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The new Webex Assistant
Meet the new face of Webex Assistant

Your workplace digital assistant has a new look and, coming soon, an expanded experience.

The new face of Cisco Webex Assistant

You may be familiar with Webex Assistant, the AI-powered voice assistant for work. Now known as Webex Assistant for Webex Rooms, our original digital assistant allows you to control compatible Webex Rooms devices with your voice, making it easy to join a meeting with just a few words, manage your meetings and devices from anywhere in the room, and much more.

As we continue to enhance our collaboration platform with new AI-powered features, we’ve made some improvements to help make your day-to-day tasks more enjoyable. As of June, you’ll see that the hexagonal icon in Webex Assistant for Rooms has been replaced with the new, friendly face of Webex Assistant. With engaging visual animations, your digital assistant is ready to support you anytime you need it. Just say “OK Webex, what can you do?” to get started.

Expanding the Webex Assistant experience

Don’t have a Webex Rooms device? No problem. Webex Assistant is also available in Webex Meetings. With Webex Assistant for Webex Meetings, you and your team will benefit from higher levels of productivity and engagement in every meeting.

Young man smile through the desktop using the Webex Assistant experience

Featuring live transcription, automatic note-taking, voice-activated action items and more, Webex Assistant for Meetings makes the best team collaboration experience even better by allowing you to easily capture every detail during the meeting, so you can keep work moving forward after the meeting.

Learn more

Webex Assistant for Rooms is available now on compatible Webex Rooms devices. Check out the Webex Assistant adoption toolkit to get started.

To be among the first to experience the latest in video conferencing technology with Webex Assistant for Meetings, sign up for your free Webex Meetings account today.

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Test Drive the Cisco Webex Assistant for Free— Bring Voice Intelligence to Your Meetings

Working at the intersection of design, function and technology: Salamander Designs and Cisco Webex Rooms

The Rise of Webex Rooms

Secure, First-Party Recording Transcripts in Webex Meetings

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expanding business with video conferencing
How do I expand my small-scale business without capital?

Many small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) don’t survive for more than a few years. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 30% of them fail to make it through their second full year in operation. The causes of failure are diverse and include everything from subpar software and IT infrastructure to basic lack of capital. This article will focus primarily on the latter.

The challenges of not having enough capital to run your SMB

Simply starting a company can require over $10,000. In many instances, SMBs turn to banks for loans to help get through the early stages of business formation. Even with seemingly adequate funding, though, SMBs can still face numerous headwinds right away. 

These range from the predictable (needing to procure sufficient inventory) to the more volatile (having to spend more on accounting services/software due to one-off changes in the tax code). 

Added to the other costs that SMBs must bear on basics like insurance and office space, it’s no wonder many don’t make it past year two. But it’s possible to make an SMB budget more sustainable by implementing video conferencing software. 

How video conferencing tools help with budget crunches

Video conferencing solutions can bring meeting participants together without requiring any pricey travel. Plus, web meetings enable more flexible, less capital-intensive remote working arrangements. 

As a whole, video conferencing supports better, more cost-effective collaboration. More than simply helping an SMB optimize its budget, video meetings can also support expansion by connecting employees, recruits, and customers across many locations, in high-definition.

Here are some of the more specific ways in which video conferences fuel SMB success, even on a shoestring budget:

1. Hold productive meetings, no office required

Office space is expensive. The associated costs have spurred organizations across the U.S. to seek smaller workspaces and to take advantage of co-working and hotdesking environments. For example, real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield has charted growing densification of office space throughout the 2010s.

With video conferencing tools, SMB employees can make the most of even a small office or conference room that would be too cramped for a comfortable in-person meeting:

  • Anyone can be invited to the video meeting, whether it’s meant to be a small linkup between a specific team or an all-hands gathering.
  • It’s easy to join. Meeting participants only need to click a button in the solution when it’s time for the event to start.
  • The web meeting can be recorded for later distribution and viewing, so that no one misses out on what was covered.

Video conferencing software empowers teams to lead engaging and useful meetings without being constrained by physical space. That makes SMB expansion more feasible, since huge office spaces aren’t needed when setting up shop in new locales or trying to reach more customers.

2. Hire the right people from multiple locations

Many job searches begin by looking only for nearby candidates who don’t want/need to relocate. This makes sense in some respect, because moving is disruptive and often expensive, plus the position specs might not permit remote work.

