asynchronous video infused with AI, watermarking… and Microsoft

Event – During its annual Webex One 2022 event, Cisco announced the arrival of several features in its “bundle” of videoconferencing and collaboration solutions. Called WebEx Suite and launched in 2011, this bundled offer marketed “at a monthly price lower than Netflix” – according to Jeetu Patel, EVP and GM Security and Collaboration at Cisco – had been announced a little earlier, in June.

WebEx Suite is enriched with new features such as the whiteboard, and improvements to tools already such as real-time transcription and translation of exchanges, audio calls, instant messaging, webinars, WebEx Event (to organize events virtual), or “engagement” tools (such as surveys during a meeting).

Asynchronous video to AI

A brick particularly highlighted by Cisco in this “suite” is asynchronous video (Vidcast), that is to say the possibility of recording a video of a few minutes (tutorial, memos, etc.) and of broadcast it to a team. The interest is to be able to communicate with people with incompatible agendas. The second is the conciseness required by the exercise.

According to Jeetu Patel, asynchronous video has saved 47 million meeting hours since its release a year ago. “Every week, I use it to communicate with 12,000 of my employees,” he says.

Indicators allow you to follow how this video is used (how many people have seen it, when, etc.).

Vidcast is enriched with artificial intelligence-infused editing features “that drastically reduce the time required to produce polished quality content”, boasts Cisco.

Audio Watermarking

Cisco has unveiled a security feature for marking audio tracks. When a meeting is recorded, attendees are notified. But some, including the most confidential, will not. However, there is always the possibility for a person present to record what is said with a third-party device (a laptop for example) and then leak it.

To remedy this “workaround”, Cisco adds an inaudible soundtrack to the ear in each audio stream. This marking (Audio Watermarking) is different for each participant. This way, if someone plays a recording, Cisco can track which meeting participant unauthorized recorded the conversation.

Openness and alliance with Microsoft

Historically, Cisco is a manufacturer (servers, networks, etc.). Although it has also become a publisher, it continues to release collaborative hardware (equipment for rooms, headsets, cameras, tablets dedicated to videoconferencing, hardened terminals for field technicians, secure wifi terminals, etc.).

In this area, its philosophy is clearly evolving towards “openness”. “The future is for cross-platform devices,” summarizes Jeetu Patel. Concretely, “we must be able to join a meeting [sur un appareil] regardless of the software used to organize it, be it WebEx, Google Meet, Zoom or Teams,” he continues.

With this in mind, Cisco has announced a new partnership with Microsoft which, in particular, allows access to Team Rooms on its devices.

Beyond video

Numerous announcements of improvements (sound cleaned by AI, etc.) on other products in its range also show that Cisco is seeking to extend WebEx beyond the collaborative use of video.

The publisher and manufacturer insists on the fact that it offers versions for call centers and after-sales service (WebEx Contact Center) as well as for the customer journey – the famous CX – (WebEx Connect) to interact from multiple sales channels (16 in all), now including Instagram.

Both can connect in an end-to-end “WebEx platform”. Cisco adds that these tools integrate directly into all major CRM or support backends (from Salesforce to Oracle, via SAP or Zendesk).

WebEx One, on the other hand, did not highlight the holograms that had aroused some curiosity, for example for Fields Services. Cisco assures MagIT that this is still a priority, that it continues to test the solution with customers. And that we can expect announcements around this augmented reality in the near future.

A growing competition

According to IDC figures published in September 2022, Cisco is number two in the Unified Communications & Collaboration market with an 8% market share. It is now far behind Microsoft (38%), and narrowly ahead of Zoom (7%).

The growth rates are also at the expense of WebEx: Microsoft is progressing at a rate of more than 20% per year, Zoom by +7%, while Cisco is almost stagnating (+1%).

With this battery of announcements, the publisher and builder therefore hopes once again to relaunch WebEx in the face of competition that continues to gain ground.

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