|Cisco Announces Variety of Innovations to Cisco WebEx Social
IT News Online Staff
Cisco has announced a variety of innovations to Cisco WebEx Social (formerly known as Cisco Quad) that will make it possible for people to participate in social collaboration, regardless of where they are working, by bringing social capabilities to the devices and applications that workers use most often.
The innovations build upon existing offerings that help employees share knowledge, find experts and information, and form effective virtual work teams. With this release of WebEx Social, Cisco is introducing the following capabilities:
- Microsoft Office Integration: Cisco announced integration with WebEx Social and Microsoft Office that empower workers using Word, PowerPoint or Excel to jointly edit and post updated documents, presentations and spreadsheets back to WebEx Social.
- Email: Email no longer has to be a siloed application. With enhanced email integration, workers can stay in email clients such as Microsoft Outlook while also creating and posting updates to WebEx Social.
- Mobility: Cisco introduced enhancements to the WebEx Social iPhone and iPad client that give workers the ability to transition from social networking to real-time IM, Web conferencing, and voice calls directly from their mobile application.
- Video: With new browser-based video calling, people can seamlessly escalate to a high-definition (HD) video conferencing session, without going to a separate application. These sessions are compatible with a wide variety of video endpoints, including Cisco TelePresence, IP video phones, mobile and soft clients.
- Flexible deployment models: With this release, customers will have a choice of deployment models. WebEx Social is available as an on-premise (WebEx Social Server) offering, partner-hosted (through Logicalis, ACS and Alphawest) and a Cisco-hosted cloud-based solution.
With this announcement Cisco said it is extending WebEx cloud services to not only encompass what was formerly known as Quad, but also Cisco Callway, its hosted TelePresence solutions. The company is aligning its Quad and Callway brands with WebEx where they join a leading portfolio of Web conferencing and instant messaging solutions. By bringing a comprehensive solution to the cloud, Cisco provides users and IT with easy access to their social collaboration tools of choice from any device. The expanded WebEx family of cloud collaboration services will use the global data center footprint and operational excellence of the WebEx cloud to deliver highly available, real-time cloud services that meets the needs of the most demanding organizations. The WebEx cloud is the world's second-largest public cloud for business collaboration applications.
Additional Announcement Details:
- Extending social to where people work: WebEx Social helps broaden participation by enabling employees working on mobile devices, email and personal productivity applications to easily engage in social collaboration with their colleagues. In addition, the new WebEx Social software developer kit (SDK) allows developers to extend core WebEx Social capabilities, such as Activity Streams, Watch List, and Open Search, to critical business applications.
- Integrated real-time communications and video: WebEx Social also unifies social and real-time collaboration solutions - like video, voice, instant messaging (IM), presence and Web conferencing - into a single, integrated user experience. This not only gives users immediate access to the right tools at the right time, but can drive higher and faster adoption of new collaborative ways of working. WebEx Social offers new compelling real-time video experiences and deeper integration with WebEx conferencing.
-- HD Video Calling: While accessing WebEx Social via a Web browser, people can initiate voice and HD video calls without going to a separate application.
-- WebEx Integrated Calendar: WebEx Social includes an update for unified calendaring and an integrated WebEx experience. Users can view, join and start meetings directly from the WebEx Social personal calendar.
- Familiar, Personalized User Experience:
-- New Web and Mobile Interfaces: Both the Cisco WebEx Social Web interface and the mobile client feature new, highly intuitive user experiences that make it simple for anyone to get started. On the Web interface, employees can easily personalize their experience by adding approved applications and choosing layouts. Organizations can also custom brand the WebEx Social Web and mobile interfaces to align with their corporate branding. This simple and intuitive user experience can also help promote greater end user adoption.
-- Simple and Powerful Expert Q&A: In addition to helping employees locate experts and information, WebEx Social now helps problem-solving by finding answers to specific questions. New Expert Q&A crowdsources answers by intelligently routing questions to identified experts within an organization.
-- Availability: WebEx Social Server is targeted for availability worldwide in July while the cloud-based solution is targeted for availability in North America in July.
Cisco also announced new capabilities with Cisco WebEx Telepresence, one of the Cisco WebEx cloud services. Cisco WebEx Telepresence, formerly known as Cisco Callway, is managed by Cisco and sold through Cisco Authorized Partners. Customers can purchase or lease, select multipurpose and personal endpoints and connect those endpoints to a hosted service. This service reduces the complexity and costs with Telepresence, benefits that are appealing to small businesses.
New features include:
- The ability to host a video call with up to nine users on the WebEx Telepresence network. Supports high-quality audio and video (up to 1080p HD video resolution), so employees can meet in-person with their colleagues, suppliers/partners, and customers.
- Company-designated administrators can now centrally manage user subscriptions and contact lists anytime on a new online customer portal.
- Support for Cisco TelePresence MX300 and Cisco TelePresence SX20.
- Streamlined subscription tiers and a new annual pre-pay option making ordering and bill pay easier for Cisco partners and customers.
Murali Sitaram, vice president and general manager, Cloud Collaboration Technology Group, Cisco, said, "More than ever, companies are rethinking the way they have traditionally done business to take a more social approach. With today's announcements, Cisco is marrying the best of consumer social network features with a complete set of integrated collaboration cloud services for a seamless and integrated user experience. This new experience gives customers the option to securely participate in social business from the device and application of their choice."
"Designed for the enterprise, Cisco WebEx Social has enabled us to introduce social technologies in a highly secure, managed way not possible with consumer collaboration services. The collaborative communities in Cisco WebEx Social let us warehouse our intellectual capital and encourage lawyers to share their know-how with colleagues. Doing things more efficiently provides better value for our clients," said Peter Westerveld, CIO, Minter Ellison.
"WebEx Social enables us to further expand our business model and the breadth of advanced services we offer clients looking for social business solutions. Improved customization capabilities benefit our clients and enable us as a partner to better integrate WebEx Social within our ImmersiV Collaboration Portfolio offering," said Simon Daykin, CTO, Logicalis.
"Cisco WebEx Social aligns very well with Persistent System's corporate culture. It provides a platform for people to express themselves and strengthen their sense of connection to the company. At the same time, it helps management seek out the wisdom of the crowds. For example we have integrated microblogging into our daily jobs. Having salespeople microblog about the week's activities in advance of weekly sales meetings reduced meeting time from 90 minutes to 15-20 minutes, an 80% savings. Multiply that time saving by 25 people on the call, and we've freed up 30 hours weekly for more interaction," said Ajay Deshpande, chief architect, Persistent Systems.
"As a Cisco channel partner, we are always looking for ways to accelerate customer adoption of collaboration technologies by working closely with users and showing the value that collaboration delivers as part of the way they conduct work. We believe Cisco WebEx Social is a leap forward that delivers a rich collaboration offering to our enterprise customers, and not only changes the way users collaborate, but helps drive adoption by making it easier for users to participate in social collaboration," said Andy Dignan, Senior Manager, Unified Communications, CDW.
"Coraid continues to increase the speed and quality of our business in all functional areas across our fast growing company. Cisco WebEx Telepresence helps us create a higher-caliber communication and collaboration culture with a distinct advantage in our daily operations and execution. Being able to connect over telepresence enables us to move faster and make better decisions with more inputs across our company. With WebEx Telepresence and WebEx Meetings, Coraid is able to bring our highly mobile and globally dispersed workforce together for better alignment, superior sales and customer management, and higher quality product development," said Doug Dooley, Vice President of Product Management, Coraid.