Cisco upgrades Webex to take on rivals in a booming market

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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As it targets a greater share of the booming online collaboration market, the American technology conglomerate Cisco has updated Webex, its video meeting software, introducing new features such as background noise cancelation and a transcription service.

At present, Webex has more than 600 million meeting participants, almost double the number it registered in March before a massive shift to online working, learning and socializing was ignited by the coronavirus pandemic.

According to data, rivals Zoom and Microsoft, with its Teams apps, have both added millions of users, with the global video conferencing market estimated to hit $9.2 billion by 2027 from $4.8 billion in 2019.

By acquiring tech companies like US-based BabbleLabs which has revolutionized the communication among humans and machines by enhancing speech quality, Cisco has been able to add features to Webex, such as being able to remove background sounds like a vacuum cleaner.

“They’ve created a machine learning model for any background noise which can be detected and suppressed, and then speech actually gets amplified,” Jeetu Patel, Cisco’s general manager for security and applications business, said.

Way ahead

He said in the next three months, Webex is planning to launch many other features, including one that will allow a speaker to be transcribed in real time into 15 different languages. Cisco also aims to create an event platform to meet the demand for online business conferences, enabling users to organize a Webex event session with up to 25,000 fully participating attendees initially and 100,000 eventually.

Cisco recently acquired Slovakia-based Slido, which engages audiences with real-time feedback, dynamic polls, quizzes, word clouds and surveys, to make the events platform more interactive. “We fundamentally believe that how people engage with large groups of people will change, and as a result, you will see us do more and more innovation in that space,” Mr. Patel said.

The company also launched three new hardware devices, including a Webex desk hub, which allows an employee returning to an office after the pandemic to sign in from any desk by using a laptop, badge or cell phone to authenticate identity.