Mobile, Social, Visual and Virtual: Cisco Unveils Even More Ways to Collaborate For Customers in the Middle East

July and August may be a time for taking time out from the busy day-day work agenda’s, but small business owners in the Middle East can’t afford to be away from the office for long. To make the most of work and personal time, many plan to work remotely, on average, 18 days this summer, according to a new Cisco WebEx® survey of small business owners.

Cisco WebEx Study Highlights:

  • Fifteen percent of those surveyed intend to work remotely 36 days or more. Almost half of small business owners plan to work remotely for at least two weeks before the summer is out, the survey showed.
  • Summer or not, nearly one-fourth (23 percent) of the respondents said their companies rely on telecommuting, and more than one in 10 (13 percent) reimburse employees when they buy laptops, mobile phones or tablets.
  • It appears many respondents prefer working remotely to avoid hassles and inconveniences often associated with traditional office meetings. In addition, respondents claim their biggest pet peeves about in-person meetings are that they run longer than planned (29%), and are hard to organize because of conflicting schedules (25 percent).
  • The survey was conducted for Cisco by Wakefield Research between June 6 and June 14 2012, involving the owners of businesses with 100 or fewer employees. The poll has a margin of error of 4.4%.

“The survey results demonstrate the extent to which telephone and video conferencing have become ingrained in the work habits of small business owners, since nearly half of the survey respondents say traditional, in-person meetings are becoming less relevant,” said Wael Abdulal, Collaboration Manager, Cisco UAE. “It’s clear small business owners need to stay “connected” to the office, even during the summer vacation season, and so we are giving our customers in the Middle East the tools to not only meet, but also easily and efficiently manage content relevant for those meetings wherever they happen to be.”

Introducing New Cisco Solutions for More Ways to Collaborate

In order to make it easier for people to collaborate anywhere, anytime and on any device Cisco has announced a set of new solutions and developments which will be ideal for remote workers. The new solutions which are focused on unified communication, a next generation of online meetings, as well as social collaboration include:

Cisco Unified Communications (UC) Release 9.0

  • A new Cisco Unified Communications Manager feature called Extend and Connect works with Cisco Jabber™ and is designed to bring any third-party phone—including phones at hotels, airports, convention centers, or even far-flung places like offshore oil rigs into the Cisco UC environment. With Extend and Connect, telecommuters and business travelers can simply input the phone number of their preferred voice device into a Jabber® client running on their Windows PC, and Cisco Unified Communications Manager will route all voice traffic directly to that phone number. This allows the worker to use any third-party phone – old or new, analog, digital or IP – but get the experience of using a full-featured enterprise phone, so they can enjoy all the communications services they have at the office while they’re on the road, such as presence, IM and click-to-call. Extend and Connect can maintain excellent voice quality at all times without being dependent upon the quality of the broadband link.

The Next Generation of Cisco WebEx Meetings:

  • Next Generation Cisco WebEx Meetings give workers an easy way to collaborate directly from Web applications they use every day The enhanced Cisco WebEx Meetings Spaces help users manage the complete meeting lifecycle, including preparations, conducting and following up on meetings. This includes easily accessing and collaborating on files and presentations in the cloud from their PC or mobile device in real time, scheduling meetings and share agendas, notes, action items, recordings and any other relevant documents at anytime.  There is also an integrated instant messaging client as well as two-way HD video and Voice over IP (VoIP) on mobile devices. WebEx Meeting Spaces are delivered through the Cisco WebEx cloud with Enterprise-grade security, as well as high availability and scalability levels. Cisco WebEx Meetings have been downloaded for mobile devices more than three million times, and on average 31 million people attend a WebEx meeting per month.  Cisco recently announced that it was extending the reach and appeal of WebEx Meetings by introducing a free version, which supports up to three attendees in a meeting. WebEx Meetings runs on most popular computing devices, including Apple and Android mobile phones and tablets.

Social Collaboration

  • Social collaboration is bringing social capabilities, well known from the consumer world, to the devices and applications – including email and business productivity applications – that workers use most often. Cisco WebEx® Social (formerly known as Cisco Quad™) helps employees share knowledge, find experts and information and form effective virtual work teams. WebEx Social unifies social and real-time collaboration solutions – like video, voice, instant messaging (IM), presence and web conferencing — into a single, integrated user experience. With this release of WebEx Social, Cisco is introducing new browser-based video calling, where people can seamlessly escalate to a high-definition (HD) video conferencing session, without going to a separate application. These sessions are compatible with a wide variety of video endpoints, including Cisco TelePresence®, IP video phones, mobile and soft clients. WebEx Social also offers a deeper integration with WebEx conferencing. Users can view, join and start meetings directly from the WebEx Social personal calendar.

“In today’s supply-chain driven economy, communication and collaboration across teams and companies are key. Also, employees are asking for solutions for mobility and collaboration, while companies are looking for cost-efficient ways to make such technologies available. With the start of summer, mobility is becoming even more important for employees. Latest solutions in communication and collaboration allow business people in the Middle East to stay connected, be able to participate in meetings, take decisions without delay, whilst giving them the flexibility to work anywhere, from multiple devices,”  added Wael Abdulal.