But implementing a video conferencing platform allows for more flexibility in hiring. Say your SMB is looking to incorporate in an additional state and bring some employees on board there. Video conferencing would help in multiple ways:

  • A crystal-clear video feed could be set up for the interview. The candidate and interviewer would get more insight into each other’s reactions, including body language.
  • If hired, the candidate could then use video for their own work, perhaps as part of a remote working arrangement. They could join web conferences, view content through screen sharing, and collaborate with colleagues from anywhere.
  • Video conferencing software could also be useful for specific external-facing tasks such as conducting in-depth sales demos. A video conferencing solution is a powerful asset for sales personnel, who can use its built-in screen sharing capabilities to walk prospects through a product or service.

3. Reach audiences on any device or in any location

One of the central challenges for any SMB is building a reliable base of customers. How an organization pursues that goal will vary based on its industry, size, and personnel, but video conferencing will often be a reliable supporting tool along way.

Webinars show how a video conferencing system can expand an SMB’s reach without breaking the bank. A majority of B2B buyers have used webinars to support their purchasing decisions, according to the 2017 Content Preferences Survey Report.

Within a video conferencing solution, video feeds can be configured to show, say, a panel of subject matter experts discussing a relevant issue for buyers. But a video conference platform can go even further and enable deep interactivity between presenters and the audience, thanks to features like polling. A solution can also help manage registrations and any follow-up questions.

Audiences can participate in these events from any device. Webex supports phones, tablets, PCs, Macs, and standards-based video conferencing systems. 

 To learn more about how Webex can help your SMB grow more efficiently and stay within its budget, get started with a free plan today.

 

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collaboration devices in the office
4 ways IT leaders can lead the charge to create the next-generation workplace

As I travel around the world, I continue hear a lot of buzz around the term “workplace transformation.” Every company seems to have a project (or a few projects) underway, whether it be as significant as the building of a new head office or as minor as remodeling an existing branch location. Each workplace transformation initiative, no matter how large or small, successful or not, has an impact on the employees that work in that space. Winston Churchill once said, “we shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us,” and that sentiment is particularly true for work environments. The workplace is the glue that binds organizations, teams and employees together. The “built” environment is the physical embodiment of a company’s brand, culture, and values, so getting it right is critical. If that isn’t enough pressure, in today’s hyper-competitive battle for top talent, a modern, open, and collaborative workplace is an important tool for attracting and retaining the best of the best. For a potential new hire, the workplace is an expression of “who we are” and “what we stand for.” Good luck trying to hire someone from a top university if you parade them through a cubicle-based workplace built in the 1980s!

But creating a workplace is more than filling a building with attractive furniture, cool tech, and a bunch of modern amenities. Those are, as they say, table stakes. Creating an environment that allows people to work more efficiently and effectively…well, that’s a bit more challenging. To address that problem you need to put employees, and the work they do, at the center of the equation, and then carefully balance space design, technology, and workplace policies around them. If this sounds as hard as solving a Rubik’s Cube, you’re wrong….it’s actually harder. But, with every great challenge comes great opportunity. Companies that solve this puzzle and deliver on the promise of the next generation workplace position themselves for breakthrough levels of productivity, employee engagement, and growth.

So, what’s driving this change? Traditional, cubicle-based workplaces have become obsolete and are a thing of thing of the past. Shifting employee demographics, the demand for flexibility and the changing nature of work are challenging the assumptions that have driven workplace design for a generation.  The days where workplaces were organized around process-oriented work are over. Today’s workplaces are designed for impromptu collaboration, rapid innovation, and complex problem solving. Technology has been a big catalyst of this change, allowing companies to automate and streamline that old work, and will be an even bigger part of the workplace moving forward. Pervasive and secure wireless connectivity will allow employees to move un-tethered throughout the workplace. As people move from space to space, location data from that same wireless technology, combined with wayfinding applications, will help them navigate the work environment and locate their colleagues. Video devices, installed in every collaboration space, will not only allow employees to connect with their remote colleagues, but will also report on the availability and utilization of those spaces. Collaboration tools, such as messaging, calling, web and video conferencing, will connect the increasingly dispersed workforce and make distance disappear. Finally, cognitive capabilities, ie. the application of intelligence and context, will be embedded throughout the entire collaboration experience, reducing friction, enriching interactions between employees and allowing organizations to better optimize their workplace assets.

