Enhances security, compliance, and intelligence as demand for the technology grows
Cisco Systems is expanding the capabilities in its Webex collaboration offerings to meet the demand of enterprises that still have most of their employees working remotely but are putting plans in place to reopen their offices.
The Lowdown: The enhancements to Webex around security, compliance, and intelligence come amid a flurry of announcement from the company this week stemming from its virtual Cisco Live 2020 event.
The Details: Like other vendors with remote collaboration and videoconferencing products, Cisco has seen a steep increase in the use of Webex technologies in the past couple of months as enterprises and SMBs sent the bulk of their employees to work from home to mitigate the rapid spread of the deadly coronavirus. In April, about 500 million Webex participants generated 25 billion meeting minutes, more than triple the average volume.
The upgrades to Webex include:
> More capacity: Cisco is now running the Webex platform at three times the previous capacity.
> More security: The vendor has extended data loss prevention (DLP), legal hold, and e-discovery to Webex Meetings, improving the security of all meeting content, including recordings, transcriptions, action items, and highlights. Cisco also is expanding its end-to-end encryption options to include AES 256-bit encryption with Galois/Counter Mode (GCM) to enhance protection for meeting data and to resist tampering.
> New tools for managing a remote workforce: Cisco is bulking up Webex Control Hub to manage telework as well as return to the office. Users can instantly deploy Webex Assistant voice assistance technology to conference room devices, get insights into such information as the most used rooms – which can help in such areas as cleaning schedules and room configuration – see data regarding meetings, analyze usage trends of services and devices, and troubleshoot and support remote workers.
> Hybrid environment support: The company is adding a cloud-connected unified communications (UC) feature to Control Hub that simplifies IT workflows and expands Webex Calling analytics.
> Improved telehealth: Cisco is integrating Epic electronic health record (EHR) software with Webex Teams to enhance video visits with patients, review medical histories, and update clinical documentation.
The Impact: The cloud collaboration market already was growing as the workforce became increasingly mobile, but it was supercharged by the COVID-19 pandemic, with businesses almost overnight sending most employees to work from home. In a difficult economic environment, companies like Cisco, Microsoft, and Zoom are reporting significant demand for their remote collaboration and videoconferencing products. Many businesses also are turning to channel partners to help them adapt to the new business model.
The Buzz: “Keeping employees, heads of state, healthcare providers, and many more securely connected and productive is at the heart of what we do. Even before the pandemic, Cisco was one of the world’s largest collaboration providers, supporting nearly half the world’s videoconferencing. Now we’re supporting 3X the normal volumes,” said Javed Khan, vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Collaboration Group. “We are proud we could be there for our customers when they needed us most, and we will continue to be there moving forward as we navigate through these times.”
“Remote work has proven to be a critical enabler of business and economic continuity, ultimately proving that work really is something that we do, and not somewhere that we go,” said Jim Lundy, founder, CEO, and lead analyst at Aragon Research. “In this next phase, companies have the opportunity to completely rethink how they operate—from real estate holdings to recruitment strategies—and collaboration technologies that provide high-quality and highly secure video at scale will be key as they reimagine the way they work.”
“Bringing all of our collaboration tools together in the cloud with Cisco Webex has delivered an unparalleled experience,” said Mike Hinks, director of IT infrastructure at Vivint Solar. “The ability to have our entire company switch to work-from-home overnight while allowing our IT team to seamlessly support our global operations is enhancing our business continuity strategy and the dynamics of our interactions. Webex is playing an integral role in keeping work flowing during these unprecedented times.”
“Once the pandemic hit, our first concern was for the safety of our employees, and then we focused on enabling them to be the most productive from home,” said Abhijit Mazumder, CIO at Tata Consultancy Services. “In a very short time, we had 95% of our associates working in secure borderless workspaces collaborating, effectively leveraging various cloud-based tools like Cisco Webex.”
“Webex Control Hub is enabling our customers with greater insight across their collaboration and communications portfolio, including deep security, analytics, and compliance capabilities,” said Alex Bennett, group senior vice president GTM of NTT’s Intelligent Workplace unit. “As organizations are navigating their strategies for the new norm, visibility into application performance, whether in the office or from home, within a single pane of glass, is very powerful. With the accelerated transition to cloud we can leverage Webex to support clients to improve employee experience and support tangible business benefits.”
“In this new era of remote work, businesses around the globe are urgently looking for better tools to help employees seamlessly collaborate internally and with customers and partners from anywhere and on any device. We are excited to expand our partnership with Cisco with a new Box and Webex integration that enables secure remote work for our joint customers,” Box CEO Aaron Levie said.