The Cisco networking giant is leveraging asynchronous video to boost productivity and provide more flexibility in employees’ workdays.
Vidcast, the asynchronous video solution, currently in beta, unveiled by Cisco should help combat the fatigue of video meetings and allow employees to remain productive without being constrained by time zone issues or calendar incompatibilities. In the blog post, the OEM said that with “asynchronous video messaging…users no longer need to jostle their schedules to maintain effective communication and collaboration with their entire team.”
Omar Tawakol, vice president and general manager of Cisco Webex Growth said that while during the Covid-19 pandemic Webex had sought to make meetings more inclusive, many users still felt at some point a certain fatigue with videoconference meetings. And companies that work across continents and time zones have found it’s often difficult to match calendars and schedule meetings. “Sometimes I wait seven or eight days to do something that should be resolved immediately,” Mr. Tawakol said.
Webex adapts to remote working
This year, Webex wanted to bring developments that go beyond collaboration alone, hence the company’s interest in asynchronous video, an area in which its competitors have also worked. This is the case of Slack, which has been talking about asynchronous technology since June, while other companies such as Asana, or Microsoft and its Fluid components, have already adopted it. “There was a time when people said what we needed was faster trains,” Mr Tawakol said. “That was true, but we also needed better performing cars and more efficient planes. Sometimes we need technology that doesn’t build on an existing technology, but instead disrupts it. In the same way, we said to ourselves: what if we don’t have a meeting at all? »
Users wishing to create a Vidcast can record their session directly in the Webex platform and accompany their video message with relevant information via screen sharing. Recipients can then give feedback in real time by adding emojis to portions of video or responding with comments or even another Vidcast. Navigation tools like thumbnails, chapters, and jump links make it easy for recipients to find and navigate to relevant sections of the video. Vidcasts are watched automatically at 1.2 times the playback speed, but this can be adjusted according to the viewer’s preferences, and the videos are even captioned. Currently, Vidcasts are limited to 15 minutes, with video responses limited to two minutes. Omar Tawakol compares the short duration of Vidcasts to Twitter’s microblogging offering. “The social network has limited the number of characters to prevent people from thinking too much, and so that they can easily scroll through a feed. The idea was to simplify consumption and creation and that’s what we’re doing,” he said. “It’s about making it simple and quick.”
Numerous projects around Webex
Vidcast is the first product of Webex Leap, an incubation program also launched this week. According to Mr. Tawakol, the incubator team is made up of 90% people from start-ups recently acquired by Cisco, who were selected because they like fast and innovative development. The equipment manufacturer plans to launch several Webex Leap projects each year in areas such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and additional asynchronous innovations and new forms of collaboration. “The principle of Webex Leap is to create disruptive innovations that do not fit into an existing product, which allows us to experiment in the market at an extremely fast speed,” said Mr. Tawakol. He said the engineering team started coding Vidcast in May, the alpha version was in testing in June, and the waitlist for beta testing opened this week.
The date of general availability of the functionality was not specified immediately. Tawakol said the roadmap of planned additions for Webex was “very full,” but Cisco wanted the platform to remain balanced and user-friendly. “The race will not be won by whoever adds 20 more features than their competitor,” he said. “The race will be won if creation, consumption, and interaction remain easy”.