our [Community Code of Conduct.](https://ambassador.webex.com/code-of-conduct/)
  4. 🙊 Do not use the **@all command, create a new Space, add bots or add users to the Spaces without [signing up as a Candidate.](https://ambassador.webex.com/ambassadors/)**
  5. 🤔 If you have support questions, including certificates, please direct your message @ModeratorName.

Let me know in a DM if you have any other suggestions or have questions.

**Have a great weekend.**


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  • Notifications. A space can get noisy especially with thousands of users messaging. You can customize how you want to be notified in a space.
  1. Go to the Space -> Settings Icon -> Notifications. As a moderator, I only respond to @Mentions only.

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  • Place a spotlight on power members of your community. Whether you’re highlighting customer stories, testimonials, or users who represent success, take an opportunity to frequently recognize stars in your own community.

Bots & integrations

Below are some essential bots to help you start and grow your virtual community.

  • Email2Teams bot. The email2teams bot will take all the participants in an email thread and migrate the conversation to Webex Teams. This is a great way to invite new users to Webex Teams as anyone not already signed up for Teams receives an email invitation. Once registered, they’re automatically added to the space. Here’s how to use the bot.

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  1. Open your email. In the ‘To’ line, add the emails of the users you want to invite in the space. In the BCC line, add “bot@email2teams.com” (the ‘To’ & ‘CC’ fields won’t work).
  2. The bot receives your email, creates a Teams space with the ‘Subject’ as the title, then leaves.
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  • EURL. The EURL bot is short for “External URL.” The intention of this bot is to create a public space and provide a URL where users can click the link, enter their email and join the space. Let’s add the bot, “eurl@sparkbot.io” to the space.
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  1. Once you add the bot to the space, it will provide you various commands. Here we will open up this space externally to users outside our organization email domain, which is capitalfactory.com.
  2. To add external users outside capitalfactory.com, type “Eurl internal off”
  3. The URL that was generated is: https://eurl.io/#vHLeL9CMF Feel free to join the space to test the bot out.
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  • Once you click on the EURL link, an end-user can join this space by clicking on the URL that was generated. You can learn more about the bot here on the Webex App Hub.

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  • Power Pack. This is a very handy tool that is used to invite new users to a new space or into an existing space. It is a free service that bulk add users by uploading a CSV file. You can also send broadcast messages to multiple spaces at once. Learn more about the bot here.
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  • Translate bot. There are a lot of translator bots on the Apphub like Chinese, German, Filipino, French, and more. You can add these bots into a space. Here is an example of an English to Spanish bot for our LATAM Ambassador community. You just @mention the bot and enter the text you need to be translated. You can learn more about the bot here.

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  • Inquire bot. This bot isn’t meant to be deployed in large spaces, but it has been proven useful in areas where there needs a way to track FAQ or in this case bugs. In this example, this is an internal space to post bugs for Webex Teams. You can see users posting images and answers and then engineers and product managers posting an answer in the space and it automatically ties into Jira to create a case. The Inquire bot is a knowledge base bot and has three main functions.

1) Ask Questions – Capture questions that were asked inside a Teams space. Here the end-user is asking to file a bug and is @mentioning the Inquire bot.

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2) Get Answers – Provide a way to answer those questions and ensure the original questioner receives the information they need. You can @mention the bot and answer in the space, or you can click on the “here” link and answer on the web as well.

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3) Gather Knowledge – Assemble a knowledge base of all the information that is gathered amongst Teams spaces. You can also export the FAQ to a CSV file.No alt text provided for this image

You can learn more about the Inquire bot here or check out the demo video below.

  • Webex Ambassador welcome bot. This is just an example bot to welcome new Ambassadors to our Webex community and outlines a set of rules to adhere to. The bot will 1:1 the new user that is added to the space and send them this message. The bot monitors new memberships and must be in the same space the end-users are joining. The code is on Github if you would like to implement it for your own community.

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Tips & tricks

  • Space titles with EURL. Having a title is important. If you want an external space and not having people to @mention the bot to know what the space URL is, it’s best to add it in your title. Here is an example title for the xAPI Developer space with the EURL link.
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  • Use reactions as a way to poll users or use Pollbot. Here is an example to use the “thumbs up” as a way to poll users. You can use reactions or if you want to get more detailed you can use various applications like PollBot or you can use free web polls like Polltab.
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  • Use threads. Make sure people are aware of the “Reply to Thread” option to keep communications easy to read. Just hover over the message and the “reply” arrow will appear.

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Reply thread conversation.
  • Support spaces. Within Webex Ambassadors, we created a specific space for support. On our website, we specifically told users to join this space for issues with their certificates or application. This helps cut down noise in the General or main community space. You also want to make sure your moderators will be seen by your end-users as support. Be prepared for this.

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  • Create a space directory. There are a lot of communities and spaces you can provide for your company by creating a directory website. These spaces, people can join by click on the”Join” created by the EURL bot. You visit this actual site, here.
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Final thoughts

Overall, this is just a quick way to start a community in Webex Teams. If you have questions, leave a comment. If you find this article helpful, please follow me and share this blog! 👍🏼

Bot credits

Thank you for the following people making the Ambassador Community bots. Note that if the bot isn’t on AppHub, it isn’t Cisco TAC supported. Cisco owned Integrations include: Email2Teams. This bot was created by former Webex Innovation Team Member, Marcello Federico. The following bots were funded by the Webex Innovation Team and created for Ambassadors: EURL bot created by Cisco TME Randy Birdsall; Power-pack.io created by former Cisco SE, Brad McAllisterInquire Bot, created by former Webex Innovation Team Member, Aman ChabraWebex Ambassador Welcome Bot on GitHub, created by Cisco SE Marcel Neidinger.

Learn More

Connect with all blogs in the Creating Digital Teams in Webex Teams

See all of the Webex Teams Releases here

Webex Teams — say hello to the new in- space design

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Make online learning more effective with these best practices. Young woman student working on laptop sitting in library at home
Make online learning more effective with these best practices

Cisco Webex Research Blog Series

The Design Group at Cisco is a global team of Red Dot Award winning creatives who explore peoples’ needs through research and empathy to make the world a better place to work. This series explores their research and some best practices to make everyday interactions more effective. 

Read all the blogs in the series

Implementing best practices in online learning

As more and more learning moves online, educators and students are scrambling to figure out how to make online education effective. The research team at Cisco Webex spent time with educators and students to understand their needs and challenges in the online learning environment. Based on the interviews with 39 educators and students in the US and Europe, we have compiled a list of best practices that could help educators and students to get the most out of online learning.

Educators:

  • Test Class If this is your first virtual class, then do a test class with a colleague. This will help you get acquainted with the meeting tool. Test out scenarios that includes sharing screen, muting the microphone, turning off and on the video and muting students
  • For the actual class itself, join the meeting 10 minutes early and ask your students to join early as well to iron out any audio or video issues before the beginning of class.
  • Effective role-taking If taking attendance is required for your class – call out names and have students feel comfortable talking through their microphone. This is more effective in a small class scenario.
  • Class engagement To ensure class engagement, structure your class into 15-20 min intervals spaced by activities that involve discussion with everyone. Additionally, ensure you content is a mix of one-way lecture as well as content sharing (using screen-share) which can bring variety to the class.
  • Improve engagement Class engagement can also be improved by having students type their questions into chat. Have the chat panel open and try and keep an eye if questions are coming in.
  • Having your video on during the lecture will help students feel comfortable about sharing theirs and help them be more engaged. See how video improves communication during any conference call
  • Encourage your students to have their video on – this will help you understand how to the class is feeling and also help students be more focused. See how turning on your video is a better way to communicate.
  • Record classes so students can go back to it when in need
  • In case of ambient or background noise coming from one of the participants in the call – as a host you can mute that participant during class or even mute all if needed.
  • Schedule office hours online with students to ensure they are doing okay with the transition to online classes. This also presents an opportunity for students to provide their feedback
  • If possible, end class 5 minutes early so students have the time to switch to their next class in time.

Students:

  • Thwart technical issues Check your audio and video settings to ensure that they are working properly. If possible, join the class a few minutes early to triage any technical issues.
  • Chat Use the chat option to interact with your peers as well as your educator. Check out how to get started with Webex Online Classes
  • Office hours Connect with your educators 1:1 during office hours for follow-up questions and clarifications.
  • Video on Keep your video on so your instructor as well as peers can see you. However, if you experience bandwidth issues, turn off your video so you don’t miss out on the class.

