Cisco updates Webex People Insights to help boost employee well-being 

Cisco revealed enhancements to its People Insights feature at Cisco Live 2021 as Webex turns its attention to employee well-being and work/life balance. Source: YouTube.

The enterprise collaboration software and tools market has become very competitive over the last 15 to 18 months, according to Cisco’s chief executive officer Chuck Robbins. 

The company predicts that 98 per cent of meetings in the office will include a remote participant, and while competitors like Microsoft and G Suite claim the biggest slices of the market share pie in the collaboration space, Robbins is confident in the direction of Cisco’s own portfolio.

“I think that we have begun to hear customers say – we’re going to get to the other side of the pandemic, and then we’re going to make longer-term strategic decisions about hybrid work,” he said during his keynote at Cisco Live last week. “There’s the survive the pandemic, and then there’s what our architecture is going to be long-term, and I think that’s where we will have an opportunity to actually regain market share in this space because things like security, things like privacy, things like inclusivity are going to matter.”

At Cisco Live 2021, Robbins and other executives said Webex will help users be more productive and help foster inclusive work experiences whether they are seated across the physical table or across the screen from their teammates.

The new Webex People Insights

First introduced in 2019 to allow individuals and teams to set and achieve goals for their meetings and help maintain a healthy work-life balance, Webex People Insights has been expanded to include three different perspectives: Personal, Team and Organizational.

Starting this summer, Cisco says select Webex customers in the U.S. will have access to the new perspectives at no extra cost. The company says the new features will be rolled out in a phased approach over the coming year.

Personal Insights

Available only to individual users, personal insights are the platform’s insights based on individual user behaviour. It surfaces daily trends and interactions so that users can set and monitor their personal preferences. 

“It’s built on a technology called Webex graph, and it’s all done with an extreme emphasis on protecting end users’ privacy. Because at Cisco, we believe that privacy is a basic human right and personal insights are designed for you, not your boss,” said Jeetu Patel, senior vice-president and general manager, security and collaboration for Cisco.

Personal Insights, click to enlarge. | Source: Cisco

Personal Insights will show how often you’re accepting meetings you never attend or when you’re taking too many meetings after regular work hours. It can show you if you’re multitasking during meetings or not sharing your video as well. 

The answers to these questions will, Patel says, help users decide when to decline or reschedule meetings to ensure they meet their personal work preferences and goals and what or who to give more time to. 

Team Insights

These insights will give each team member a view of patterns between connections, collaboration habits, and work-life integration for the entire team – while maintaining privacy. Cisco says Team Insights will help build a more inclusive work experience for all team members.

For example, one team member can become a good steward of their team’s wellbeing by looking at what percentage of meetings are taking place outside of their team’s preferred working hours. They can also facilitate strong working relationships by making sure their team is connecting with the right people and teams.

Organizational Insights 

These insights will give users a bird’s-eye view of their organization’s collaboration trends and patterns to help them spot silos and identify teams that may benefit from additional support or an increased focus on inclusivity. 

For example, if a company moves to a new business model or organizational design that requires new ways of collaboration, they can monitor how the model is working and take action where they see gaps.

People focus

“When some meeting participants are remote, and others are together in the office, the remote participants can feel disconnected. They can’t always tell what’s going on in the room. They might not always feel like they’re being heard,” said Patel.

To enable the hybrid workplace, Cisco Webex is previewing a future capability called ‘People Focus,’ which uses machine learning and AI technology to individually re-frame meeting participants who are spread across a meeting room.

“If you’re virtual, it’s hard to see everyone spread across a conference room. It’s tough to pick up on nuances like body language and facial expressions. With People Focus, we can crop the video to focus on each person individually. This way, remote participants feel more connected,” Patel explained.

The feature will make remote participants feel more connected by providing a close-up “cropped” view of each person in the room and will be available later this year.

In related news, Cisco also announced new cloud pricing for Webex desk and room devices. Now, new or existing customers with a Webex Meetings Active User or Enterprise Agreement will qualify for substantial discounts on select Webex Devices.

For example, with a Webex EA, the Cisco Suggested Resale Price (CSRP) of the Webex Desk Pro will be US $2,499, the recently announced Webex Desk for $1,249, and the reimagined hotdesk with the Webex Desk Hub bundled with the Webex Desk Camera is $699.

 

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Pragya Sehgal
Pragya Sehgal
Can be contacted at psehgal@itwc.ca or 647.695.3494. Born and raised in the capital city of India - Delhi - bounded by the river Yamuna on the west, Pragya has climbed the Himalayas, and survived medical professional stream in high school without becoming a patient or a doctor. Pragya now makes her home in Canada with her husband - a digital/online marketing fanatic who also loves to prepare delicious meals for her. When she isn’t working or writing around tech, she’s probably watching art films on Netflix, or wondering whether she should cut her hair short or not.

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