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Announcing the winners of Collaboration hackathon

Transforming ideas into reality

The workplace is constantly evolving. The way we work is forever changing and advancements in technology are moving more rapidly than ever before. Innovation is key, but where does it come from and more importantly, how do we develop it into a reality?

At some point we have all had that great idea, that one lightbulb thought that could change how we work, make a process faster or save ourselves some time. The problem is that we don’t always have the resources, background or skillset to make it happen, often leading to missed opportunities. But not at Cisco. This is where innovation is born.

Building on the success of our 2-day Hackathon event hosted in San Jose in July 2019, Cisco SVP Javed Khan held our first-ever virtual Collaboration Hackathon series in late 2020 to early 2021. The series featured one hackathon for our internal colleagues and one for external innovators – organised by Product Manager Ivy Pham. Individuals and teams were welcome to participate regardless of technical knowledge or experience. The only criteria to take part: a passion to innovate and a desire to make a change.

“During these challenging pandemic times, seamless and secure virtual experiences are more important than ever. This virtual hackathon is a fun way our community can come together to develop solutions that will make virtual communication and collaboration ‘better than being there’.”

Javed Khan

SVP/GM, Collaboration 

Reimagining what is possible with our internal hackathon

The internal hackathon was open to all Cisco employees, harnessing the strength of our global workforce to provide diverse perspectives on the future of our industry. As a result, we had over 820 participants with nearly 500 submissions!

Innovation comes in all shapes and sizes. All ideas were welcome at the hackathon, but to help guide our hackers we created 3 key themes – Experience, Next Generation and Cross Architecture.

Experience – Focusing on our end users’ and customers’ experiences. Keeping this open to interpretation, participants could focus on day-to-day activities, operations and even analytics. Basically, keeping our customers top of mind and developing solutions to ensure they have the best experience possible.

Next Generation – The possibilities are endless when it comes to advancements in technology. Artificial intelligence and machine learning have changed how we all work, but we have only begun to scratch the surface. Here participants had the opportunity to create solutions that enable our users to work smarter, not harder.

Cross Architecture – The power of Cisco is the strength of our vast portfolio. Collaboration is just one aspect of this. Imagining innovative and creative concepts to integrate with our portfolio is game changing. This could include security, data, mobility and more.

Here are some of the solutions from the hackathon that blew us away:

Checklister

Webex is a great tool for collaboration via messages. To-do list applications are great tools for tracking ongoing tasks. Checklister would automatically suggest to-do list items to the user and allow editing before storing the message as an action item. The to-do list store could be native to Webex or third-party integrations.

Checklister

Webex Haiku

While business’s adoption of video calling tools for customer service is on the rise, not all people are avid computer users. This translates into frustration when joining Webex meetings. Cisco Webex Haiku is an online drag-and-drop editor for creating your own Webex client portal, as simple and powerful as your business needs it.

See the full list of winners below:

Hackathon Prizes

Global innovation at our external hackathon

We know that great ideas come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes a totally fresh perspective can reimagine how we work and the tools we use. With this in mind, we opened the external hackathon globally to people over the age of 18. Similar to our internal hackathon, we encouraged people to participate regardless of technical knowledge or experience. Everyone with an interest in innovation was welcome. As a result, we were delighted to see an enormous interest in university students signing up to take part (over 1100) – after all, they are the future of our industry.

To help guide our external participants we also provided two optional themes. The first was Cisco Webex and Collaboration with a key focus on the end user experience. The second was social good – creating new solutions that have a positive impact on people, society or the planet. In total we had nearly 250 teams participate and a whopping 60 winners. Below are a few highlights and the full winners list:

Sanitary Pad Dispensing Machine

The idea is an affordable and easy to operate sanitary pad dispensing machine. The project has been designed with the motive of providing 24/7 availability of sanitary pads to women, especially in rural regions where there is a lot of social stigma attached to this particular issue. One of the main objectives of this project was to make the topic of menstruation more mainstream so that parents could talk to their daughters more freely, friends could support each other, and women would not feel ashamed of something that is natural to them and a part of their life.

Webex Knowledge Extractor

This is a tool that integrates with Webex and allows questions and answers to be displayed and indexed for search based on threaded messaging. The dashboard interface will allow the end user to login via OAuth and select a room to be analyzed for Questions which have been answered by experts, then export to Excel or import into external systems for knowledge base articles.

