In a move designed to provide its customers with simpler ways to collaborate with coworkers from anywhere and on any device, Cisco Systems (CSCO) this week announced three new additions to its communications portfolio.
Cisco Spark is the company’s virtual collaboration platform, with the ability to generate unlimited virtual rooms. With Spark, enterprise users will be able to chat using mobile devices, desktops and enterprise collaboration solutions via text, audio and video between up to 25 members, according to the company.
Spark began life as "Project Squared," when it launched in November, according to Chris Wiborg, director of Collaboration Portfolio Marketing at Cisco. Since then, Cisco added several new features to the platform based on customer feedback, including room moderation, simplified administration, calendar integration and a new Windows client for faster access to content on the desktop. Cisco also added more language support and Firefox integration that will allow users to activate video chats without a separate plug-in.
The platform is available in a freemium model as well as two new premium models, including Spark Message and Spark Message and Meet. Spark Message includes additional controls for IT such as live support, while the Message and Meet option allows for up to 25 callers and comes bundled with an enterprise license for WebEx.
Cisco Context Service and Cisco Telepresence MX800 Dual
For its call center partners, Cisco unveiled Context Service, a cloud-based service that will allow customer service representatives to store interaction data between customers and representatives for future reference. With Context Service, representatives can access chat, social media, email and phone systems to get a more complete view of each customer’s issue so callers don’t have to repeat their information every time they speak to a new representative. The solution can be integrated with other Cisco customer service offerings and is open to third-party partners so they can write their own information and utilize big data to recognize customer patterns.
“This second item is really focused on simplicity of customer care for the agent and the converse of that is ideally better customer service for the end customer,” said Wiborg, in an interview with The VAR Guy.
Finally, Cisco announced the availability of its Telepresence MX800 Dual, a new videoconferencing unit with dual cameras. The MX800 is capable of tracking active speakers with one camera and anticipating the next speaker with the other and includes two side-by-side, 70-inch screens. The solution allows for multiscreen video, offering a good balance between Cisco’s single-screen and triple-screen enterprise solutions, Wiborg noted.
The MX800, which also features wireless connectivity to laptops and tablets, starts at $79,900. The solution is expected to provide enterprise customers with a refresh point for their collaboration hardware and to give large companies the ability to utilize simpler collaboration as the industry moves toward more pervasive video solutions.
“We really see this as sparking new revenue opportunities for our partners, sparking new consulting value-adds for them and creating whole new recurring revenues opportunities,” said Richard McLeod, senior director of Worldwide Channels at Cisco. “It’s all about having video-enabled collaboration from your pocket to the desktop to every meeting room as well as to the boardroom. This is one more piece to our ability to provide that capability.”