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Cisco’s Jeetu Patel On The Dreaded ‘Second-Class’ Meeting Citizens, Playing Nice With The Competition, And Webex’s Future

Cisco’s collaboration and security leader talks about the 400 new Webex developments in the last six months, remote working challenges, “built-in, not bolted-on” security, and offered a sneak peak into Webex’s roadmap.

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Equal-Opportunity Collaboration

Jeetu Patel, Cisco’s senior vice president and general manager, security and applications group -- which houses the Cisco Webex division -- has been at the helm since June. It’s safe to say that his first eight months in the job have been equal parts uncertainty and nonstop innovation.

Patel made the leap to Cisco in the midst of a global pandemic, which had millions of new and existing users all over the globe flocking to the popular Webex platform to help them keep communications and collaboration flowing so their businesses could keep moving, even if every employee was now working from home.

Cisco’s Webex division quickly got to work to scale the platform to accommodate new users, and after the initial influx of demand calmed, Patel’s unit got to work speeding up research and development of Webex (a whopping 400 new Webex capabilities have been launched since September).

One product of that work is the recently launched real-time language translation feature for Webex, which the tech giant said will foster a more “inclusive” environment for collaboration.

The volume of innovation, said Patel, has never been higher. And the most exciting part? This global collaboration “experiment” might be a great leveler. That’s because regardless of geography, language preference and socioeconomic level, collaboration platforms have proved that people can now be hired and work from anywhere, Patel said.

“Opportunity is not equally accessible and is unequally distributed, even though human potential is not,” Patel said.

But at the same time, the unified communications and collaboration market still has some work to do. For example, many tools are making for great planned communications, also known as scheduled meetings and calls. However, more spontaneous communications, like hallway chatter and random break room conversations, haven’t been successfully addressed yet, which will go a long way in building more inclusive environments in which remote employees aren’t treated like “second-class citizens,” Patel said.

In a candid conversation with reporters, Patel this month talked about Webex development, and new features, remote working challenges, security concerns, and provided a sneak peak into Webex’s future roadmap and integration plans.

What follows are excerpts from the Q&A.

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