But ITs role in creating the next generation workplace needs to be far greater than simply deploying technology, IT must have a seat at the table throughout the entire transformation process. There are four areas where IT can lead:

  1. Re-Imagining – The pace of new technology introduction can be overwhelming, IT leaders plays a crucial role in helping their Corporate Real Estate and HR peers gain a better understanding which technology solutions are right for their next-gen workplace, helping them determine the business impact of those solutions, and recommending how and when they should be deployed. Additionally, by leveraging their relationships with their strategic solutions providers, industry analysts, and consultants, IT leaders can provide valuable insights on where technology is heading, minimizing the disruption of future technology deployments.
  2. Assessing – Before embarking on any workplace redesign effort it is essential that you have a solid understanding of how your employees are using their current work environment. WiFi technology, security applications, collaboration devices and tools, as well as other building technology being used in the work environment offers a wealth of data that can be used to help paint a picture of how often employees are coming to the office, what parts of the office they are using most, who they are working with and how they are working. These insights will help Corporate Real Estate and HR make more informed, data driven design decisions, which will lead to a more efficient and effective future work environment.
  3. Modernizing – Creating the next-generation workplace is more than building out physical space, it’s about creating new workplace experiences.  With that, IT can take the lead as “workplace experience designers.” Whether it’s finding the best place to work, locating a colleague, using a collaboration space for an impromptu meeting with your project team or having a guest visit for the day, IT has the opportunity to use their consultative and design skills to re-engineer each of these experiences.
  4. Promoting – Change management and adoption is a critical element of every workplace transformation project. In addition to the introduction of new technologies and the migration towards more open, collaborative physical environments, changes to workplace policies, processes and procedures also typically occur. With all this going on, significant effort must be placed to ensure employees remain informed and educated during the transition to the new work environment. A comprehensive internal marketing and communication program is an essential element of every adoption effort, and technology solutions such as digital signage, webinars and webcasting and video on demand play an important rolein ensuring employees successfully move to the new work environment.

workplace transformation

The time is now for IT leaders to engage their Corporate Real Estate and Human Resource colleagues in a serious discussion on the future workplace. If you are looking for help please click here for more information on Cisco’s workplace transformation journey, or don’t hesitate to reach out to your Cisco account team.  They are excited to help you get started.

Check out Project Workplace to see how you can outfit your space to fit your needs

Visit us at webex.com/video-conference-equipment.

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partners at Cisco Live
Know before you go: The Webex ecosystem at Cisco Live 2019

Cisco Live US is upon us and we couldn’t be more thrilled to be in San Diego next week! This is the perfect opportunity for our Cisco Collaboration customers and partners to have first hand conversations and demonstrations from our innovative integration partners in the World of Solutions. So I thought it would be useful to highlight a few of our prominent Webex Ecosystem partners so you can know what to expect before you arrive.

You’ll see that these companies add value to the entire Webex portfolio whether it is Meetings, Teams or Devices. Plus several of the vendors have cross portfolio/architecture value whether that be to our Unified Communications, IP Phones, Jabber or even Meraki offerings. Another common trait you’ll see is that several of these solutions are available on the Cisco Global Price List. Plus, a few of them even offer you a way to schedule time with their teams in advance online like Appspace and Vyopta!

Directly next to the Webexperience Zone where the Cisco team will be showcasing all of our awesome products and latest features, you’ll find our Collaboration Partner Village where many of these partners can be found. Here’s a sneak peek of what that area will look like and one piece of advice- definitely do not miss out on seeing Oblong’s unique footprint and demo at the center of the Village.

In the village we will have a full lineup of speakers throughout the week in our theater. Make sure to keep an eye on all of the presentations scheduled and attend any that you feel may be able to help you get the most out of your Webex environment. Looking forward to seeing you all there!

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Conferencing devices
New release of Webex RoomOS: The power of Webex Meetings & Conference Devices

I’m Juan Gallardo, Product Manager for Room OS, the software that runs on our Cisco Webex Collaboration Devices. With this new blog series, I will be sharing all our exciting new features with you, and opening a communication channel with our users. I hope you enjoy it and provide as much feedback as possible.

The Webex Meetings experience becomes even better when combined with Webex devices. Joining a Webex meeting from a Webex device gives you the best video and audio quality you can experience on the market.  In the March 2019 release, we have therefore focused on unleashing the power of the platform, giving you more flexibility when meetings and apps come together as one Webex.

