WebexOne Recap: All new Webex, Cisco Calling Plan, & More

Technology is an ever-evolving field, and 2020 showed us that the way we rely on technology could change quickly.

WebexOne Cisco updates
The all new Webex includes updated features, including gesture recognition.

In less than a year, the workforce has gone from occasionally using video calls to relying on them on a weekly or even daily basis.

In early December, Cisco revealed some ways it will respond to customers’ new demands for technology.

Their biggest announcement was the all new Webex, but there are several other solutions they announced as well.

As a Cisco partner, The KR Group has already attended virtual conferences and demos on the new Webex platform, Cisco calling plans, Webex devices, etc.

These are the features we think will benefit our customers the most:

  1. All Webex functions in a single app
  2. Cisco calling plan
  3. Contact Center Express updates
  4. New Webex devices
  5. Security and privacy updates

Webex’s new features and the other solutions Cisco announced for 2021 are designed to enhance businesses’ everyday operations as they continue to use video collaboration.

All Webex functions in a single application

Webex, as we’ve known it for years, includes three applications: Calling, Meetings, and Teams. While the three worked together, you were still opening a different program and navigating a separate interface for each one.

As technology moves toward being simple and user-friendly, Webex has combined the three solutions in a single Webex app.

This means Webex users can send a message, schedule a meeting, and answer a call without switching applications. You won’t have to think if you’re using the right app because everything you need to do is in one place.

Additionally, Cisco Webex has rolled out new or updated features to improve the experience within Webex. These include:

  • Body language recognition allows integrated AI to recognize gestures.
  • Noise detection features allow Webex to detect if you’re talking while muted and unmute your microphone.
  • Real-time translations allow participants who speak different languages to turn on close captioning to translate into their native language.
  • Webex has scaled virtual events to have 25,000 attendees, and livestream events have a 100,000 viewer capacity.
  • Organizers can now designate break-out sessions, so attendees don’t have to hang up and call back into a break-out room.
  • Webex has created meeting templates to help organizers run meetings more efficiently. Notable features of this function are the ability to ensure all participants have a chance to speak and time restrictions.
  • Ethical walls allow administrators to prevent certain groups of users from scheduling meetings with other groups.

Cisco calling plans

A complaint all Cisco partners have dealt with for years is customers had to use a third-party provider for a calling plan.

This meant having a separate invoice and dashboard from the provider for something that felt like Cisco should have incorporated into the solution. Additionally, competitors like RingCentral and Microsoft did have call plans incorporated into their call solutions.

Cisco is solving the common problem and joining its competitors by offering Cisco calling plans.

Cisco calling plans are already available to customers in the U.S. Canadian users can expect to access these calling plans in early 2021.

At this time, Cisco’s goal is to have the new calling plan available to parts of Europe by mid-summer and Asia Pacific and Latin America before the end of 2021.

While the Cisco calling plan is a significant announcement on its own, there are additional calling features to look forward to, such as:

  • Interactive video
  • Interactive voice response
  • Video on hold
  • Integration to record calls

Webex Contact Center updates

Cisco’s announcement of new features and updates included Webex Contact Center. Specifically, Cisco updated this solution to be more customizable.

Each agent can set up their user interface so they can see all of their customer interactions. They can also add custom widgets for any extra information they need or want to view.

On the supervisor side, they can now customize contract flows without needing to call IT to write a script.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) also plays an important role in Webex Contact Center’s updated features. It will allow chatbots to get better at answering customer questions without engaging a human agent.

New devices

Integrated webcams have helped the workforce connect as we were forced to adapt to virtual meetings. However, they should be considered the baseline.

Cisco has offered a suite of video-enabled phones to empower virtual meetings. With the increased demand for virtual meetings, Cisco Webex is introducing a few additions to their videophone solutions:

1.   Webex Desk Camera

WebexOne Cisco updates, Webex Desk Camera
The new Webex Desk Camera

This camera is designed with both remote and in-office employees in mind.

Capable of 4K ultra-HD video, users of the Webex Desk Camera can enjoy features such as facial recognition and occupancy metrics, which are integrated into this device

Additionally, this device is powered by the same Webex platform as the rest of your collaboration suite, so it can easily manage updates.

2.   Webex Desk Hub

WebexOne Cisco updates, Webex Desk Hub
The new Webex Desk Hub

Many businesses are rethinking their office arrangements after having a remote workforce for much of 2020.

The Webex Desk Hub allows you to log into your Webex account and make video calls by simply placing your smartphone on the hub. (It also provides wireless charging for your smartphone.)

This is a convenient feature for businesses looking to optimize desk space and use hoteling features. You can also connect your laptop with a USB-C cable.

This device is expected to be available in summer of 2021.

3.   Webex Desk Pro

WebexOne Cisco updates, Webex Desk Pro
The new Webex Desk Pro

This device is similar to the Webex DX80 but with a simpler, cleaner look.

You can use this device to create an immersive experience for meeting participants. Additionally, it can be used as a primary or secondary monitor.

This device is expected to be available in summer of 2021.

4.   Webex wireless phones

These phones look and function like many smartphones, but they don’t have cell service.

The Webex wireless phones (860 and 840) will come in two different sizes: 5.2-inch and 4-inch.

They also have ruggedization features, such as water and dust resistance and gorilla glass touchscreens.

5.   Webex phone features

Along with the addition of the new hardware, Cisco also announced the new line of Webex video phones will have new features, such as:

  • Immersive presenter
  • Broadcast studio
  • Grid view
  • Virtual backgrounds

Cisco security and privacy updates

All of these solutions are designed to make the user experience simple and more enjoyable. However, that is no longer enough in technology.

Strong security features are vital to the success and trust of solutions. To address security concerns, Cisco continues to provide end-to-end encryption across solutions.

When it comes to data loss prevention, Cisco has added and even improved upon the capabilities.

For example, if an employee in medical records is having a conversation, the integrated AI can detect if the person on the other end of the call is not authorized to discuss a patient’s records.

Cisco Collaboration in 2021

At the beginning of 2020, it was a known fact in IT that most businesses only cared about dial tone and voicemail when it came to IP phones.

However, the pandemic drastically changed that. Now, customers need to have remote phone capabilities (such as softphones) and participate in virtual meetings.

With an all-encompassing Webex platform, integrated calling plans, new video phone devices, and security advances, Cisco appears to be focusing on creating solutions that will quickly become second nature. This suite of collaboration solutions is just the beginning of IT announcements we expect throughout the year. To stay up-to-date on new collaboration solutions, sign up for our monthly newsletter.

 

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