Cisco is relaunching its Webex platform to add what it describes as features designed to make remote work more inclusive, personal and flexible. The new product, called Webex Suite, brings together a variety of remote work tools into a single product that Cisco said is “the first best-of-breed suite for hybrid work.”
According to Cisco’s own research, 98% of meetings in the near future will include at least one remote participant. “The way organizations worked pre-pandemic and during the pandemic will be starkly different in this next wave of work – where good enough is simply not enough,” Cisco said in a press release, referring to existing virtual collaboration software.
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Webex Suite includes calling, messaging, virtual meetings and virtual event management along with 800 new features that were added to Webex since September 2020. In addition, Cisco’s acquisition of audience engagement software Slido and hybrid event management software Socio will add their features to Webex Suite.
In particular, Slido will bring features to make meetings more interactive to Webex Suite, such as live polling, quizzes, question and answer sessions and additional audience engagement features designed to make meetings more inclusive and effective.
Socio, which is still in the process of being acquired by Cisco, will be the backbone of Webex Suite’s hybrid event management. Cisco describes Socio as being an end-to-end event management platform that “will provide event organizers with everything they need to successfully host an in-person, virtual or hybrid event.”
Cisco has added several of its own innovations to Webex Suite as well. People Focus, which Cisco announced earlier this year, is being added to Webex Suite sometime in 2021. People Focus uses machine learning to keep meeting participants spread out across a room in frame, “allowing remote participants to feel more connected and everyone in the meeting to benefit from seeing body language, facial expressions and more.”
A new audio feature Cisco calls My Voice Only is being added to Webex Suite in August 2021. This noise removal feature is designed to optimize speech in remote and shared workspaces to eliminate background noises, including speech from other people in the same space.
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A number of new security and privacy features are coming to Webex Suite. These include improved end-to-end encryption, end-to-end verified identity and real-time data loss prevention that automatically blocks and removes confidential information from Webex Suite Messaging.
Webex Suite is available now, and while Cisco hasn’t given specific prices it does describe it as “priced 40% lower than a-la-carte.” Cisco is also releasing new Webex Desk hardware with voice controls and extensions, touch interaction and additional Webex Suite integrations, which will be available in late June 2021 at a standard price of $2,495.