Over a year since the advent of work from home and hybrid workforces, video-conferencing has become the de facto way to hold meetings within organisations and with customers. However, with a plethora of online meeting platforms to choose from, organisations may be challenged in settling on a solution that not only does the job well – but also makes it easy for everyone to participate and adds real value to an online meeting.

In a remote work environment, it is particularly important to ensure team members who have limited mobility, or have visual or hearing impairments, can follow the discussions and contribute as easily – or better than – they could do face to face.

With 98 percent of future meetings expected to include at least one remote participant, Cisco says this mixed mode of working (blending remote and in-person interactions) is fuelling long-lasting implications on work culture, event engagement and technology. Cisco Webex, now with useful features such as an in-app meeting scheduler, custom meeting layouts, important message highlighting, simple navigation between spaces, and integration with a number of business applications, also has features designed to ensure every member of the team can access and understand the content of all meetings.

Webex’s velocity of innovation has seen the addition of more than 800 new features and devices since September, and the all-new Webex Suite, including a new look and feel, supports hybrid work collaboration at 40 percent lower cost than a-la-carte. Cisco Webex is set to integrate a complete events execution and management platform necessary in the next era of hybrid events.

Full capabilities of the industry’s first end-to-end event experience at scale will become available upon completion of Cisco’s Socio acquisition. Polling, quizzes, Q&A and more powered by Slido, is the industry’s first audience engagement solution to be integrated across all collaboration experiences.

Building upon Webex’s market-leading noise removal and speech enhancement capabilities, users will have the new ability of speech optimisation for remote and shared workspaces through My Voice Only to eliminate background noise, including speech from people in the background, and solely focus on the main speaker’s speech.

My Voice Only will be available worldwide in August 2021. In addition, People Focus, announced earlier this year, is coming to Webex in 2021. People Focus uses machine learning and AI technology to individually re-frame meeting participants who are spread across a meeting room, allowing remote participants to feel more connected and everyone in the meeting to benefit from seeing body language, facial expressions and more.

The Webex Desk provides a powerful all-in-one collaboration device designed for the desk at work or home. Immersive collaboration experiences will also be available with modern touch interactions via RoomOS that connects workflows with less context switching​, as well as Webex Assistant Skills platform that opens up a universe of voice-powered extensions to seamlessly and easily integrate more controls, content and applications for Webex Devices.

Importantly, real-time data loss prevention for Webex, which automatically blocks and removes confidential information, will be available in Messaging to prevent users from posting classified content rather than redacting or deleting content after it is posted.

The inclusivity enhancements and updates come on the heels of Cisco announcing its partnership with Thrive Global to promote well-being, resiliency and empathy at work.

Cisco Webex is intelligent, personalised and built for inclusivity – so everyone can participate. Cisco notes that in designing Webex, it has prioritised accessibility and inclusivity for people of all abilities and backgrounds, and the company is continually adding new features and enhancements with this in mind.

For deaf and hard of hearing participants, Webex Closed Captioning on Webex devices for Webex Assistant for Meetings immediately transcribes what participants are saying and displays this as a caption on screen. Webex Assistant also provides real-time translations to over 100 supported languages to ensure language is not a barrier to communication and collaboration.

With automated transcription, Webex also keeps a full written record of the meeting, with clearly labelled speakers, so that participants – and anyone who missed the meeting – can review the discussion and action points.

A customisable layout allows participants to ensure they can always see a particular video feed – such as that of a sign language interpreter – even when others are speaking.

For participants with limited mobility, Webex Assistant features voice commands, allowing the user to trigger actions such as highlighting a point or taking a note. Using keyboard shortcuts, users can save time and reduce the number of mouse clicks needed.

In addition, automatically takes participants’ natural gestures and turns them into animated images, so team members can give input without saying a word. Alternatively, those with limited mobility can simply click on an emoji to air their views.

As a Cisco distribution partner, Axiz has a dedicated Cisco team and partner ecosystem to bring a range of products and services to SMBs, mid-sized businesses and large enterprises.