Whiteboarding

The Webex Board is a great all-in-one collaboration tool. You can make video calls, share content wirelessly, express your ideas on a blank whiteboard canvas, and annotate on top of your shared content. We are now making it possible for you to share your creative ideas with everyone in the meeting. In this release, anyone using Webex Meetings can view whiteboarding content from a Webex Board. So, whether you join from a Webex device, a 3rdparty device, a laptop or a mobile phone, you’ll be able to see the shared content.

Content Sharing

Users shouldn’t need to know if the conference device in the meeting room is registered to the Cloud, or on-premises in order to know which client they should use to share. We are now enabling the ability to share wirelessly out of the call to any device through Webex Teams and Webex Meetings apps– regardless of where they are registered.

Just enter the room, open your laptop, launch your preferred client, and start sharing in your local meeting. Easy, right?

Wireless sharing of video with audio is also now supported on cloud systems, so Webex Teams users connected to a cloud-registered Webex device can share videos, animations, and any dynamic video and audio content to remote sites.

Webex Events Support

Webex Events lets you easily host events and webinars for several thousand attendees at the same time, and what better than combining this experience with powerful Webex devices? Imagine using Cisco’s speaker tracking technology or using some advanced configuration in a customized meeting room while speaking in a Webex Event. That is what we are making available on this release. Speakers and panelists can log into the Webex Event using a Cisco Webex device and enjoy any of these wonderful experiences created by the hardware and software combination that only Cisco provides in this area.

Webex events support-webinar

Cognitive Collaboration

Artificial intelligence is quickly changing our lives and the way we work.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning removes mundane tasks, increases meeting efficiency and builds more meaningful relationships. Webex Assistant is one of the first iterations of what we can do when we pair AI and Webex devices. Using this new feature, users can control room devices by simply using their voice. Just say “Ok Webex” and the system wakes up and waits for your command. Users can then join scheduled meetings, call someone in the directory, join personal rooms, or even adjust some device controls like volume! And this is just the beginning of many ideas we are cooking in our R&D department.

Cognitive collaboration in action

Device Analytics

You may have heard about what we are doing with analytics and our conference devices. Our friends on the Webex Teams App side had a great blog post around this a few weeks back. You may want to go and check what they are doing there.

Providing information on how Webex devices are been used is something that our friends in the IT department have been asking for a long time. This information can be used to take intelligent decisions around adding, removing, or changing devices in different rooms based on some actual data. The information is available through Cisco’s Control Hub, where you can find interactive charts that allow you to filter on a specific device type, utilization, etc., everything to provide admins a better perspective of what’s happening in their meeting rooms.

Remember, RoomOS is getting updated quite often, and we are excited about creating these new experiences for you. We will do our best to keep you up-to-date with what’s new so you can enjoy all the fantastic new features we want to create and make your meeting each day better! I would love to hear your feedback below.

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Video conferencing in the classroom
Howe Public Schools uses video conferencing to create more opportunities for its students

Dr. Lance Ford and his wife, Carol Ann, live in the quaint town of Howe, OK, home to a dozen streets, 800 people, and zero stoplights. But what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in innovation, especially at Howe Public Schools.

Dr. and Mrs. Ford first met and fell in love while teaching together. Their shared passion for education and desire to walk alongside and push their students to their highest potential bonded them then and continues to bond them today. Now married for 26 years, Lance’s office and Carol Ann’s classroom share a door at Howe Schools. They even teach a music class together. But teaching at Howe is not Lance’s only job… he also works full time as a Cisco employee.

His journey to Cisco came from presenting on technologies in classrooms to writing a curriculum that trained teachers—the actual users of the technology—how to fully utilize the resources they had at their fingertips. In a single day, he can be on the phone with a school in Switzerland educating on the possibilities of collaboration technology, on a Webex Board, video conferencing with teachers in Hawaii, training them on how to use the technology, and between, walk into the room next door and use the technology to teach music theory to his students. Over the past five years, he has helped bring Cisco collaboration technology into the classrooms in Howe.

Bringing video conferencing into the classroom

 Howe Co schools serve 650 students and in the past five years, have invested in Cisco technology, including Cisco Webex Meetings, Webex Teams, IP phones and Webex Boards. So, why have they done this? Ford states, “the goal is to give students opportunities to learn that would otherwise not be available to them.”

