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Briefing: Cisco’s Webex Room Navigator

On October 6, 2020, Cisco introduced a slew of updates for Webex software and hardware, coming October and early November. This briefing predominantly featured the release of Webex Room Navigator with of IoT technology, which seeks to reduce COVID-19 spread and optimize office footprint.

The Webex Room Navigator has two versions: in-room (for employees in the meeting room already) and outside-room. For both versions, organizations can record an expanded selection of environmental sensors, including:

  • Presence
  • Mask awareness
  • Lighting levels
  • Room acoustics
  • People count
  • Ambient noise
  • Overall noise
  • Temperature
  • Humidity

The outside-room version of the Webex Room Navigator has the following capabilities:

  • Intelligent room booking
  • Room check-in
  • Touch and voice activated screens
  • Room capacity display
  • Room usage and availability
  • Integrated sensors
  • Digital signage

The in-room version of the Webex Room Navigator has the following capabilities:

  • Intelligent room booking
  • Touch and voice activated screens
  • Flexible viewing angles
  • Room capacity displays
  • Room usage and availability
  • Organization directory
  • Alerts (social distancing, cleaning schedules, meeting ending warnings)
  • Integrated sensors
  • Digital signage

Alongside these releases, Cisco also demoed the Control Hub Analytics for IT – a software that visualizes overviews of real-time meeting space usage, average room occupancy, which rooms get booked but are often not used, environmental conditions monitoring, and proactive trouble isolation (e.g. noise control).

Within the Control Hub Analytics, IT also has access to the Organizational Health Assessment Tool. This tool provides data for turnaround times for setup, understanding usage and adoption challenges, challenges with deployment, and reducing propensity to churn.

Our Take

The results from Cisco’s global survey in early October showed that 98% of office workers think at least one of their attendees to meetings will be remote, over half are looking to optimize their office footprint, and 96% want intelligent technology to improve work environments.

Cisco is thus hedging its bets that the future of work is remote (or some hybrid model) and is leading the market in terms of smart technology that enables offices to adapt to a post-COVID-19 world. Assuming organizations will hold on to their real estate, the Webex Room Navigator, or other adjacent technology, will be critical to upholding workplace safety and optimizing employees coming in and out of the office.

The success of this hardware is not limited to COVID-19-related challenges, though. Before the pandemic, IoT technology was already trending, seeking to enhance worker productivity by shaping their environment to suit collaboration. As Info-Tech’s 2020 Enterprise Collaboration Tools: Market Trends and Buyer’s Guide outlines, monitoring environmental sensors and molding offices to enable workers to better perform was already being implementing. However, as with most trends in enterprise collaboration, COVID-19 has certainly sped this up.

Organizations that plan to use their offices for hybrid work in the coming year (with intelligent technology listed in their infrastructure roadmaps and budget) would do well to seek a demo with Cisco for its Webex Room Navigator. This is especially if the organization already uses Cisco communications and collaboration.

Source: SoftwareReviews Cisco Webex Teams Scorecard. Accessed: October 26, 2020.


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