Please be on the lookout in this space as we share more tips on how to improve online education experience based on our research and connect with all of our blogs here.

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 About the Cisco Webex Research Team

Kathryn Parkes, Senior UX Researcher
Kathryn is an experienced user researcher based in Dublin, Ireland reporting into San Jose. As a member of the UX Research team, she leads research projects across the Webex Suite working with various Cisco Collab teams in Ireland, US and across Europe. The team use a broad variety of research methods, including user interviews, usability testing and benchmarking studies, to get a deep understanding of Webex user needs.

Varshine Chandrakanthan, Designer User Experience
Varshine loves observing people and their actions – hence she decided to become a User Researcher. She is passionate about creating an impact to people’s lives and loves to volunteer for education and human rights programs. Her interests include designing tattoos, illustrating for books, eating cake and meditating.

Mani Pande, User Experience Manager
Mani leads the user research team in San Jose. Her team is responsible for understanding the needs of Webex users to inform product strategy and direction, and ensure that the software we ship is not only simple and easy to use, but also delightful. You can find her and her team members huddling with Webex users understanding how they use our software and mapping opportunities of improvement. In another life, Mani worked as a reporter for the Times of India, India’s largest selling newspaper, covering media and crime. Outside of work, Mani loves to travel, cycle, run and cook. She posts photos of food that she cooks and places she visits on Instagram.

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The Ultimate Webex Events Guide from Start to stream in under 2 minutes. Happy smiling business man using digital tablet
The ultimate Webex Events guide: From start to stream in under 2 minutes

Using Webex Events to live stream

In a digital-first world, companies are rethinking their everyday means of communication. So in a time when digital events are becoming more common, how can we continue to enjoy the physical events, digitally?

Cisco Webex has several solutions to help address this. Here, I’ll walk you through how easy it is to use Webex Events, or known as Webex Event Center, to do a live stream. This blog came about after assisting Capital Factory, USAF and AFWERX, to virtually host their SXSW conference. Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett and Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition Tech & Logistics Dr. Will Roper were among the main speakers for this live event. In less than 48 hours of planning, they were able to virtualize an 8-hour event using 15 different Webex Event panels, which hosted over 122 panelists, and 184 Webex attendees. This also included a Webex integration into a Youtube live stream bringing together close to 5,000 people from different parts of the world. You can check out Capital Factory’s blog on how they pulled it off here.

Capital Factory & AFWERX Live Stream

Here’s a great overview of what Webex Events can do.

Scoping your event

The first question I get about live streaming an event is, “Why should I use Webex instead of Facebook Live, YouTube, or other live streaming services?” The simple answer is this: if you want to bring in multiple people around the world in a panel format, do live audio Q&A, and also stream out to attendees, this is the best solution. Furthermore, with Webex Events, you can also have up to 200 dedicated endpoints to be in the Panelist meeting. Endpoints will always provide the best audio and HD video experience in meetings. However, you can also use an HDMI/USB Camera switcher or adapter card if you do not have a Cisco endpoint and use your own video camera to record the event. Below is a list of the main differences of Webex Meetings vs Webex Events. Note that you still can use Webex Meetings for Live Events.

Webex Events vs Webex Meetings

Virtual event planning

Let’s take a step back on what Webex is. Imagine that you were at the physical event and on-site. You would have to visit each floor or room to see the actual event. Here, we created 15 different Webex Event links or URLs. Imagine these links as a “virtual room.” You will provide and invite your panelists and attendees to these links. Since Capital Factory had 15 different panels, 15 different Webex links had to be generated.

If you’re curious, how Capital Factory structured the event, you can see it here.

Understanding Webex Event roles

There are four main user roles in Webex Events. The Attendee, which is the viewer joining your event and then the Panelists, which include the Host and Presenter. Below is a consolidated list of the roles of the Panelists. Think of the Host as the admin or creator of the event that can mute, un-mute, expel users, start the recording, and answer Q&A’s. The Presenter has some of the same capabilities as the host, but you want to have a specific user focused on their tasks for the online event. We recommend a minimum of two Panelists (Host + Presenter) if you want to have a smooth event. Learn about the roles here.

Setting up Webex Events

For the purpose of this blog, we will just focus on the main setup options. The configuration below takes less than 2 minutes.

  1. Go to your Webex site and click on “Webex Events”. Typically, it would be yourcompany.webex.com.

2. Once in the Webex Events section, go to “Schedule an Event.”

3. You will notice a lot of options to schedule your event. The red arrows are the main touchpoints to configure in order for you to start your meeting. Once you are done with your settings configuration, click on the “Schedule This Event” button.

4. You will now see your Event Information. You can always go back to “Site Events” to see your scheduled events. You can manually start your event by going to the “Start Now” button.

5. The Webex app will now download and install. In this setup, I used my Webex Desk Pro as my video endpoint. You can see the other button options as a Host.

You can use the “Start Practice Session” feature as the “backstage prep” for your event. This is where the Panelists can talk with each other before and after the panel and the Attendees cannot hear what’s going on.

You can control the Attendees and participants for the event with the “Mute on Entry.” The “Unmute All” is used if you want to open the floor for audio Q&A.

Webex Events also has a few cool features if you need to quickly add a Panelist. You can provide the Panelist the SIP or phone dial information and Panelist password by going to the top left, Information or “i” icon.

Finally, you can also email a Panelist the Webex Event information or if you are in a pinch, in the unfortunate event a Panelists PC reboots or crashes, there is the option for Webex to call their phone and automatically join.

Joining the event

Attendee View

This is the email invitation that the attendees will receive once an event is scheduled. Note that the event password is in the email.

Upon clicking the big green “Join event” button, the Attendee will now enter their information and event password. You can join by downloading the app which is done automatically as you hit the “Join Now” button or you can use WebRTC by clicking “Join by Browser.”

Desktop App

This client is in WebRTC mode. Once in the meeting, you can use the Q&A panel to ask the Panelists questions, raise your hand, provide feedback or even take polls.

Apple iOS Mobile app

Here you can see the join flow and the variety of options that you have with the mobile app. Webex is also supported on Android as well.

Once the event has ended, the platform can automatically send out surveys and you can configure various “Call to Actions” such as a website popup.

Integrate with YouTube and other platforms

You can integrate Webex to YouTube or Facebook Workplace using partners like VBrick or REC.VC. Take note that VBrick only supports Webex Meeting Center, not Event Center. REC.VC supports both since you add REC.VC as a participant into Meetings or Events (as a Panelist) and it streams it out to their service.

Below is the setup page of REC.VC. You can add any SIP or H.323 endpoint and even enter a PIN. All video can be recorded on their platform if you want to keep your video private. You can join the Webex Teams Community here to learn more. You can start using REC.VC immediately by signing up on their 14-day Free Trial.

Recording

Webex can record your event and transcribe your meeting. This becomes very helpful if you want to search for various keywords and jump to specific parts of an eight-hour-long event. If you want to keep your meeting internal, you can use the native recording functionalities in Webex, or use VBrick or REC.VC. The downside of external third-party platforms like YouTube and Facebook Live is that your content is now public and is owned by the 3rd party streaming platforms.

Free Webex & resources

Sign up here to get Webex for free. This package gives you desktop and mobile access for 100 participants, toll-free dial-in, screen sharing, recording and more.

Also, check out our Webex Business Continuity Resources Planning site. It has advice and technology recommendations for dealing with operational infrastructure challenges during this period of Remote Work with great end-user “how-to” guides.

[Update March 24]: Here’s a nice recording that goes into a deeper dive on Webex Events Training. Check it out here.

Cisco Offering Webex Events 3000 Free to Customers

Cisco is also extending an offer of providing Webex Events 3000 to customers for free. One month of service is provided for one (1) Named User and must be renewed and approved if the extension needed. Webex Audio (if required) can be added at Standard Discounts. Of course, customers can choose to use VoIP only at no cost if they choose to. This offer needs to be ordered through the partner.

Community support

Join the Webex Ambassador Community on Webex Teams and sign up as a Candidate if you have questions.

