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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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What has been greatest challenge for the collaboration market over the past year?  

The possibilities of all the things that could happen. The first phase of this was: “It seems like there’s a lot of customers that we need to make sure stay up and running,” so last year at this time, the focus was [keeping] the system up, scale the data center, make sure the businesses are running. That was number one. Step two; there were a lot of small little areas that were starting to [become] annoyances to people because [users] didn’t know how to use the systems sometimes, and working from home, they didn’t have IT support, so you had to make sure it was easy to use and there were no kinks in the products.

Now, it’s [about] what the possibilities are for innovation because if you fast forward five years, hopefully we aren’t just looking at each other in these boxes on the screen -- that’s not the way we are going to communicate. We are going to be more immersive in the way we communicate. So, there’s going to be a fair amount of innovation at work so this [experience] truly gets to 10x better than in person. How are [we doing that]? You can record a conversation, you can share convos with someone, you can transcribe it for people speaking different languages, and you can make features that allow introverts to have an equal voice in the room … those kinds of things are very unique. The biggest challenge though, is getting those technologies to be more functional, and capabilities-wise, very rich. how do you make sure that [you build technologies] for people that are not as technologically adept and make it as simple as possible. The challenge is, how do you keep simplifying? And never be satisfied that it’s simple enough. How many clicks does it take to join a Webex, and can we shave off one more click? Those are all things we’re trying to do.

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