The Cisco Webex Rebrand

The Six Five team does a deep dive on the Cisco Webex rebrand.

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Patrick Moorhead: Let’s jump into WebEx announcements. Boy, there were so many announcements. It’s hard to know what to choose first. And there was a brand change, but I don’t want to start with that first, because the best brands have to encompass what is actually being delivered and incorporates the value proposition, and hopefully looks out to the future of what end users are not just going to like today, but what they’re going to like tomorrow.

And now let me talk out of the other side of my mouth and say, there was a pretty big brand change. And it’s funny. Brands are different from names, and the iconography and art is different as well. They went from Cisco Webex to Webex by Cisco. And that might seem like… And then Google and Microsoft and how they’re combining, I’ll call it video, with all the collaboration tools.

We have a once in probably a decade opportunity here to reset the chess board. And I really felt like this is what Webex was doing. So they created a new product, which is called a Webex suite, and in that Webex suite, for the same price as you’re getting today are meetings, calling, messaging, events, which are basically a Q&A capability. So they’ve not only pulled in some of their own internal products, but they also very quickly… I mean, I can’t even believe they pulled Socio and Slido in this quickly, but very quickly integrated those into the suite in a transparent fashion.

The other thing that they did is they dramatically lowered the prices of their devices. Now it’s a promotion. It’s not going to be the every day, but there were up to 50% discounts on some of the new products out there. Daniel, you and I used the BAT phone, the Cisco Desk Pro, pretty much every day and are pretty impressed, but it goes all the way down to a WebEx PC camera as well. And everything in between. Video bars for rooms and places for hybrid workers to come in and dock when they come in.

So they’re doing the Webex suite, which is the integration, they’ve done the rebrand, they have a dramatic price increase in some of their biggest hardware, and they created a marketing campaign. I couldn’t get anybody to tell me how much is being spent there, which I always like to know, but boy, I love F1, and they’re partnering with McLaren, hopefully Daniel, you and I can see that in action in October at Circuit of the Americas here in Austin. I felt like WebEx is finally going for it on all cylinders to drive propagation and drive business and preference.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, it’s a good analysis. And we’ll put the Forbes piece in the show notes that you wrote because you, I think, broke it down pretty well. Across the board, there was no bigger winner in tech and collaboration during the COVID-19 pandemic. It brought the technology into the limelight and there were clear winners. Phrases like “the Zoom boom” and Zoom becoming kind of Kleenex for every video meeting was obviously a big winner for Zoom. Microsoft saw growth in the hundreds of millions, but quietly Cisco and Webex really did see some substantial growth, and the product is more established. It had a lot more on-prem implications. The business unit of their collaboration had things like contact center and on-prem and phone that were baked into its number. So it wasn’t always quite as like, hey, how many more people are using the video and chat. So it was never quite as clear.

This rebranding shows a stronger commitment, a stronger desire to make the product more accessible, easier to sign up for, more sassy in its nature for consumption. The companies made a number of key investments. Socio and Slido are two very key ones, upping the ante on the events platform, upping the ante on the real-time integration, and making technology available outside of Webex that is still part of the Cisco family. So now people are using Zoom in Slido. In fact, we just got off a call that we did exactly that. And so now Cisco is finding its way into the fold, even when it’s maybe not chosen for part of that collaboration solution.

If I can layer on one more thing, the teams vernacular really needed to go. From the everyday way it was marketed, it was confusing, because there was two teams. And Webex Cisco is a giant company, should never have to be put in that position, but unfortunately they were up against a $2 trillion market cap titan in Microsoft, who also decided to brand their collab platform with Teams. And I could not possibly have run into more confusion when you’d say Teams too, in the nose, because everyone didn’t know which teams are you talking about. This was a really important pertinent and timely rebrand.

The last thing I will say is, Cisco has a very deep bench of real video equipment. We are heading back into a hybrid work era. Hybrid work means in the office with real collaboration hardware. Pat, you and I talk a lot about Polly. Polly makes this kind of technology. Zoom has slowly moved into it with Zoom rooms, but Cisco is the penultimate in this space. Been around it, acquired Tandberg many years ago for hundreds of millions to bring this exact capability and their desk units, room units, are all over the world, much like Polly, but very good, very robust hardware. And as we do remote and hybrid together, room based systems for training, for education, are going to be important. Cisco has that lineup, has that mix. And of course at the high end, those telepresence, very high end systems, Cisco continues to be one of the dominant players. All right, Pat, I think I’m out of time, check the show notes, read Pat’s article. It’s worth digging into.


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