Final thoughts

Live streaming a panel isn’t difficult once you go through a practice dry run. Cisco is here for you during these hard times. Please read the blog from our CEO, Chuck Robbins, about our commitment to you.

Overall, this is just a quick overview of how to use Webex Events. To learn more, please go to help.webex.com. If you need immediate access to Webex Events, please reach out to me and I’ll be happy to host one for you.

Stay tuned for more blogs on live streaming best practices. If you have questions, leave a comment and share this blog!

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Webex Integration Partners join Cisco in offers for education

When people are working remotely or engaging in distance learning for the first time, they face a bit of a learning curve to become proficient and productive. The same goes for organizations, as they learn and truly understand what it takes to respond and support these new requirements.

As you may have seen in the blog from our SVP and GM for Cisco Collaboration, Sri Srinivasan outlines what we at Cisco Webex are doing to proactively expand our meeting capacity to respond to the incredible volume of new users looking to take their work and daily activities online. Cisco is committed to helping through this difficult time, and one way we are doing so is by expanding on capabilities for the free Webex offer, in all countries where it is available.

Announcing Webex Ecosystem integration offers

This free offer has inspired many of our Webex Ecosystem partners who build upon our unified platform, to create offers of their own, helping in this time of technological need. Our software partners have joined with us to provide unique and even free offers to protect and enable distance learning, while minimizing the disruption that comes with the change.

When addressing the needs of educators, the power and extensibility of the Webex platform delivers the best in class distance learning experience for the instructors, students and IT staff. Specific to education, our Webex Ecosystem is stepping up to provide integrations with these fantastic solutions:

VBRICK

When a larger live stream event is needed to communicate to the student body, faculty and staff, Cisco’s partner Vbrick has a free limited time offer for schools looking to leverage live streaming events, to replace cancelled large-scale destination events.  This is a simple, effective and easy way to reach out and communicate to the education audience. Also, in Webex Meetings there is a new streaming option for Vbrick Rev from the native Webex Meetings client.

Learn more about Vbrick Free Large Event Streaming.

INVOLVIO

Higher education institutions around the world are moving teaching and learning to completely online methods. To help institutions deliver continuity, community, and support for students who are newly virtual, Involvio is introducing “Remote Campus.”

Remote Campus helps institutions rapidly deliver the core components of the campus experience to students on their phones anywhere they happen to be. Through integration with Cisco Webex and the Cisco Webex Education Connector, students can easily stay connected on video and seamlessly join live classes from anywhere. Remote Campus is free for all Involvio customers, regardless of license tier, and discounted for all Cisco Webex customers.

Remote Campus App

 

VYOPTA

Potential challenges in supporting remote learning and instruction have also become a great concern for IT administrators.  IT departments want to deliver best secure experiences as well as provide proactive support in this new era of online education.  Vyopta offers help in a few valuable ways such as providing student attendance compliance reporting, ensure high quality video performance, tracking student engagements with the meeting platform and more.  They’ve launched a free plan to help measure engagement of students in virtual classes, and monitoring call performance and quality with their special offer. Be sure to check out their upcoming webinar with Cisco’s own Dr. Lance Ford on distance learning.

Thetalake provides a purpose-built compliance product suite for automatic policy detection of regulatory risks, compliance workflow, and archiving for video marketing, video conferencing, and audio recordings. They are offering their Compliance and Supervision Suite for Webex Meetings/Teams at no cost for 3 months

Thetalake

Ensuring students, faculty and institutions are well protected, tools are needed to detect risks in audio, visual, document, spoken, shown, and shared content in audio and video content.  Thetalake provides a purpose-built compliance product suite for automatic policy detection of regulatory risks, compliance workflow, and archiving for video marketing, video conferencing, and audio recordings.  They are offering their Compliance and Supervision Suite for Webex Meetings/Teams at no cost for 3 months.

Appspace

For those students and faculty that have on campus commitments, it is important to keep information visible and available.  Many schools have enabled digital signage on campus devices with key messages and reminders. Appspace provides a Coronavirus playlist for signage on Webex Devices service for free up to 25 devices to Educate students and faculty with an informative channel about protecting against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Okta

For IT staff’s deploying new services can be overwhelming. Okta provides efficient process to rapidly deploy Webex organization wide and simplify end-user adoption.  This offer has been made available at no cost to easily onboard users to new Webex service with seamless SSO and full provisioning and security.

Prezi

Moving from the physical class to a virtual is an adjustment. The need to make online learning engaging can be a real challenge. Prezi Video helps you create compelling and creative video content for students in online learning environments. Present or record with your content right alongside you on the screen, so you can maintain a human connection with your students without losing important context and visual aids. Make classroom/training presentations more fun and engaging using Prezi with Webex Video.  Get your free account and check out the blog on best practices in education.

Make classroom/training presentations more fun and engaging using Prezi with Webex Video. Get your free account and check out the blog on best practices in education.

Kaptivo

For instructors that relish teaching in a more traditional method by using whiteboards, Kaptivo will connect your analog whiteboard to Webex Meetings and post to Webex Teams to create a digital classroom. To assist teachers/staff who are new at providing  remote learning, Kaptivo is offering a free whiteboard for those working from home who purchase a Kaptivo camera.

Kaptivo-ad-animated(1)[2]

 

CirQLive

If your school uses an LMS (Learning Management System) that is not covered with the Webex EDU Connector, or you have other requirements, CirQLive is offering free usage of their Webex LMS integration platform for 90 days. They are also offering consulting services that include best practices in online learning.

With the combination of Cisco’s powerful Webex platform and these unique partner integrations, students and teachers can quickly ease into the transition of remote learning and get back to what really matters. IT admins can also feel confident that these solutions have the right level of security and control to protect their education environments. Learn more about our partner solutions by visiting the linked partners.

For questions on the above Ecosystem offers, reach Cisco’s partnership team at webex-ecosystem@cisco.com

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Creating digital teams in Webex Teams series: Chapter 2: Stay faraway, so close with Webex Teams

Creating digital teams in Webex Teams series

The “Creating Digital Teams in Webex Teams” series will spotlight techniques in managing and inspiring remote and #WFH teams.  Learn how the Webex Platform and Webex Teams can help transform your remote team into an engaged, creative and productive team no matter if people are across the hall, town or globe.

Managing a digital team using Webex Teams

As a people manager at Cisco, I manage a team spread across multiple time zones and countries.  There are many #WFH resources out there these days but for this series of blogs I thought I would focus on how to build and manage digital team using the Webex Platform with Webex Teams. 

For this blog we will help answer a question we get asked a lot:” …how do you create and organize a workshop when everyone is remote?” 

Build your team 

A common function of teamwork is to coordinate and collaborate across many different workstreams to achieve a common goal.  In some cases, this could be as simple as responding to a customer’s RFP/RFQ, preparing for a product launch, or planning customer workshop.  In all of these cases, building and bringing your team together was often the easy part, doing this over an extended period of time and performing this remotely can be very challenging.

Creating Digital Teams in Webex Teams Series – Chapter 2: Stay (Faraway, So Close) using tools built right into Webex Teams

For a workshop or classroom, one would often have reserved a main office room and then a series of breakout rooms nearby for different groups or teams that could go off, collaborate on their particular objective and then come back to the main group to share, discuss, etc.   

However, the problem with most video conferencing and messaging tools are that they were designed around a particular meeting or topic and not necessarily for the project or workshop which could last a day, a week or longer.  Also, many times a group would need to meet “offline”, not with the greater group, to work an idea or process and then come back to the larger group later.  Webex Teams is great to solve these types of use cases which, at Cisco, is often a primary means for how we get work done across multiple teams with our partners, contractors and customers in many cases. 

Create a purpose

First, think about the workshop you want to run.  The workshop may have a theme, a small team of moderators to facilitate the event and members or participants that would need to be involved in the event.  Get familiar with Roles within Webex Teams and how these roles impact the event. 

For each Team you create, a General Room is automatically created in Webex Teams to use for topics, discussions, meetings that pertain to the group as a whole, like a general-purpose room. Next, each space that is linked to that Team is now its own collaboration space with a unique virtual meeting link, whiteboards, messaging, content share, etc all in one place. Creating a team in webex teams

 

Next, the organization of the event, just like the in-person event, would have breakout rooms, workstreams or spaces where each group in the workshop would go and collaborate together.  For each Team you create, a General Room is automatically created in Webex Teams to use for topics, discussions, meetings that pertain to the group as a whole, like a general-purpose room.  Next, each space that is linked to that Team is now its own collaboration space with a unique virtual meeting link, whiteboards, messaging, content share, etc all in one place.

