Cisco WebEx share

Bold and ProudThe New Cisco WebEx share is targeted towards making any room into a conference room, sometimes you may have a conference room but not enabled for Video Conferencing, thereby enhancing the conference experience. This product is a low cost option to convert the TV in that room into a high quality  collaboration experience whereby one can enable wireless content sharing without the need to connect any dongles to enable it to work. It allows you to book a room, display the calendar on screen and join the meeting with the WebEx Teams Application. The WebEx Teams Application will show you the room in proximity that you are able to connect to. This easily simplifies and enhances the meeting join experience by simply launching the WebEx Teams application and connecting to a device:

If it has identified a device it will show up as such:

The WebEx share is a nice and compact device designed to transform any TV into a WebEx device. This makes use of the great cisco innovations we are used to in a traditional video endpoint packed in a dongle. Turning on the HDTV display is triggered by;

  1. A person simply entering the room
  2. A WebEx client app pairing with the room device
  3. Calendar event scheduled 15 mins before the meeting
  4. Making noise in the room

The device supports HDMI with a 1080p resolution and 30fps.

You can connect using it in three ways;

  1. Wi-Fi this is the default option – on powering up with no wired connection it will initiate AP mode, while in this mode it the connection will be secured via WPA2 with a numeric password – once the connection is established AP Mode is disabled. The Dongle supports 802.11ac, an IEEE standard with speeds reportedly reaching 1.3 Gbps,
  2. PoE – Yes Power over Ethernet, this will plug into any PoE enabled switches
  3. Wired – Non-PoE

It has Enterprise grade security for wireless by supporting the EAP Protocol suite including PEAP, FAST and TLS. It Supports wired 802.1x port based Authentication & Proxy Support. The EAP/TLS and 802.1x can have local or customer CA signed certificates.

How to provision:

  1. Login to WebEx Control Hub
  2. Setup a new ‘place’
  3. Enable calendar service and associate a calendar mailbox to the ‘place’
  4. Generate activation code and enter on WebEx Share activation screen

As with any cloud registered webex device, WebEx chare will recognise and greet you upon entrance to the conference room as long (as you have the WebEx Teams App running). This technology is identical to WebEx room kits or the WebEx board.

When a room is reserved you can see the Room Name (top left), Current Time, any current and upcoming  meetings:-

Comparison to Competition
There are a number of players in this space, namely Polycom, Crestron, Barco and some others. While they all have Local Wireless sharing in common Enterprise management is offered by some but Meetings and calendar integration is not offered by any except Cisco WebEx Share. The Price it will be released at is incredibly competitive and especially considering the technology it is packed it will be worth it.

This Device will be available Q4 CY 2018 across North America, Australia and Europe, limited orderability is available before that.

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Cisco WebEx Assistant

Webex-AssistantWe all agree Technology should be an enabler not a hindrance. In the collaboration area, enabling colleagues to be able to communicate with each other without the need to understand technology but rather to ensure the medium used to contact another is simple and causing the least hindrance possible. Aside from the area of interoperability – which is in itself an entire topic for discussion, in recent years vendors have tried to prioritise the usability as a main focus. In this fast pacing world, users already have a vast number of things they need to specialise in and the last thing they should be worried about contending with should be the technology. 

in my experience, Cisco has successfully managed to standardise the usability aspect across all their video enabled endpoints so there is no need to learn how to use one endpoint to another. For their part, they have generally been focussing on making most of its products more ‘intuitive’ and in the workspace based collaboration arena they have been pretty consistent in achieving this ‘more intuitive’ way of working.

while continuing on working to enhance the user experience they are now working on leaveraging the use of Artificial Intelligence to take it to the next level. With the upcoming introduction of Cisco WebEx Assistant it aims to take the collaborative experience to the he next level by making it more personal. With WebEx Assistant it now powers a more natural way of communicating with technology as if it was a person. This way, it does away with the need to know how to dial a person rather now to just speak to the Assistant asking it to make the call. 

What makes this different to the use of Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home and any other consumer based offering out there? On the face of it, it seems like a valid question, but when you consider the broad nature and superficial depth of the queries it does not fully apply in the business context. When querying Amazon Alexa for the name of an actor on a particular movie one is watching will be different to a business application where its application has more a specific context, for example in an organisation there would be thousands of users and the AI component can identify differentiate John from another user based on his speech patterns, and then to link the relevance of John’s calling habits, meeting information and organisational structure to identify the most likely match for John wanting to call Jon ABC as opposed to Jon DEF on the basis of his interaction and organisational placement and a number of other factors. If John has a impending meeting to then just join the meeting:

Okay – WebEx, Join my meeting …

Hi John, Joining your meeting…

From a corporate perspective there is also the consideration of security, we may have all read the reports of Amazon Alexa listening in on and recording private conversations and sending to other people – would this be acceptable in corporate organisations ? 

The Initial release of cognitive AI from WebEx assistant allows users to perform basic functions such as Start Meetings, Join and Leave Meetings, Call anyone in the organisation, providing basic capabilities such as:

  • Meeting Rooms
    • ‘Start the Meeting’
    • ‘End The Meeting’ 
  • Personal Room
    • Join my personal room ‘
    • ‘Join Tim’s Personal Room’
  • Calling
    • ‘Call Joe Bloggs ‘
    • ‘End the call ‘
  • Device Control
    • ‘Turn up the microphone’
    • ‘Mute the microphone’