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Enterprise Connect 2023: Live from the Show Floor Conversation with Webex by Cisco’s VP Solutions & Product Marketing Geoff Huang

In this episode of our Live! From the Show Floor Video Series, here at Enterprise Connect 2023 in Orlando, Futurum’s Shelly Kramer sits down with Geoff Huang, VP Solutions & Product Marketing for a quick catch-up on Webex by Cisco’s many announcements this week.

This included:

  • Webex’s devices portfolio driving re-imagined workplaces
  • The ability to create a meeting room out of any space with meeting zones
  • Changing a collaboration space into an AI-powered meeting zone to help remove distracting background noises
  • Cisco’s exciting vision for the future with Cinematic Meetings — think of a conference room equipped with multiple cameras controlled with powerful video intelligence capabilities
  • Optimized collaboration delivered by Cisco’s Webex Suite

Geoff also shared thoughts on what’s happening from an industry perspective and some of the insights he’s gained over the course of the last few days at Enterprise Connect.

We wrapped up the conversation talking about AI, the current buzzword du jour, and some thoughts on what customers should think about when leveraging AI for collaboration or customer experience solutions.

Watch the conversation here:

Or listen to the audio here:

Connect with Geoff Huang on LinkedIn here, and if you and I aren’t yet connected on LinkedIn, find me here.

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Transcript:

Shelly Kramer: Hello, I’m Shelly Kramer, Principal Analyst here at Futurum Research, and today we are coming to you live from the show floor as part of our video series. We’re at Enterprise Connect 2023 in Orlando, Florida. I’m joined today by Geoff Huang. He is the VP of Solutions and Product Marketing for Webex by Cisco and we are going to chat today about some of the exciting things that Cisco announced at Enterprise Connect. Geoff, welcome. I’m so glad to have you.

Geoffrey Huang: Thank you. Glad to be here.

Shelly Kramer: Absolutely. Absolutely. So we just saw Snorre, giving the keynote, lots of things to be excited about. Talk with me a little bit about some of the things, and I know it’s a long list-

Geoffrey Huang: It is a long list.

Shelly Kramer: Talk with me a little bit about some of the things announced this week?

Geoffrey Huang: Yeah. So Snorre, fantastic job. Lot of energy, brought it on stage and really the announcements that we had were focused on the unrivaled experiences that Webex celebrated. We really, really have been focusing a lot on making sure that regardless across our entire portfolio, we’re delivering unrivaled experiences and so we think about this in three buckets. We think about this in terms of our re-imagined workspaces, which is our devices portfolio and Snorre had some pretty cool things to show. He had what we call meeting zones, which is the ability to create a meeting room out of any space. You can define a collaboration space into a meeting zone, which is pretty cool, AI powered.

Shelly Kramer: And this helps with background noise?

Geoffrey Huang: This helps with, if you think about an open collaboration space where you have maybe a Webex board, and you want to create that into not just a collaboration space for the people there, but remotely as well, there could be a lot of distractions behind, so it’s don’t want to hear the noises behind you, but also very importantly, you don’t want to see things that are going on behind you as well. So you can create this virtual defined boundaries to create a meeting room out of that.

Shelly Kramer: I really like that.

Geoffrey Huang: And this was kind of the lead up to a really exciting vision for the future that we’re calling Cinematic Meetings that he announced and so if you can think about, almost like in a conference room when you have multiple cameras, almost as if that you had an AI director calling the shots, camera three, camera one, camera two, to make sure that people who are talking are always framed the best, even if you’re turning around suddenly or if you’re having a side conversation. So that’s a really exciting glimpse into what some of our video intelligence capabilities is going to deliver soon.

Shelly Kramer: Yeah, that’s really exciting.

Geoffrey Huang: Yeah, I’m pretty excited about that. He also talked about optimized collaboration, which is delivered by our Webex Suite, and a lot of really cool things to talk about there. Again, just on the background and the work that Webex has been doing around purpose-built AI for collaboration, we talked about super resolution, which is a really neat thing and he had three images that were side by side by side 1080P video that comes out of the camera, but in a lot of cases, the video is downscale to 270P, particularly if you’re in low bandwidth situations. If you were to zoom that up, it looks super blurry but with our AI super resolution, we’re able to get that backup to 1080P with a crystal clear image and on the slide that Snorre had, the super resolution actually had better definition and better clarity. It was a crisper image than the original, which is was-

Shelly Kramer: Okay, well, that’s kind of mind blowing.