Here is an example of a Space Meeting Information (join URL, video address and dial in information for any type of user): 

Space meeting information. Screen to schedule a meeting, copy and paste the meeting information, and people's email address into your calendar invite.png

Stay in sync 

The best part of this setup within Webex Teams is, especially with remote teams, everyone can get engaged and stay engaged. When you are in an office setting its really easy to walk down the hallway and see where everyone is meeting/connecting just by looking in the rooms.  However, when you are remote this can be very challenging as the physical room is not available.   

With Webex Teams, you are able to recreate that experience in the physical world but virtually. Each room /space now is represented in the Webex Teams client. So you can see in real time who is in the room and who is meeting which helps keep your team engagedWith Webex Teams, you are able to recreate that experience in the physical world.  Each room /space now is represented in the Webex Teams client.  So, you can see in real time who is in the room and who is meeting which helps keep your team engaged.

Participants

You are probably asking then, “…what happens when you eventually go back into the office, are you able to use Webex Teams then for that same type of experience? Answer, yes.

When the Webex Rooms are in your physical location (say in all of your meeting rooms), the rooms now can autosense the people.  In the example to the right, I am in a meeting connected wirelessly to a Webex Board and now everyone that is invited to the Webex Team space can see me associated to the physical room as well as the virtual room.  This also holds true for all of the content and whiteboards you share in the virtual room now can be part of the physical room as well bringing a whole new meaning to business continuity.   

Get started

At Cisco, we use this Teams framework for all sorts of use cases, here are some examples that can help you get started:Creativity Workshop

  • Company Wide Event Planning
  • Customer/Partner Strategy Workshops
  • Developer Hackathons 
  • Virtual Training Delivery  
  • Community Engagement / Outreach 
  • Multi Topic FAQs and “Ask” Rooms 
  • Marketing Outreach / Planning 

I hope that with some of these examples, provides some inspiration on how to build a virtual collaboration team that is both productive and engaging.  

Stay tuned for the next blog post: Chapter 3: Teams Whiteboards: No Line in the Horizon and make sure to stay connected with all the blogs in the series here.

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How to get more comfortable on a video conference call

Video conferencing calls can understandably make some people nervous. After all, enabling a video feed in a group collaboration session gives others direct insight into what you look like, as well as the background environment you’re operating in.  For shy participants, video conferencing can seem like a major hurdle to overcome, and can be far less preferable to alternatives like phone calls or email discussions. However, there are many benefits. Let’s explore the benefits of video conferencing, as well as tips to get more comfortable showing your video.

The benefits and challenges of video conferencing

Video conferencing has become a lot more popular over the years. Previous technical issues related to video quality and ease of access have mostly dissipated, as numerous devices have become more than capable of supporting a high-definition video feed. According to Wainhouse Research, 94% of organizations utilizing video conferencing say it increases productivity (1). Every minute spent in an unnecessary meeting is one that could have been spent on a more worthwhile task.

How does it help in this way? First, it reduces distractions by effectively requiring everyone in the video meeting to focus on the task at hand, instead of extensively multitasking as is possible when on a call or team chat. Video also lends itself well to demonstrations and the use of visual aids, for example, during a webinar or presentation. Finally, setting up a video link can provide useful context and clarity for remote workers who otherwise might not see other team members that often.

Still, being on camera (which is what dialing into a video conference entails) isn’t easy for everyone and can make video conferencing dreadful. So, let’s look at some tips for becoming more comfortable when on a video conference.

1.Use notes to keep your thoughts on track

Discomfort while participating on a video call often causes shier participants to lose their trains of thought. This makes sense, because they’re probably thinking primarily about the pressure and scrutiny of the meeting and only secondarily about what’s being discussed.

Overcoming this issue is easier with written or typed preparation. Sticky notes or comments and questions written down in a digital notes’ application and open in another window/app can help. They provide a reliable framework that the user can work within while on a video call.

Basically, preparing and using notes helps participants avoid awkward silences and the discomfort that comes from feeling like they can’t contribute to the conversation.

2. Set up the right environment before the call begins

Some of the pressure that comes with a video conference might stem from anxiety about what the participant’s environment looks like. In 2017, there was a famous incident involving an international relations professor participating in a video interview with the BBC, when one of his children entered into the frame and interrupted the conversation (2).

The disruption became a popular social media meme for a while, but it underscored a key risk that people sometimes contend with on a video call: Worrying about what’s going on in the background or how their workspace looks.

Fortunately, these fears can be somewhat alleviated through preparation. Pay attention to the lighting and to what’s behind you when your face appears on the video feed. Choosing a quiet room with a door may be beneficial, since it will minimize noise and give you more control. For instance, you can prevent others from walking behind you while you’re on camera or making noises that might distract participants. Here’s more on how you can work smarter anywhere when working remotely.

3. Make use of mute and pause controls

Like phone calls, video conferences always come with the possibility of unwanted background noise (e.g., dogs barking, kids playing, outside traffic, etc.) that can disrupt the session. Moreover, with video there’s the additional risk of on-screen distractions.

This is where the mute and pause controls within a video conferencing solution come in handy. Modern video conferencing lets callers mute their own audio and if you’re the host, of other participants, too. Muting minimizes noise and is especially useful for participants who aren’t currently speaking.

Pausing a video feed works in a similar way. During a video conferencing session, it’s possible to stop the video feed at any time and then resume it as necessary. That allows for greater privacy, which less-comfortable participants could use for a quick break to regroup.

4. Do a practice run with a friend or co-worker

Some of the discomfort that people might initially feel on video conferences can be traced to simple unfamiliarity with the format. A person who doesn’t join these meetings regularly might feel anxious about participating since the entire setup seems intimidating to them.

Practice is a good solution to these sorts of concerns:

  • First, it lets participants get familiar with how the interface and underlying technology work, including the in-call controls for muting and pausing.
  • Second, it lets them get used to how they look on a camera and what others can see in the background.
  • Third, it lets them rehearse what they might say and become more comfortable with the idea of speaking on camera.

Webex makes the video conferencing experience as easy and intuitive as possible, from start to finish.

To learn more, get started with a free plan of Webex today.

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Resources

(1) Wainhouse Productivitiy Research

(2) BBC interruption video

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Embracing the rise of remote working. Japanese man in casual clothes using a laptop and his son using a smartphone on the desk. He's working and doing childcare at home.
Embracing the rise of remote working

Is remote working the new norm?

Even if you don’t consider yourself a remote worker per se, you’ve likely done work beyond the confines of a traditional office. Quickly checking email on your phone, brainstorming ideas for an upcoming pitch, or joining a conference call while on your commute – these are all tasks that can be done well, from anywhere, with no need for either a work PC or a dedicated desk.

A very brief history of telecommuting

The trend toward frequent and full-time remote work began decades ago in the U.S., but only reached escape velocity relatively recently. The 1970s oil crisis, the surge in traffic gridlock (a term that was, coincidentally, coined in the ‘70s, too), and the rise of stay-at-home parenting all contributed to the very early growth of telecommuting. Then, technology caught up.

Tools such as real-time workplace chat, video conferencing, web conference calls, and more are now readily available and make it much easier for employees to stay in the loop no matter where they are. These solutions enable richer, higher-quality interactions than were possible using just emails or phone calls.

Why remote work is worth supporting

Recently, some companies have had to make a sudden shift to remote work. But for others, this shift was already taking place:

  • Global Workplace Analytics estimated that the number of businesses offering telework options to employees increased by 40% from 2014 to 2019 (and now even more in 2020). (1)
  • Meanwhile, between 80% and 90% of the workforce would like to work remotely at least part of the time.

5 perks of remote work

What will the workplace of the future look like? How should your organization approach remote work arrangements? Remote work offers many benefits to everyone involved. Let’s look at five perks:

  1. Lower costs

Think of the typical SMB’s budget and what it goes toward. After the mostly locked-in expenses of salaries and benefits, some of the larger line items will usually include travel and real estate.