Joey Notifications

Never miss a beat with Joey Notifications in Webex! Joey is the perfect solution to make working from home more people centric. Set reminders to stretch and take care of your health throughout the day. Joey is designed to engage you with little tips such as yoga videos or recipes and uses AI image detection to evaluate your health. Joey Notifications is the perfectly tailored plugin for you and your team!

1st prize

2nd prize3rd prize

These are just a few examples of the hundreds of innovative and creative ideas submitted during the hackathon series. Some of these amazing ideas will be put forward to our collaboration group and considered for further development.

Hackathons are just one of the many events we hold each year to spark innovation within our organization.

Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming events and one day your idea could become part of our collaboration offering!

Resources

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Cisco Webex Room Dual
Just say no to conference calls, and yes to collaborative meetings

I’ve been part of corporate America my entire career and have spent the last six years working from a home office. As part of the remote-worker culture, we’re on the phone – a lot. If conference calls are your way of life, you would probably agree not much has changed in four years since YouTube stars Tripp and Tyler created this video to make fun “every conference call, ever.”

As of this past December everything I knew about collaborating with my team has changed. I no longer host conference calls. That’s right. No more random beeping, no more wondering who just joined, no more guessing where to mute barking dogs, no more multi-tasking, no more, “I’m sorry can you repeat that because I wasn’t listening.”

Conference calling is so 2018

I’m new to the Webex marketing team, but I am not “new” to Webex. My previous employers had both been Webex customers. We used the typical VoIP Phones and dialed in with your typical 1-800 number, and used the typical conference codes to start each call. We downloaded the plug-ins and launched Webex Meetings in case we needed to share content – but that was it. I honestly had no idea what I was missing out on.

Since I became part of the Cisco Webex Marketing team, I have not joined one single conference call. We join meetings – and they feel like actual meetings. Crazy, right? We use Webex Meetings, Webex Teams, and Webex Devices every single day to collaborate, brainstorm, and whiteboard.

A whole new world of Collaboration

I wasn’t sure how I would like being on camera every day, but I love the interaction and there’s no turning back. You can feel the difference. You can tell when people have something to say and you can see that people are engaged. In one of my first meetings, I was listening to how Webex Meetings has new integrations for the Education space. Lance Ford was heading up the call. The guy was at his desk, then standing, then pointing at a screen, then moving things around and presenting. All the while the camera was following him, zooming in and tracking his audio. It felt like I was watching the local newscast!

Watch this just to see the cameras zooming and moving… what?!

Then, I visited the San Jose Cisco campus. When you enter any conference room the screen welcomes you and offers to connect and start your meeting… magic! I was immediately connected with zero effort. The room also had a stylus on the table with my name on a screen … begging me to draw something before the meeting started. (Disclaimer: Webex devices don’t beg you to draw things.) Without knowing anything about the device, I could draw, erase, and send a digital copy to my Webex Teams space. More magic.

There were no ancient calling devices with wired microphones that only pick up whatever sounds are coming off the table top. The microphones are hung from the ceiling with built-in technology that knows when to mute and when to listen in.

To top it all off, once the meeting is over, we keep the conversation going in the Webex Teams platform. I am getting added to spaces and am able to catch up without ever asking a question. I can mention people, I can send requests to my team and flag content to come back to.

Maybe I’m easily impressed, but I was one of tens of thousands of folks at my past employers who weren’t using the Cisco Webex suite of collaboration products to their full potential. I had been missing out. I’m wondering how many other end users could tap in to the newest features? Do you even know you have access to them?

Get reacquainted with Webex

If you’re like I was, and are a Webex customer but are still using the platform as a conference line – please do yourself a favor and check out what you’ve been missing. Ask your Webex Administrator to upgrade you to the latest version with entirely new user interface. You won’t have to memorize any conference ID numbers – you push the big green button. Your participants will not have to download anything – ever. Background noises are automatically detected. Content sharing is faster. Annotations are easier. Video streaming is clearer.

There is so much more, you have to see for yourself. https://collaborationhelp.cisco.com/article/en-us/nvby0ee

Learn more about Webex Video Conferencing and try it for free here https://www.webex.com/video-conferencing.html

 

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