There are days when it is really hard to stay ahead of the curve. I just finished posting a big rant about WebEx Event Center functionality when my inbox was suddenly filled with news announcements and commentary about WebEx.
Cisco issued a press release today announcing changes to its suite of web collaboration products. The very first thing that caught my eye is that the product marketing group has FINALLY dropped the novelty capitalization of the product line. What had been WebEx is now Webex. Hallelujah. This now puts them in direct trademark competition with Webex heavy machinery rollers, but I don't think there will be much crossover product confusion between customers of Cisco and Maxcess.
Cisco is betting hard on video meetings as the primary business application of the moment. If you go to the new Cisco Webex products page, you see an emphasis on Webex as a way to go "From meeting, to brainstorming, to sharing with the whole team." Today's press release shared that Cisco Spark is now rebranded as Webex Teams. Webex Meetings is now firmly focused on video meetings, with meeting participants "strongly encouraged" to turn on their camera upon entering an online session. The associated marketing image of the interface features 25 speakers (Cisco says you can now have up to 75 on-camera participants and up to 1000 viewers in a Webex Meeting).
Controls are now accessed through button icons arranged in a row at the bottom of the video image:
There was a conspicuous absence of any mention of the former WebEx Event Center or of webinar-oriented functionality on the new primary products page. I eventually clicked through to the sub-page for Cisco Webex Meetings and found a section at the bottom promoting Cisco Webex Events for audiences up to 3,000 participants and Cisco Webex Webcasting for broadcasting to as many as 40,000 viewers. So they have not killed off their events business, but it is unambiguously taking a back seat to the more casual videoconferencing idea. Webex Training and Webex Support are also listed as available products under the Webex Meetings umbrella.
When I clicked through to the new page for Webex Events, I found a few marketing screen shots that hinted at a significant product redesign. The window to record a meeting showed a larger and more obvious record button and an intriguing synthesized audio waveform display:
It also looks like they may have finally upgraded the woefully obsolete registration interface for events (although they need to fix the typo of "Pleace" in the middle of their image!)
I am looking forward to finding out more about the new product releases, as well as learning how Cisco plans to handle rollout to its large existing customer base. There is going to be quite a need for new training and support documentation to correspond to the redesigns in layout and operations. This may be a difficult transition for some administrators and corporate technology trainers, but the upgrades were overdue and I'm glad to see a significant product upgrade.