Telecommuting helps curb these expenditures. Instead of needing a sprawling office, an organization might choose a smaller, denser space with the assumption that many of its employees will be working elsewhere much of the time.

Likewise, the company travel budget can be trimmed. Traditionally, meeting with a colleague or client basically required taking a road trip or booking a flight. Not anymore. With video and HD voice, it’s possible to have a virtual conference call meeting that feels like being in the same room, all at a much lower cost than actually traveling.

  1. Improved morale, with less turnover

Why do people leave their jobs? It’s complicated, but long commutes are definitely a common reason why.

According to a University of West England survey, adding 20 minutes to a commute had the same negative effect on job satisfaction as a 19% pay cut for the study’s subjects. No one likes being stuck in traffic. (2)

Remote workers don’t have to confront this issue. As long as they’ve got a stable internet connection, they can work from home, a public place, or a nearby branch site instead of making the long trek into HQ. That’s good news for morale and for their chances of staying at the firm.

  1. Increased productivity

Working remotely can boost productivity in several durable ways:

  • Since commutes become less grueling or even non-existent, employees have more time to focus on their work.
  • The distractions of some types of office spaces, like having to contend with constant noise from in an open floor plan layout, are eliminated entirely.
  • Remote workers can use devices they know, plus utilize the full bandwidth of their internet connection since there aren’t sharing it with potentially many others.
  • Individuals with health conditions that might be difficult to deal with in an office, or worsened by a commute, can more easily take care of themselves.
  • Remote workers can get creative with leveraging the power of online tools to improve productivity. Grammar checkers make it easier to edit written content, project management software keeps things streamlined, and cloud storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive make it easier to share documents across teams.
  1. More opportunities for expansion

Allowing employees to telecommute can double as a company expansion strategy to new locales. If your business is growing and looking to target customers in different markets, then remote work lets you recruit workers with more flexibility and fewer limitations.

Of course, there are still some constraints, like needing to be incorporated in each state in which you conduct business operations. But having telework options available means that it’s more practical to create lob listings with broader appeal. Candidates can apply without needing to price in the cost and time associated with a commute.

  1. Better time management

Not everyone is a morning person. But commute-driven jobs almost require you to be one.

Impact of flexible work schedule

With remote work, there’s more flexibility in how an employee sets and uses their hours. Telecommuters have more discretion over when they start work and take breaks, allowing them to be productive on their own schedules. And, as we noted earlier, they have more time to begin with due to not commuting or having to constantly tune-out various in-office distractions.

What you need to get the most from remote work

There are a few things that flexible working arrangements need to succeed. The first being the leadership support to create a culture that encourages this type of flexibility. Establishing trust and accountability from the top down, is critical to foster a remote working environment. You also need the right collaboration solutions. The ability to easily create and join a video conference call, plus add context through messaging, digital whiteboarding, and file sharing, is essential.

With the right approach and the right technology, you can create a culture that embraces the remote workforce—and positively impacts the business.

If you are new to remote we’re here to make the change easy. Check out more ways to keeping you connected to your team

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Cisco Webex: Supporting customers during this unprecedented time

Working smarter anywhere – Working remotely 

3 tips for working with remote team members

References

(1) telework options to employees increased by 40% from 2014 to 2019

(2) commute time and job satisfaction

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3 tips for managing a virtual get together. A group of friends hanging out and drinking wine. Four young women in the webex meetings space. Wine glasses are put in the air to toast.
3 tips for managing a virtual get together

Meet by virtual means

Working from home? Me too.

It sounds pretty fun (and definitely has MANY perks), but can also get a bit isolating.

As remote working trends continue to increase, the shift from the office to the home “office” can feel big if you’re used to frequent water cooler conversations, taking  lunch breaks with your colleagues, and planning happy hours after work. Even for a regular “work-from-homer,” I still find myself going a little stir crazy every so often.

If you’re missing your friends or colleagues (who may also fall into the friend category), here are 3 tips for hosting and/or attending a virtual get-together:

Plan a time

If you’re with your colleagues, look at their calendars and find a time that works. You can even use a team collaboration space to suggest times, using reaction emojis, like the thumbs up, to let others know if a specific time works for you. If you don’t have visibility into calendars or a space with all invitees, texts or survey’s work as well.

Assign a host

This person is in charge of figuring out the time, sending out the invite, remembering to show up. Like a host at a party, they can greet people who join the call and mediate if everyone starts talking over one another. Prior to the call, or at the start of the call, it’s important to lay out a set of “guidelines” as well as what they should expect.

For people who have never joined a video conferencing meeting before, you can let them know in advance that they may need to download the app (if joining from a phone or new device). And it’s fun to see everyone, so encourage them to use a device with a camera.

Because there can be background distractions and noises, ask attendees to keep themselves muted until they would like to talk. In addition, unlike normal happy hours or get-togethers, side conversations are near impossible. On a video conference, they tend to result more in people talking over one another. If this happens, suggest that people try the chat tool to either directly message one person, or the entire group.

If you’re the host and need to leave early, you can assign a new host.  That way the call won’t end for everyone.

Change the layout

Webex offers three views: active speaker view, active speaker and thumbnail view, and grid view. Instead of just seeing only the person talking, change to the grid-view where you can see up to 25 different screens. This view allows for you to see everyone’s reactions and makes it feel much more like you’re all together in person. It can also help in seeing if someone is trying to talk or when someone is finished talking, limiting interruptions.

Don’t forget your snacks and drinks! Host a virtual cheers at the beginning of the call, just like you would normally if you were in person. Don’t let the computer screen prevent you from ordinary get-together rituals.

As for planning your next get together, do it before you go! Use the polling tool to suggest times and have everyone vote in real-time.

Little things can go a long way in starting a get-together, especially for those new to the video conferencing arena. So, do you think you’re ready to virtually hang out with your friends? Start planning!

And if you don’t already have Webex, you can sign up for the free offer, with an unlimited meeting time!

We hope these tips help your next get-together run smoothly! See how @bshaughn of NYC consultancy makes virtual happy hour’s happen

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Take instruction to Webex: Connecting one pilates enthusiast to another

Creating digital teams in Webex Teams series: Chapter 1: When you are with or without your office

How technology creates better interpersonal connections

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Man working at his (home) office whearing a red tshirt underneath a yellow jacket working on a white desktop computer on a white table . In the background there is a white bookshelf with books on the top shelf, a struffed animal pelican hading ont the shelf, with a multi-colored ball on the fourth shelf. It is dusk outside as seen through the window behind him, with fours plants on the shelf. Laying in front of him on the corner of his desk is a little blue bowl filled with original gummy bears
Administrators’ 3-step guide to managing devices remotely

Easy remote device management

Managing Webex Room devices is as simple as using them! Using Webex Control Hub, administrators are able to configure and troubleshoot devices remotely. Regardless if you have direct network access to the device, here are 3 tools to help configure and troubleshoot devices.

1) Advanced configurations

First tool I will mention is about configuring devices. While the out of the box experience for Webex Room devices will work for every standard workload and workflow, sometimes you need to modify a certain configuration for a specific workspace. A lot of administrators are used to using the on-device web interface, but with Control Hub you can change configurations in seconds directly in the portal. Click on any Webex Device and open up “Advanced Configurations”. You can apply hundreds of configurations directly here. Keep an eye out as we make it even easier to modify bulk configurations in the near future!

Advanced Configurations experience for Webex Room devices showing search bar for configurations available with the Cisco Webex Board status, the users name, the IP address, and the applied changes

2) Manage logs

The next tool is a brand new one we just released! We heard from customers and partners that it was hard to troubleshoot devices that were not on the same network as the administrator. We got you covered – it is now possible to troubleshoot issues quickly and more efficiently. Manage Logs is now available in the Devices page to allow you to easily generate and download log files which can be used to self-troubleshoot or reference with TAC if you need to contact us to help!

Generate logs by the Cisco Webex Cloud screen showing blue button to generate log, the tiem, feedback ID, action and the ability to download and refresh as well the the blue close button

3) Troubleshoot calls

The final tool is how administrators can troubleshoot calls directly in Control Hub for Webex Meetings. Call Diagnostics in the Troubleshooting section has got a recent improvement to let you search not just by User or Meeting ID but also by the Device Name. This will allow you to view live data updated in 60 second intervals. You can access information like packet loss, jitter or even resolution.

