Cisco WebexOne event

Cisco WebexOne – Innovation on Display

2 Nov 2023

Cisco held its WebexOne customer event in Anaheim, CA, and also provided analysts with a day and a half of deep dives to some of the announcements, in addition to Q&A time with the Cisco execs. During WebexOne, the company made a number of announcements that demonstrate its commitment to the overall communications and collaboration space – and of course, AI innovations.

Jeetu Patel, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Security and Collaboration, kicked off the event and set the stage by discussing three key customer challenges:

  • Making hybrid work, work. Many organizations have been struggling with getting hybrid work to be effective and inclusive. For example, one key challenge is to help people who aren’t in the room feel that they’re not being left out during meetings.
  • Make the office a magnate, not a mandate. Back-to-the-office mandates aren’t working. Although a large number of companies have mandates for workers to be in the physical office for 2-3 days/week, attendance has generally been low, and many workers prefer to work from home.
  • Show customers you care. As you’ll see, Cisco is doubling down on its contact center and customer experience offerings, and built an AI-first Contact Center and CX platform from the ground up.

To overcome these challenges, Cisco’s strategy focuses on three main areas:

  • Reimagine work with the Webex Suite
  • Reimagine workspaces with devices
  • Reimagine customer experience with contact center and CPaaS

Announcements and Innovations

Cisco has been innovating at a rapid pace and made several new announcements at the event, including:

  • The industry’s first real-time media model (RMM).
  • The new Webex AI Assistant, available across the Cisco portfolio, including the Webex Suite, Contact Center, Control Hub, and Cisco devices.
  • Webex AI Codec, providing crystal clear audio quality while using up to 16x less bandwidth. It is more efficient than the current codec and industry standard codec and uses generative AI audio to rebuild packets in poor bandwidth conditions.

With the real-time media model, during a video meeting the camera can see when someone steps away from their desk and provide a catch-up message when they return to the desk. The user can then have a dialog and conversation with the AI Assistant and ask questions such as whether their name was mentioned, or if there’s an action item to follow up on – all without disturbing the meeting. After the meeting, a transcript is provided that includes non-text queues, such as “Joe stepped away from the meeting,” or that someone expressed an emoji.

WebexOne event - 2023

Power of the Platform

One of the biggest themes was the power of the Webex Platform, as well as the Webex Suite, which includes calling, messaging, meetings, whiteboarding, polling, events, webinar, and video messaging. As noted throughout the event, the advantage of being on a single platform keeps compounding. For example, AI capabilities can be used across all the Cisco applications, while security and policy can be applied across the different products. The power of the platform provides Cisco capabilities, such as noise cancellation for example, throughout the Cisco applications and devices. Case in point, Cisco notes that the platform will deliver immersive experiences with AI and that it has completely AI-powered the platform.

AI – Of Course

The areas where Cisco is focusing its AI activities include:

  • Language intelligence, including translation, transcription
  • Audio intelligence, including background noise removal, speaker tracking
  • Video intelligence, including cinematic meetings, people focus

AI will be pervasive in every aspect of the Webex platform, as Cisco claims to have completely AI-powered the platform. Patel noted that “Every product, every persona will benefit from AI,” including the Webex Suite, Cisco devices, Webex Contact Center, Webex Connect, and Webex Control Hub. For example, AI for the Webex Suite provides a range of capabilities, including the ability to catch up quickly with meeting, messaging, Vidcast, and Slido summaries, and the ability to communicate globally with message translation in 30+ languages.

I was surprisingly impressed with the new Webex AI Assistant. Yes, many vendors now offer assistants, copilots, etc., but one thing that’s different about Webex AI Assistant is the ability to deliver messages in various tones. For example, in addition to providing real-time suggestions for creating messages, the Change Message Tone feature lets you change the tone of the message to be more positive, professional, joyful, friendly, etc. So instead of saying “this document is awful,” it can suggest a friendlier way of wording the message, such as “this is a good start but it needs more work.”

The AI Assistant can also summarize content and extract insights in meetings, messages, etc. With the Meeting Recap capability, the AI can look at a meeting recording and break it up into chapters to make it easy to jump to relevant parts of the meeting. While many vendors now offer Meeting Summary capabilities, the Webex AI Assistant can extract action items and time stamp them so you can see when the action item was discussed and who the owner of the action item is.

New Customer Experience Offerings

While all of these announcements were interesting and in some cases groundbreaking, I was most intrigued by the announcements related to Webex Contact Center. Cisco now has three offers to bolster the Webex contact center or customer experience offerings:

  • Webex Customer Experience Basic
  • Webex Customer Experience Essentials
  • Webex Customer Experience Standard and Premium

 Webexone event 2023 - image 2

First, Cisco expanded the Webex Suite with Webex Customer Experience Basic, providing basic call center functionality, including voice queues, skills-based routing, multi-line, multi call window, audio intelligence, and call queue analytics. These capabilities are available for free for Webex Suite customers. While this does not provide many bells and whistles, it fills a niche and provides fundamental features for organizations that don’t require full-blown contact center capabilities.

