Innovations from Webex Experts: How Webex Aha! came to be
The Webex Ambassadors Program is a global community of Webex loyalists who receive custom Webex learning paths to help further their careers, earn rewards, and influence the future of collaboration. Our Webex Experts are a top-tier group of members who offer thought leadership and act as counsel to our product and customer adoption teams. In this series, we’ll explore their contributions to the Webex ecosystem and hopefully inspire you to do more than you ever imagined possible with Webex.
The story of Webex Aha
Let’s look back a few years to 2017. We attended regular meetings with the Webex product teams where any of us could give feedback in live sessions and in Webex spaces about new opportunities to improve our products. We would share perspectives, suggest and build integrations and bots, and offer ideas for new features. Teams would take notes, try to prioritize ideas, and then attempt to circle back once they committed to or abandoned an idea. Sometimes, we’d get an update that an idea had been slated as a project, but most of the time, there wasn’t a standard way to communicate whether our ideas were falling into a black hole or actually helping.
This process simply wasn’t working. With so many voices in such an informal setting, it was hard to articulate and quantify the impact and urgency of a request. We wanted to create a systematic way to provide product feedback while helping our teams prioritize requests. This is where we — the Webex Experts — stepped up.
Webex gave us complete autonomy to scope the problem, come up with a viable solution, and ultimately, implement the solution. Once we got approval from Josh Reola, our Webex Ambassador sponsor, and product management executives like Damien McCoy, we explored the group’s needs and the needs of the products teams we were hoping to serve.
We set out to solve a challenge, but we also wanted to provide a mechanism for the Webex product teams to quantify the importance of a specific feature request and streamline the decision-making process. The end goal? Speed up how long it took to get from idea to implementation to innovation. We wanted to drive Webex innovation at the speed of light.
Finding the best solution to a big problem
The first step was to research platforms that would address our numerous needs. After evaluating a few platforms, we settled on Aha! Roadmap Software. We then designed and built the Webex Idea Portal on the platform, taking into consideration the needs of both the product teams and the feedback provider. This allowed us to determine the proper fields, workflow, and process to submit and receive feedback in an automated manner. We also wanted to build a system component that enabled a crowdsourced voting mechanism. This let users add more detail or use cases to give more color to the initial idea request.
After implementation, we used the Webex Idea Portal to provide feedback to the Webex product teams. We made a few tweaks along the way to modify and add fields based on our experience and the needs of the product teams. The portal housed all requests in a single place where we could prioritize ideas, follow up with submitters, gather more information, and where the product teams could easily gauge urgency. It greatly improved communication, which helped to quantify how long an idea would take to implement.
Because of this and the success Webex saw on the platform, they converted the portal to a corporate-wide tool that was rolled out to internal Webex sales teams and Cisco partners in March of 2018 (less than a year after it was built).
This portal has became a standard tool and was one of the most effective ways for all stakeholders to give input to the Webex teams. Partners, Webex Experts, and internal sales teams could all submit their ideas, vote on them, add customer names, submit additional details, and track their idea’s progress. Product teams were finally able to access this invaluable feedback in one place.
As Webex Experts, we have unique opportunities (like that with the Webex Idea Portal) to influence and impact the direction of Webex products. This project gave us all the opportunity to optimize a process that significantly improved a critical business process for Webex. We were all excited about the impact it had on Webex.
Damien McCoy’s take on the business impact
When the feedback portal idea was brought to our executive team, I was fascinated, but certainly not surprised. Our Webex Experts have always been problem solvers and transparent about how our products could better serve them. Because of their history of excellence, I was quick to endorse this product and couldn’t have been more impressed with how well they were able to execute a brilliant idea.
The Webex Ideal Portal that our Experts built on Aha! helped us uncover quite a few use cases we had never considered and gave us the unique opportunity to hear perspectives from varying industries. We were gaining an understanding of our customers’ needs, which has been invaluable.
Up until this year, we were gathering feedback in the portal from Experts, partners, and internal teams. But what about our customers? Their voices couldn’t be heard in the portal because they didn’t have access. So, when we launched the Webex Community in May of 2020, we opened the portal to a much broader audience. Now, anyone who uses Webex can utilize this portal to make their voices heard. This level of feedback would not have happened without the work the Webex Experts put in.
Our product teams can now listen to our customers, users, partners, and our Webex Ambassadors. They can respond to and prioritize feedback and ideas. Beyond this, the Webex Idea Portal has given us a way to interact, get all the necessary details, and build direct relationships with those who have generated and contributed to ideas. It allows for open-source ideas and the ability to prioritize, streamline, and speed up innovation.
Some of our very best ideas come directly from the Webex Community. We evangelize our Webex Ambassadors to crowdsource solutions to common problems and to share use cases and challenges. I cannot overstate the value our Webex Experts (like Chris, Matt, and Thomas) provide by co-creating solutions alongside us.
If you love finding solutions to problems and want to join an incredible group of talented Webex fanatics, enroll early in our Webex Ambassadors Program. Level up your knowledge. Your network. Your voice.
About the authors
Chris Capasso has been a Webex Expert since 2017. Find out more about his accomplishments, his experience with the Webex Ambassadors, or his areas of expertise in the Webex Ambassadors directory
Matt Spool has been a Webex Expert since 2017. Find out more about his accomplishments, his experience with the Webex Ambassadors, or his areas of expertise in the Webex Ambassadors directory.
Thomas Vidgar has been a Webex Expert since 2017. Find out more about his accomplishments, his experience with the Webex Ambassadors, or his areas of expertise in the Webex Ambassadors directory.
Damien McCoy: Damien joined Cisco in 2011 initially delivering market growth for the Cisco Jabber product line and was part of the early team building Webex Teams to support the shift to team collaboration in the cloud. He now leads our growth team as the Director of Product Growth at Webex, partnering with customers to deliver workplace and employee experience transformation strategies. When he’s not at his desk Damien enjoys the Atlantic Ocean and local wilderness with his local Sea Scout group.
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Oct 20, 2021 — Lorrissa Horton