Diagnostics troubleshoot screen in Control Hub for Webex Meetings showing the video quality, status, and threshold exhibiting in a graph with blue, green and purple lines

These are just some of the tools available for Webex Rooms customers in Control Hub and we are adding more updates monthly to What’s New in Cisco Webex Control Hub

Learn about how Webex Rooms can help face to face collaboration even between thousands of miles or kilometers (for those fellow metric people)

Learn More

Click for all of the Webex Control Hub updates

Fast track your adoption with Cisco Webex Control Hub

Improvements over RoomOS releases from Control Hub

Apply branding to your conference devices

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4 tips to run a great meeting. Man standing in front of meeting screen leaning on chair talking in a meeting in front of a computer screen in front of a desk
4 tips to run a great meeting

Bring productivity back to your meetings

The prospect of having to sit through a meeting doesn’t always excite everyone. Although meetings have the potential to be fun and collegial gatherings that also help move projects along, many of them don’t live up to that promise.

What can go wrong in a typical meeting?

Sometimes, meetings can consume a lot of time and make participants feel disconnected from what’s going on across the company at large:

  • In fact, unnecessary meetings are the No. 1 time-waster in most offices, accounting for untold hours and billions in wasted productivity every month.
  • As much as one-third of all meetings in a given month are deemed unproductive, and it’s not hard to see why: Between late starts, unfocused agendas, and outdated collaboration tech, many participants can’t stay engaged.
  • Unproductive meetings exact steep costs in other ways, too. For example, a “1-hour meeting” is actually much longer, since it takes that amount of time away from everyone who joins it. So, if there are 10 attendees, the meeting is actually consuming 10 hours that could be channeled elsewhere.
  • Along similar lines, traditional meetings require office space. A conference room that someone might be using to take an important call instead has to be devoted to a big gathering that could end up not being all that productive anyway.
  • Remote workers can feel isolated when meetings aren’t engaging. Inadequate communication/collaboration as well as loneliness are among the most cited drawbacks to working remotely, and how meetings are run is a big reason why.

On the bright side, meetings don’t have to be unproductive. With the right tools in support of a coherent strategy, you can run meetings that cover everything you want while keeping everyone engaged. And now, with so many people working from home, it’s important to understand how to help employees feel connected. Here are four proven tips for taking your meetings to the next level.

Tip #1: Send a written agenda in advance and establish context

Why are so many meetings unfocused? Because no one, other than maybe the host, really knows what’s going to happen or who is participating.

That’s why it’s important to send out an agenda containing the main points you want to cover in the time allotted. In Webex, you can add an agenda directly to your meeting invite.

Having an agenda creates structure and helps you maximize the time you have. Once you write everything down and ensure it’s covered point by point, you might even find that you have time left over and can end the meeting early, which is good news for everyone’s productivity as they can get back to other tasks.

As for establishing context about who will be in the meeting, this is where cognitive collaboration solutions can make a real difference. These AI-driven platforms can pull information from multiple sources, such as public social media profiles and various directories, to create context and enable more seamless collaboration

Tip #2: Make it easy to join the meeting

How much meeting time is lost to simply trying to get the session started? Invitees may have to dig through their inboxes to find the dial-in or link, and even when they have it ready they might need to jump through a few hoops first.

Downloading applications and plugins, entering a PIN, finding a compatible device – these complications make meetings overly complex and less useful. To get things back on track, think about simplifying the join process.

A collaboration platform like Webex lets you invite anyone and everyone with a simple set of steps. Most of the time, it’s just a singular “step” – tap or click the button to join when it’s time. Whether someone is using a PC, Mac, phone, tablet, or standard-based video conferencing system, participation in straightforward.

Tip #3: Use video technology, if appropriate

Video conferencing provides benefits that no other meeting technology can:

  • First, it’s the best way to feel like you’re in the same room as everyone else despite being physically far apart. HD video and audio allow for high-quality interpersonal connections in meetings.
  • Second, it lets attendees see reactions and body language in real time. Those insights are missing from conversations that happen over email, chat, or traditional phone call, and they are valuable for bridging cultural divides.
  • Third, it goes hand-in-hand with collaboration capabilities such as screen sharing and recording. A video meeting can benefit from the real-time sharing of an application, document, or entire screen, plus it can be easily shared later with anyone who couldn’t make it

Video meetings are good for many different use cases. You can set up one to touch base with internal staff, recruit and interview candidates for open positions, host a webinar, and much more.

Tip #4: Follow-up as needed

When a meeting ends, sometimes the host will send an email that summarizes what happened and provides a link to the recording. This is a good approach, since it reinforces what was covered and can be especially useful for people who weren’t able to join.

There are other ways to follow-up beyond just email, though. A recording of the meeting can be very informative, plus there’s the option to use a chat app to share additional collateral and thoughts in real time. With Cisco Webex, you can follow-up with ease and host the most productive meetings possible.

Learn more by getting started with a free plan today!

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Love your meeting!

Webex Meetings and Microsoft Teams: Working better together

Skip the trip with Webex Meetings

 

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Connecting one Pilates enthusiast to another. Pilates instructor holding pose on a yoga mat on a wooden floor with legs at a 45 degree angle and hands lifted two feet off the ground wearing plum-colored yoga pant and multi-color athletic shirt and her blonde pony tail and ear buds exhibiting a slight sweat
Take instruction to Webex: Connecting one pilates enthusiast to another

Virtual instruction

“Whoever thinks 10 seconds goes by fast has never done Pilates.” Thankfully Ursula’s Pilates studio didn’t let too many seconds go by before figuring out how to keep her clients engaged when unprecedented times shut down fitness studios in Germany.

Ursula has run her own Pilates studio for the past 10 years, investing in new equipment and constantly building and increasing her client base. So, when she had to temporarily close her studio doors, she had to think hard about ways she could continue her Pilates training.

With her husband working for Cisco, it was a no brainer that he encouraged her to use Webex.

Streaming live Webex lessons to engage in real-time

Implementing Webex has allowed Ursula to continue instructing her Pilates lessons. Not only can she instruct her clients on the next move, but she can perform live demonstrations, checking that her clients are doing the moves correctly and safely, not hurting themselves. The 2-way conversations enabled by Webex allows for a far richer experience than a normal prerecorded video. With #LifeOnWebex, her clients can have real time conversations, build relationships and keep up with each other as they normally would within the walls of her classroom.

Her clients remain fully engaged during the virtual Pilates sessions, keeping spirits high, hearts strong and minds healthy during these unprecedented times.

Times like this require thinking out of the box. Taking lessons virtual with Cisco technology has opened new doors for Ursula and her clients. Noticing new members have joined her classes has made Ursula realize that not everyone can travel to the studio every day. Ursula plans to expand her business model by adding virtual training sessions along with her in-person lessons when the studio reopens.

Webex has helped Ursula continue her business, strengthen the health and immune system of her clients, and provide some peace of mind.

A free Webex Meetings Plan can help keep your business fully-engaged

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Pilates Studio Ottobrunn

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Creating digital teams in Webex Teams series
Creating digital teams in Webex Teams series : Chapter 1: When you are with or without your office

Creating digital teams in Webex Teams series

The “Creating Digital Teams in Webex Teams” series we will spotlight techniques in managing and inspiring remote and #WFH teams.  Learn how the Webex Platform and Webex Teams can help transform your team into an engaged, creative and productive no matter if people are across the hall, town or globe.

Managing a digital team using Webex Teams

As a people manager at Cisco, I manage a team spread across multiple time zones and countries.  There are many #WFH resources out there these days but for this series of blogs I thought I would focus on how to build and manage digital team using the Webex Platform with Webex Teams. 

Connecting your team  

First, what is Webex Teams?  Webex Teams is what I consider my collaboration “nerve center” where all of the people I work with, the apps I use, and the meetings/tasks/workflows associated to getting work done are located.  Its where all of the activities before, during and after meetings can live, and, if done right, you can shorten your meetings and maybe not have as many meetings throughout your day but everyone can be on the same page regardless where they are located.  Here are just a few pointers to get you started. 