This offering is now generally available.

Next, the new Webex Customer Experience Essentials enables customer-facing teams of any size to have contact center capabilities. In addition to the Basic features, this offering adds omnichannel, agent screen pops, intelligent routing, supervisor experience, and analytics. Essentials is aimed at companies that may have a formal contact center but need to bring in subject matter experts and the entirety of the organization to serve customers. It enables employees outside the contact center to become specialized agents, removing the potential need for an agent to call back a customer if they need additional information. This is a topic I’ve been passionate about for many years, and I’m thrilled to see Cisco introduce an offering aimed at expanding customer service responsibilities and capabilities beyond the contact center.

Webex Customer Experience Essentials will be priced at $30 per named user per month and will be available for purchase for Webex Calling users in Q1 2024.

Webex Customer Experience Standard & Premium provides feature-rich contact center capabilities, including deep agent and supervisor functionality, automation and virtual agents, AI capabilities, customer journey data, and robust reporting and analytics.

I had the opportunity to speak with Jono Luk, VP, Product Management, Webex Contact Center. In this video interview, Luk describes the new upcoming contact center offerings, including coaching highlights, conversation summarizations and wrap up codes, as well as capabilities like background noise removal, agent wellness, and the new AI codec that provides high- quality audio and video. Luk also talks about the new packages available, and the use cases for the Webex Customer Experience Essentials offering.

The AI Assistant for Webex Contact Center provides a range of new capabilities, including:

  • Suggested responses, using generative AI to automatically suggest responses to agents when interacting with customers on digital channels. 
  • Conversation summaries and wrap-ups summarizes the call or chat for both the agent and customer. Agent wrap-ups automatically generate wrap-up codes and actions following every customer interaction.  
  • Coaching highlights shows supervisors the highest and lowest customer-rated interactions and automatically summarizes the highest-rated interactions to provide supervisors with coaching tips. 

One new enhancement I found most intriguing is the focus on agent wellness. Cisco developed a proprietary AI-powered agent burnout detection and mitigation solution to let businesses proactively address agent well-being by enabling automated breaks, such as a Thrive Reset, and real-time coaching after challenging customer interactions.  

The AI listens to conversations and ingests platform data and then intelligently surfaces data from various resources. It can detect contact center stressors and burnout indicators impacting the agent, and then act in real time by offering real-time coaching and automated actions before and during interactions to support agents. For example, if the AI detects that an agent is getting stressed based on the past few calls, it can schedule a break for the agent, and even change the agent status to “Reset” and then back to “Available” after the break. During the break it can offer relaxing videos, or based on the integration with Thrive, agents can access Thrive’s library of hundreds of 60-second Reset videos, including stretching, breathing, mindfulness and gratitude breaks.

As one of the few vendors that offers premises-based contact center solutions in addition to cloud based offerings, Cisco is in a unique position. I spoke with Zack Taylor, Sr. Director, Strategic Communications, Cisco Contact Center, about the increased role of contact center solutions at Cisco (or the “long and winding road” for contact centers), Cisco’s premises-based offerings, and the integration of UCaaS and CCaaS, which ties in with Cisco’s new Webex Customer Experience Essentials.


I appreciated the openness and honesty of the Cisco execs during the analyst sessions, especially when asked about the perception of Webex as being a dated platform. Patel acknowledged that Cisco is competing with “verb status” (an obvious head nod to Zoom), and that it takes time to change perception. He stated that Cisco’s net promoter score was in the low 20s two years ago, but is in the 60s now, demonstrating how far Cisco has come in the past two years. Patel noted that Cisco will keep chipping away at its messaging, and hopes that customers will give Webex another shot and then tell their friends about how much they like using Webex. He also acknowledged the role of partners, claiming that Cisco’s partners are “more excited than ever before.” As Brian Stout, VP, Global Collaboration Sales, told the analysts, Cisco is going back on the offensive.

This is a different Cisco than in the past, as evidenced by the collaboration (no pun intended) between Cisco and Microsoft to make their applications and devices interoperate at a native level. Cisco is also serious about contact center and customer experience, which is increasingly important in today’s current market. Cisco is one of the few vendors that has its own UCaaS, CCaaS, and CPaaS offering, which it can leverage to its advantage.

Cisco is doing a great job of innovating and enhancing its platform, application, and devices. Now it needs to improve the perception that some organizations may have, and continue to bring in new customers and logos.


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