Geoffrey Huang: It is and it speaks to the innovation and the work that we’ve been doing at Webex for decades on AI, so it’s pretty awesome there and that really set the stage for a bunch of other capabilities that we have. There’s an auto be right back mode. So if you’re in a meeting and you stand up and you walk away, we have the ability to detect that you’ve left and so we’ll automatically blur the camera and have a little, be right back, and when you come back to the screen, we’ll automatically un-blur the camera.

Shelly Kramer: It’s just seamless.

Geoffrey Huang: Totally seamless and I mean, how many times have you been in a situation where-

Shelly Kramer: I do it all the time.

Geoffrey Huang: Yeah, that was really cool. Some improvements to our 3D gestures just for more inclusivity in the way people communicate and then the third bucket was around our customer experience solutions, so our contact center, our CPAS, and there the announcement was our vision for the future, which is what we’re calling the Self-learning Contact Center. So really applying AI and our understanding of not just audio intelligence, video intelligence, but also a lot of the work that we’ve been doing in natural language understanding to go, to really start to understand body language, if you think about a virtual contact center scenario. So a lot of neat things that are coming down the pike. There was a lot more that I didn’t cover, but those are the highlights and those are some of the ones that are, as I was working on the launch, the ones that really stood out to me as, that’s going to be pretty awesome when we release it.

Shelly Kramer: Yeah. Well, I think that it goes without saying, even though I’m going to say it, that AI has kind of been a word that you can’t have any conversation with anybody at the show without the topic of AI coming up and I’ve had some other conversations with some of your colleagues, and one of the things that I get coming out of my conversations with Webex, the Webex team, is that first of all, AI is not new for you.

Geoffrey Huang: That’s right.

Shelly Kramer: And it’s not the latest, greatest thing that just come down the pike and I feel like purpose-driven AI is the right path to go right now and it doesn’t mean that we can’t be excited about ChatGPT and all of these other players and all the other capabilities and everything else, but AI for AI’s sake isn’t necessarily, especially in these early days of that kind of generative AI, I think it’s kind of a little tricky situation, but I really, again, AI isn’t new for you.

Geoffrey Huang: It is not.

Shelly Kramer: And so I enjoy hearing the conversation, the things you’re talking about, where you’re talking about AI really driving these experiences and making them more meaningful, more valuable, more productive.

Geoffrey Huang: So you’re right. I mean, the generative AI, ChatGPT, I think the reason why there’s so much buzz around it is because there’s so much immediate mass appeal, not just to us in the industry, but outside the industry it really sparks the imagination, but when it comes to collaboration, there’s actually a lot of different problems that could really benefit from AI, and you can’t just integrate with an API to deliver these. It takes a lot of hard work and a lot of experience to really go and build this experience over time. So it’s not an overnight thing. It’s not a flash in the pan that you can just say, “Okay, well we have integrated-”

Shelly Kramer: No, no. Plug this in.

Geoffrey Huang: Exactly. So it takes a lot of expertise and again, it can’t just be for the sake of doing AI to say, oh, we’ve got AI. It has to be in service of something, in service, in our case of delivering unrivaled experience. So, yeah, thanks for calling that out.

Shelly Kramer: Yeah, no, I think it’s really important. So let’s talk about, we’ve been here forever. I mean, three days, two days. It seems like that, right?

Geoffrey Huang: It feels like forever. Yeah.

Shelly Kramer: It’s funny when your whole days are 30 minute meetings, 30 minute meetings, keynote 30, minute, it does… It’s a long day, but it’s great because there’s a lot of things going on. So what are you walking away from this show with? What kind of conversations are you having? What kind of trends are you seeing? What’s the most interesting?