Get some space 

Go here and learn about and setup your Webex Teams account.  Next, you will need some Space.  Yes, everyone needs a little space.  A space in Webex Teams is like a virtual huddle room you can have with 1 to as many people as you want where you can message each other, share files, co edit files you have in OneDrive and Google, post pictures, GIFs, and capture all of the activities before, during and after a meeting on Webex.  At Cisco, we use Microsoft OneDrive, Sharepoint and Smartsheet a lot and within Webex Teams it brings everyone’s ability to co create content, materials and projects in a much more efficient manner.  (screen shot of ecm integration or video link) 

Create a space and a meeting in one step 

As a best practice I setup a space in Teams, in this case “Joshua Tree Project”( highlighted in a yellow box in the picture), that could be about a particular topic/idea/outcome with a group of people (which could include partners and suppliers – notice the external user in the invite) and schedule the initial meeting in just a one step process.   

calendar creation graphic that reads "Joshua Tree Project" with an image of a black and white joshua tree

If you have Calendar services enabled with Webex Teams you can create a Webex Teams space automatically from your meeting calendar invites from Outlook or Google:
1.  Create a meeting invite in Outlook / Google and invite the people you want to the meeting
2.  In the location field, type in @webex:space 
3.  Hit Send.   

Then, auto”magically” your Webex Teams space will have all of your participants and meeting title as the name of the space.  That’s it, chat, message, call, meet, share with your team. 

Create a space and meeting in one step. Image of Calendar services enabled with Webex Teams

Create a virtual watercooler with your team (internal and/or external members) 

In this time of uncertainty, people are feeling isolated at times and that can cause stress and anxiety.  To help bring a sense of community and togetherness, at Cisco we have leveraged Webex Teams to create “Ask Rooms”.  An Ask Room is just like a virtual watercooler in your office.  People can post messages, questions and others can respond with reactions, answers etc.  At Cisco we have found the level of engagement in these rooms is pretty high and people love to keep in touch with each other.  And better yet, create an ASK space with your customers/partners too, you will be surprised how much a little TLC can go!  As a customer and partner obsessed organization, we on average have 30-40% of our spaces with external, outside of Cisco, participants.  This helps diversify our community and accelerates new ideas.   

Simply create a space with a topic that you feel would have a wide audience, invite people to it and invite the EURL bot (eurl@webex.bot) to help provide a URL link for users in your company to discover and join by sharing the link on an intranet page or email.   For smaller groups, you can create a Team within Webex Teams and add people as members, then as you add more Ask spaces, everyone will get invited and aware of the space.   

Ask COVID-10 Collab

If you have a watercooler type room with your immediate team, keep things light.  On my team we often share pictures from our weekends, family event and we even have a goat farmer in the tribe that keeps us updated on best practices in raising goats (and yes, I mean real goats). 

Be genuine and be yourself 

In work, as in the rest of our lives, being recognized is just an important as the work itself and having each other’s back is important.  This idea is even more with working remote where giving the extra pat on the back or seeing someone in the hallway and letting them know you appreciate what they did doesn’t happen easily when everyone is virtual. 

Within Webex Teams we have the ability for people to add GIFs and reactions to messages within context along with notification of who left the reaction etc.  Keeping things light within the Team is important these days, don’t you agree?  (pic of reactions in teams, thumbs up, celebration emoji etc).

Keeping things light within the Team is important these days, don’t you agree? (pic of reactions in teams, thumbs up, celebration emoji etc)

 

Stay active, have fun 

It can be really hard to balance communicating to others if you are available or not and where you could be located at any one time.  Many times, I am in a meeting or sharing my desktop or other times I need some quiet time to get some work.   The problem that occurs is then people start messaging/interrupting/calling it can be really difficult to get anything done.  This is where Webex Team’s presence really shines.

Webex Teams can automatically show if you are away from your app, if you are in a Webex meeting, sharing your desktop and even on a phone call.  Secondly as a user I can create custom statuses (screen shot below) to my community so they know either where I am located, if I need some quiet time or if there is an important message I want them to know.  For me personally this has brought much needed balance back into my workday as I can feel connected to the team and vice versa without having to sacrifice my mental well being. 

Webex Teams can automatically show if you are away from your app, if you are in a Webex meeting,

Well, that’s a few pointers for now.  The next blog post will be Chapter 2: Stay (Faraway, So Close) covering co creation tools built right into Webex Teams. 

Partner with Cisco and have a true global reach

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Connect with all blogs in the Creating Digital Teams in Webex Teams

Cisco Webex: Supporting customers during this unprecedented time

Working smarter: Managing a remote team

Welcome to my virtual office — Webex Teams and my workstreams

 

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March update of Webex Teams. Smiling woman sitting at her computer facing a colleague and smiling while talking wearing a white button up shirt
March update of Webex Teams

It’s here! This month’s update marks the arrival of the highly anticipated new in-space design! To get this exciting update with lots of other cool new features, download the latest version of Webex Teams from here.

MESSAGING

A brand new in-space design (Windows and Mac)

Get ready to become a lot more productive! We’ve redesigned how you work inside a space. Now, you will experience a sleek new layout with all your most important in-space features and actions just one click away. The aim of this new design is to improve discoverability and usability as well as to make the app truly scalable.

If you would like a detailed description of everything that’s changed with this design update, this blog walks through everything step by step.

For an at a glance visualisation of what’s changed, check out this dedicated help page.

A brand new in-space design (Windows and Mac)

On the go custom status (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

In February, we made it possible to add a custom status on your desktop. Now, you will be able to do the same on mobile. If you’re running late, stuck in traffic, or out for lunch, you can let everyone know right from your mobile. Access this feature on mobile by clicking your avatar. Any status you set will stay active for up to 7 days unless you clear it.

On the go custom status (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

Turn off @all mentions (Windows and Mac)

We all know someone who is a little too fond of using @all mentions. In larger spaces, this can be really distracting and almost feel like spam in your inbox. Now, in moderated spaces, moderators will have the ability to disable @all mentions for everyone in the space. This toggle is available on desktop in Space Information under Moderator Settings. When turned off, a notification is sent into the space to let everyone know it’s no longer possible to @mention to all in this space.

Turn off @all mentions (Windows and Mac)

Organize your spaces (Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad and Android)
For anyone who hasn’t yet discovered this great way to organize your spaces list, Separate People and Spaces will be turned on by default. This can be easily turned off by clicking on your filters at the top of your space list and unticking ‘Separate People and Spaces’ or by going to your appearance settings. Users who have already toggled this feature will see no change.

CALLING

Webex Calling

Forward your calls (Windows and Mac)

If you’re going to be away from your desk but don’t want to miss an important phone call, you can forward your calls to another phone number. Or, if you don’t want to be interrupted, you can send all your calls to voicemail instead.

We already support Call Forwarding in Calling in Webex Teams (Unified CM) on your desktop. See this help doc for more information.

Let’s make it a conference call (Windows and Mac)

Collaboration just got easier. Need another opinion while you’re in the middle of a call? You can now add up to 6 people while you’re in a 1–to–1 call.

We already support conference calls in Webex Teams (Unified CM) on your desktop. See this help doc for more information.

I have a voicemail! (Windows and Mac)

No more missing calls in Webex Teams. If you’re using Calling in Webex Teams (Webex Calling) on your desktop, you’ll see a red badge counter (message waiting indicator) next to the Calls tab letting you know you have a voice message. If you want to listen to your messages, go to the Calls tab and click on Call Voicemail to dial into the voicemail system. From your voicemail system, you also can record a personal greeting, delete a message, and so on. After you listen to your messages (from the app or your desk phone), the red badge counter disappears. Get more information here.

Unified CM

Is that another voicemail? (Windows and Mac)

If you’re using Calling in Webex Teams (Unified CM) on your desktop, you’ll now get a dedicated Voicemail tab to manage all your voicemails. There’s a red badge counter that lets you know how many voice messages you have. You can check out the details of a message, play it, mark it as read, delete it or call back the sender. After you’ve listened to your messages, either with Webex Teams or your desk phone, the red badge counter disappears. Get more information here.

Let’s make it a conference call (iPad and Android)

We’re making collaboration even easier. Need another opinion while you’re on a call? You can add up to 6 people while you’re in a 1–to–1 call.

We already support conference calls in Webex Teams (Unified CM) on your desktop.