This looks like:

  • Video conferencing with subject matter experts who give new and exciting lessons to students
  • Working on collaborative projects, using Webex Teams to meet, discuss, and whiteboard out solutions together
  • Virtual field trips: Howe, OK connected with people at the Great Barrier Reef and Columbus Zoo (trips the students would never have been able to take due to distance)
  • Enrollment in college classes: High school students use Webex Meetings to video conference into classes at the local college (last year’s valedictorian graduated high school one class shy of an Associate’s degree).

It doesn’t stop there—they continue to look for creative ways to reach learners into the future. They hope to start using technology to offer professional learning opportunities as well.

Outside the classroom: Breaking communication barriers through team collaboration 

It’s not just the teachers and students using this technology. It’s in the hands of the building principals, counselors, security officers, and maintenance. Outside of the classroom, the technology is being fully utilized to enhance communication between everyone in the community. Buses have routers for GPS positioning and access to Teams. The school always knows where the bus is, who is on the bus, and can even notify parents when buses are getting close. In addition, security officers can send emergency notifications to administration, enhancing the safety at the school. Technology has the ability to change the culture of a school and the way it does business.

But regardless of the vertical, every person and company has a chance to teach and to learn. That’s essentially the core of collaboration.

How will you choose to teach and learn today?


Dr. Lance Ford will be joining our webinar on May 30th, discussing the rise of collaboration tools and how to augment them for parent-teacher conferences and office hours for students. The focus will be on how teachers and administrators can transparently open lines of communication between the school and parents/students through collaboration technology. AND use the technology as a conduit to identify and overcome challenges so students have the best opportunity to learn inside the education environment. You won’t want to miss it. Register here.

For more information about Howe Public Schools, visit: https://www.howeschools.org

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Remote meeting distractions – and how to deal

Did you know that 87% of remote works feel more connected  to their teams when they use video conferencing? And did you know that 100% of remote workers absolutely detest remote meeting distractions that don’t have to happen?

Ok. That last stat was not discovered in any recent journals or news stories – but we have no doubts that it’s true! All of the benefits that remote meetings offer team members – increased productivity, flexibility for those who are on the go and reduced traveling stresses – are lost if annoying remote meeting distractions derail what teams are trying to accomplish.

Thankfully, several WebEx tools that can help do away with remote meeting distractions. Check out our “top four” list (provided in no particular order – we love them all) and let us know your biggest remote meeting distraction pet peeves.

 

1. Pesky passcodes

 season 3 black and white episode 16 telephone 3x16 GIF

It’s very easy to become distracted during a meeting. And even more so when you’re running late and somehow can’t get into the meeting! Passcodes are often the culprit for this type of distraction.

WebEx’s “Call Me” feature eliminates this worry. With “Call Me,” meeting attendees simply click the “Join” meeting button and then the “Call Me” button. From there, it’s as simple as answering the phone when the WebEx meeting calls. No passcodes, no problem.

 

2. Background noise

What do a barking dog, rumbling lawn mower and a full-on marching band have in common? They’re all just a sample of distracting (and annoying) background noises that can disrupt your meeting when you’re working remotely. Unfortunately, you don’t always have control over what passes by your home office window.

 

Rather than issue the standard, “who’s not on mute?” question, WebEx users with the WebEx noise cancellation feature don’t have to stress. When WebEx detects background noises that could hinder your meeting, a friendly pop-up reminder to mute your phone will briefly appear.

 

3. Connecting on-the-go

Working At A Cafe GIF - Eow Bored Cafe GIFs

 The beauty in working remotely is you can actually get things done and stay connected on-the- go your favorite place – like your local coffee shop instead of fluorescent-lit cubicle. But sometimes you don’t always have your laptop and a strong Wi-Fi connection handy when it’s time to connect to a meeting. Luckily, no matter which device you or other team members use to connect, WebEx’s mobile features make remote meeting a breeze.

From a phone, a tablet – even an Apple Watch – WebEx’s mobile app system provides “on the move’ users the freedom to host and attend meetings. And with the addition of Cisco Spark, remote meetings are never delayed because anyone can join no matter which standards-based video conferencing device they use.

 

4. Meeting crashers

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot WebEx can do if the smallest and cutest distractions are determined to join your meeting. Our advice? Be quick on your feet!

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