Geoffrey Huang: What I’m taking away is a real sense, a real understanding, particularly amongst the users, the decision makers, that the conversations I’ve had that there’s an understanding that in 2020, 2021, there was a big rush. We all had to get everybody online. That’s fine, but after reaching that sort of minimum bar, now we are a very, very end user… The experience of the end user counts for a lot-

Shelly Kramer: As it should.

Geoffrey Huang: As it should and IT organizations have this all the time. Adoption is a big issue. If the things that they provide, the tools that they provide aren’t great, people don’t use it, what’s the ROI? So what I’m taking away from the last couple days is a real acknowledgement that focusing on the user experience, what is it like and what is it like for the end user is front of mind, top of mind, front and center, is what I meant to say for more and more and that’s just so encouraging to hear, not just as somebody who’s working in the industry, but also as an end user myself, it really feels good.
So I think that a lot of the conversations I’ve had just really focus on what does it take to deliver the best experiences and I’m not just talking about the quality of the video or the quality of the audio, but also what does the fall experience like and you’ve experienced this, I’m sure, but everyone who works at Webex or at Cisco will say, you just have to experience like Webex. You have to be in front of it. You have to come to our booth. You have to see what it’s like and then you have this aha moment where you’re like, “Oh my gosh, this really is so much better.” So that is stuff that I’ve been really excited about, just experiencing that.

Shelly Kramer: Yeah, absolutely. So for my last question, I’m going to go back to the topic of AI and if you are talking with someone or someone who’s listening to or watching this conversation and they are thinking about whether it’s contact center, whether it’s collab, whatever it is they’re thinking about and they’re thinking about this AI business, everybody’s talking about it, what should I do, where should they start? What should they be thinking about?

Geoffrey Huang: My advice is think about the problem that you’re trying to solve. What are the use cases, what are the drivers that are pushing you in your organization to think about some kind of technology investment and then do the investigation, what can AI offer there and then that’ll lead you very quickly to figuring out who has really invested heavily in this, right? Again, going back to what I was saying, doing AI right is really, really hard. It’s not just making sure that you have the right data scientists or machine learning experts to create the code. Of course, that’s important, but think about the things like how do you manage this, what about privacy and what about security and particularly organizations are really concerned about security like how do you make sure-

Shelly Kramer: As they should be.

Geoffrey Huang: As they should be, right? So how do you make sure that the models are really protecting your data as they should be? So it, again, captures an imagination, a lot of this generative AI discussion as it should, but dig into it and think about what would it be like to deploy my organization and that is a really important thing to talk about.

Shelly Kramer: And what success looks like, what we’re trying to solve for. I spent a lot of my career as a strategist, so it is really about, technology is not the answer.

Geoffrey Huang: No, it’s an enabler, right, its a supporting.

Shelly Kramer: It’s part of the answer and so figuring out what we’re trying to solve for, what technology solutions are the best technology solutions, what vendor partners are the best vendor part, all of those things are part of the equation.

Geoffrey Huang: A hundred percent, yeah.

Shelly Kramer: Yeah. Absolutely. Well, Geoff Huang, thank you very much for spending time with me today.

Geoffrey Huang: Thank you for having me.

Shelly Kramer: Great conversation as always and I look forward to diving into some of these new announcements and enhancements, and it’s going to be terrific.

Geoffrey Huang: Awesome. Thank you.

Shelly Kramer: Absolutely. To our listening audience, thank you for hanging out with us, and we’ll see you again next time.

Author Information

Shelly Kramer is a Principal Analyst and Founding Partner at Futurum Research. A serial entrepreneur with a technology centric focus, she has worked alongside some of the world’s largest brands to embrace disruption and spur innovation, understand and address the realities of the connected customer, and help navigate the process of digital transformation. She brings 20 years' experience as a brand strategist to her work at Futurum, and has deep experience helping global companies with marketing challenges, GTM strategies, messaging development, and driving strategy and digital transformation for B2B brands across multiple verticals. Shelly's coverage areas include Collaboration/CX/SaaS, platforms, ESG, and Cybersecurity, as well as topics and trends related to the Future of Work, the transformation of the workplace and how people and technology are driving that transformation. A transplanted New Yorker, she has learned to love life in the Midwest, and has firsthand experience that some of the most innovative minds and most successful companies in the world also happen to live in “flyover country.”

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