Merge two calls (iPhone, iPad, and Android)

When you’re on a phone call and you receive an incoming call in Webex Teams, you can merge the two phone calls into one and have everyone in the same call.

We already support merge if you’re using Calling in Webex Teams (Unified CM) on your desktop. Check out this help doc for info.

INTEGRATIONS

New ServiceNow Bot for Webex Teams! (Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad and Android)

Integrate Servicenow with Webex Teams today using the new Servicenow Bot from the Webex App Hub. Easily create, update and resolve incidents directly from any group or 1:1 space. Talk to your Servicenow admin to get custom real-time notifications keeping your team in the know whenever there’s a new situation. Learn more here.

To see this great new feature in action, check out this video.

 

Connect Smartsheet with Webex Teams! (Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad and Android)

 

Connect Smartsheet with Webex Teams! (Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad and Android)

Do you use Smartsheet for project planning and tracking? Now, you can connect Smartsheet with Webex Teams using the new Smartsheet bot. Easily setup real-time notifications for sheet changes, comments added, or even new sheets shared with you all from a Webex Teams space. Now you can quickly add comments, rows, and even share a sheet with a colleague using the latest bot. Get started with more details on the Webex App Hub here.

New ServiceNow Bot for Webex Teams! (Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad and Android)

 

For more information on this and upcoming updates to Webex Teams, check out our help page here.

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See all of the Webex Teams Releases here

Webex Teams — say hello to the new in- space design

Working smarter anywhere — Working remotely

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6 tips for working from home with kids. Father Works On Laptop As Mother Helps Son With Homework On Kitchen Table
6 tips for working from home with kids

As more people than ever embrace remote work, our next challenge is mastering the art of working from home…with kids. Here are some tips and tricks to keep your little ones entertained and you productive while working remotely.

1) Answer the why first 

Depending on how old your kids are, they may or may not fully understand why they’re home from school or why you’re at home (but still working). Take the time to set some rules and expectations on what normal looks like now. Be clear on when it’s ok to make noise—or not—or when you’ll be available to sit and do activities with them, what situations mean it’s ok to knock on the door and when you need to be quiet in the house.

For example, telling them that you’re working from 9-12 and 1-5 lets them know that you are going to be busy throughout the day during those times, but they can expect to see you for lunch. For older children, setting simple rules like ‘a closed door means you need it to be quiet during calls’ could be all it takes to keep your sanity throughout the day. Many of our coworkers set a policy that the kids need to send a message online or open the door quietly to get your attention if the door is closed.

2) Set a schedule 

Keeping a routine is hard in this new normal, but a necessity for some kids. We’ve found that taking some time to plan out a schedule so they get used to waking up, doing planned activities, studying, and going on walks really helps keep things as normal as possible.

Another option is to let the kids set their schedules and timers using connected devices. For example, they can tell in-home smart devices to set a timer (or use the kitchen timer) throughout the day to keep them on track.

3) Work as a team 

With so many companies encouraging or mandating remote work, you may be lucky enough to be working at home with your partner or have friends or family able to help. If so, plan who will have some downtime to entertain the kids and when you can switch off.

If you have a big meeting that requires no distractions or unnecessary noise, consider arranging an activity for the kids to go outside to play (if available). Other activities like board games or specific school assignments can leave you some quiet time to focus. Big siblings (depending on their age) can also be enlisted to help with the younger kids throughout the day. Click to find other great ways that technology creates better interpersonal connections.

4) Talk with your manager about flexibility 

With so many of us working remotely, most leaders are anticipating and accepting the challenges of working remotely, including dealing with distractions. If your kids are up early and don’t nap until the afternoon, work with your manager to schedule essential calls around that time. Or ask for non-traditional working hours so you can maximize your time when your children are sleeping at night.

You can also explain that they’ll be running in and out of the room throughout the day and to not be surprised when one of them makes a cameo on a video call. You may be surprised with how many of your coworkers are in the same situation and open up conversations you would never have had in the office! At Webex, we welcome kids or pets as part of the work from home experience! Check out this article on getting the the most out of work-life balance.

5) Never stop learning 

Whether you regularly homeschool, your child’s teacher has sent home digital or physical schoolwork, or you just want your kids to keep learning while home, there are a few ways to engage your kids in learning. Set times throughout the day for reading, completing assignments, doing puzzles or other activities that challenge their mind, or any other learning-related activities they can do. If you have a tablet or computer, set aside time for your kids to play a fun educational game—they’ll be learning, but really, it’ll feel like fun (and keep them occupied).

6) Keep them busy 

Managing kids while working can be a challenge, so our design team made a quick set of coloring guides for kids of all ages (and adults, too). Download your set and print it out for a few minutes of peace today! Have any other tips to share about how you succeed working remotely? Let us know by tagging us on social media with the hashtag #lifeonwebex.

Download your free cs.co/kidspack today!

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Cisco Webex: Supporting customers during this unprecedented time

Working smarter anywhere – Working remotely 

3 tips for working with remote team members

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

Together, Remotely

Many of our colleagues in the US, EMEAR and around the world are currently facing the twin challenges of working from home to keep essential communications up and running, AND the difficult task of keeping their children entertained during school shutdown.

The design team at Cisco thought we’d help with two simple ways to keep them and their children entertained: first we made a colouring book with signage and characters from our Webex Teams app, to help connect children to their parents work. We also made a collaborative playlist that anyone can join, so we can all jam along together while we work!

Read the full article https://medium.com/cisco-collaboration-design/together-remotely-e25ee3c7425a

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Cisco Webex: Supporting customers during this unprecedented time

Working smarter anywhere – Working remotely 

3 tips for working with remote team members

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RoomOS Monthly Update: March 2020. Close up of a young man working in an office
RoomOS Monthly Update: March 2020

This month, the software team have been cooking up some real treats for you guys.  In March, we are focusing on making the way you collaborate with your personal mode Webex Room devices more seamless and efficient, as many of us find ourselves working from home. If you do, check out some tips and tricks on how to work remotely.

The first two features are cloud benefits, whilst the latter two are available for both cloud and on-premises.

Guest code for wireless sharing

Most offices receive a constant flux of people. When these people come into your office for a meeting, it can be rather tedious to ask them to download an app in order to wirelessly share to a room device. Many times, they also require access from an admin to download new software on their work laptops, which is not the most practical thing in the world when you are a guest at a different office. This new feature allows guests to just go to a website and enter a code found on the device, and by doing this they can wirelessly share to a device, with the only requirement being a good internet connection. Whether they want to share an app, the entire screen or just a tab from their browser, it can be done with a simple step.

Guest Code for Wireless Sharing

Easily join your personal room in personal mode

In January, we released wireless sharing for personal mode from the Teams App. We really want to make it easier for you to get stuff done from your personal Webex Room device, so this month we are releasing a Personal Meeting Room (PMR) shortcut in personal mode! Joining your Personal Room is now quick and straightforward – only a click away. You just click the Webex button, and you should see a green button next to your Personal Room address at the bottom of the page. Click it, and you are in your PMR. Easy, right?

Easily Join your Personal Room in Personal Mode

Joining personal room from inside the Webex button

When you click the Webex button, you can now choose to write a Personal Room URI. Previously, it used to be only digits, but now you can use actual words, which is great news for those of us who struggle to remember long strings of random digits (aka most of us). Because of this, you can make a call from your previous dialing history, so if you have dialed a Personal Room before, it will be saved in the history of the Webex button and auto-populate as you type. This feature is available for both on-prem and cloud devices.

Meeting title privacy

There are many different reasons to why people wouldn’t want the titles of their meetings to be publicly displayed. Maybe you are discussing a sensitive topic such as a workforce reduction planning, or maybe one about employee appraisals and salary negotiations. Either way, you might not want everyone walking past the booked meeting room to know what the purpose of the meeting is. To solve this problem, we are providing admins with an API setting on the device, so that the meeting title will be hidden. This feature is available for both on-prem and cloud devices.

That’s all for this month. Stay safe and take care of each other.

Click to learn more about what Cisco Webex is doing to support our customers in these unprecedented times.

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See all the Webex RoomOS releases

Webex Meetings and Microsoft Teams: Working better together

Skip the trip with Webex Meetings

Working smarter anywhere – Working remotely 

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