Cisco just took the wraps off its revamped calling, messaging and virtual meeting solution with its new Webex Suite. Now integrated into a common platform, Cisco launched Webex Suite Tuesday with polling and a new live event hosting platform.
Webex Suite is Cisco’s effort to tap customers who flocked to Zoom and Microsoft Teams, among others, during the pandemic. Cisco, which also launched a new Webex brand and logo, said it has added 800 usability and management enhancements. Also, Cisco said the entire Webex Suite, available immediately, is priced 40% less than the piecemeal components.
Included in the suite but set for rollout this summer is a new platform to host events. In December, the Webex suite will include polling capabilities. Furthermore, in August, look for improved audio that can filter out unwanted sounds, among numerous other features.
Jeetu Patel, general manager of Cisco’s collaboration and security business, led Tuesday’s virtual Webex Suite launch. Citing various studies, Patel anticipates that entire workforces working at home will shift to more hybrid work environments. For example, before COVID-19, he said only 8% of meetings had at least one participant fail to show up. Looking forward, that will be the case for 98% of meetings.
Cisco’s Jeetu Patel
“I believe Cisco is in the best position and has the most comprehensive solution for a hybrid pattern of work,” Patel said. “It starts with a strategy with Webex that’s around an application suite that’s comprehensive, has capabilities around calling messaging, meetings and much, much more. And all of this rich functionality that we have, and that we continue to keep adding to, should also be made available through APIs and SDKs so that platform can interoperate with other applications.”
TECHnalysis Research chief analyst Bob O’Donnell believes the enhancements will make Webex Suite stand out.
Techanalysis’s Bob O’Donnell
“Cisco is taking a big step forward along the path of enabling a complete platform and new environment for future methods of collaborative work,” in a post by O’Donnell first published by Seeking Alpha. “Recognizing that merely adding lots of relatively modest enhancements is a challenging strategy for the long term, the company instead is now tying together several larger assets (including those acquired from Slido and Socio) into a more comprehensive offering.”
Partners Incentivized for More Usage
As part of the launch, Cisco is stepping up its efforts to encourage greater usage of Webex Suite. Cisco is launching new incentives for partners when customers increase their usage of Webex. As a customer uses Webex more, Cisco will give partners free Webex services and equipment for their internal use.
Cisco’s Kristyn Hogan
“We want to get this in the hands of all of our partners, but we’ve tiered it in a way that if you’re a really big partner, selling a ton of collab, we’re going to give you a really large amount of Cisco collaboration software to realize the value and sell that value to your customers,” said Krystin Hogan, Cisco’s head of global collaboration partner sales.
“All of this innovation we’re announcing does not matter at all if our customers aren’t turning it on and using it after they’ve purchased it,” she told Channel Futures. “We’ve put a huge focus as it relates to collab on really incenting and making that life cycle motion profitable for our partners.”
Cisco will also pay partners when customers increase their active use of Webex by 20% or more per month.
“If you achieve that threshold, you get paid,” Hogan said. “We strongly believe that that’s a partner-led motion versus Cisco.”
That incentive program is in pilot with 10 customers, she said.
Increasing usage is critical, she added. That’s because customers who activate Webex, but don’t use all of its features, will be less likely to renew. Hogan said now is the time partners should persuade customers to use Webex rather than Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
“We’re really seeing a lot of these customers who maybe made a very quick decision to standardize on Zoom or Microsoft take a step back with a long-range strategic view,” Hogan said.
New Webex Brand Emphasizing Inclusion
The new Webex brand seeks to underscore a significance of the new suite and the transition in how people work. Moreover, tt was inspired by a theme of inclusion, according to a post by Cisco Webex CMO Aruna Ravuchandran.
Ravuchandran noted that the “W” in the new Webex logo is a rotating double helix. She described it as “the perfect metaphor for teams in flow, each member participating and contributing equally to create something wonderful.”