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< 26 March 2020 >

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Welcome to another Unified Communications, Collaboration & CX Tech News roundup hosted by Isabel Blakemore, Presenter & Tech Journalist here at UC Today.

In a world wracked by worries around global epidemics, countless companies have been forced to re-think the way they operated. We’ve seen a massive boom in video conferencing and remote working over the last couple of months, and various leading industry events have been placed on hold as entire countries ward off infection.

Yet, despite the panic, there’s still growth happening in the UC space. Companies are continuing to evolve, and some are even introducing new features.

RingCentral, leaders in the world of communication, collaboration, and contact centre technology  are this month’s headline sponsor. Across March we’ve been covering all things about Contact Centre and CCaaS, so be sure to check out all our latest features and news stories by visiting our Contact Centre category.

Here are some of the biggest stories from the last few weeks.

Coronavirus Causes Tech Event Cancellations

Coronavirus is having an enormous impact on the world that we live in. Beyond panic buying and a general atmosphere of concern, we’ve also seen more people working from home than ever before, an influx in video conferencing, and the cancellation of various leading technology events. Cisco Live! one of the biggest communication conferences of the year was supposed to take place in Melbourne Australia at the beginning of March. However, the event organisers were forced to cancel the conference due to worries about attendee safety.

Elsewhere, Facebook has cancelled it’s developer conference due to rising COVID-19 concerns, and other notable tech companies, including LG, Amazon, and Intel all pulled out of the Mobile World Congress Event before it was cancelled not long ago. Read the article for more information on any events coming up and whether or not they’ve been impacted by COVID-19.

Cisco Loses 2 Top Executives

Worldwide infections are just one of the things that leading collaboration and communication company Cisco has to worry about. Recently, the storage powerhouse, Western Digital snatched up CEO, David Goeckeler, to replace the company’s Steve Milligan, who announced his impending retirement in November 2019.

At the same time, General Manager and EVP of Cisco Collaboration tools, Amy Chang, has also stepped away from her role at Cisco for a while. According to Chang, she’s taking a “leave of absence,” but no information has been provided on how long she’s going to be away for, or whether she’s even coming back.

5G Will Change Collaboration Technology

Collaboration technology in the modern landscape gives today’s employees the opportunity to connect to the workplace from anywhere – even using mobile devices. However, in the past, the connectivity of those devices have sometimes left something to be desired. Fortunately, according to guest blogger, Rob Doucette, the VP of Product Management at Martello, that could be about to change.

Martello’s blog on UC Today highlights the growing potential of 5G as a solution for delivering next-level collaboration in the digital workforce. According to Rob, 5G will help to keep every employee more seamlessly connected when working outside of the office

Lifesize and Serenova Partner Up

It’s not all bad news in the UC sector right now. Lifesize, one of the biggest communications companies in the world today, recently announced an upcoming partnership with Serenova. With Lifesize’s UCaaS technology, and Serenova’s state-of-the-art offerings in Contact Centre as a Service solutions, the two businesses will soon be delivering a combined stack, serving 10,000 customers.

According to both Serenova and Lifesize, the partnership makes a lot of sense. Not only do both of the businesses have a strong commitment to improving customer and employee experience, but they both share very similar values too. Going forward, the two brands can’t wait to produce something revolutionary for the communication space.

Slack Launches New Development Tool Home

Slack recently introduced developers to a brand new “App Home” feature – a solution that takes the text-based nature of coding and makes it more visual and accessible to coders. The App home feature first appeared in Beta at the developer conference “Spec” last year. As of now, however, Slack has said that the tool is generally available for everyone to explore.

Slack hopes that the new solution will help to clean up the developer experience with useful tabs where developers can sort through information. The visual interface will also allow developers to interact with apps, creating custom greetings and triggers for their teams. The App Home could be a powerful new functionality for Slack’s developer user base.

The Video Conferencing Market is Booming

If there was a silver lining to be found among all the COVID-19 panic, it would be in the fact that more companies than ever before are now embracing video conferencing technology. While many businesses have talked about remote working and video for a while now, the rise of coronavirus has forced more organisations than ever before to put their collaborative tools to the test.

Experts in the industry agree that VCaaS technology is finally getting in its moment in the spotlight, during a time when travel bans are preventing people from flying across the globe to meet with crucial stakeholders and colleagues. (You can read all about the uptick in video conferencing companies in our latest news story here. )

Zoom Launches New Waiting Room Feature

Aside from reporting a significant increase in sales over the last few weeks, Zoom has also had other news to share about its evolving video collaboration platform. The company recently revealed that it would be taking a more proactive approach to overcoming security and privacy issues in modern meetings with an in-built waiting room feature for it’s users.

The new Waiting Rooms solution by Zoom will give users a virtual space where they can wait to be approved by the host of the meeting. Available through Zoom Meetings, hosts will have the option to customise the messages that appear in their meeting rooms, as well as the title, logo, and more.

Let’s Explore the Google AI Meena Chatbot

Ready to get real with your chatbot functionality? If so, then it’s definitely worth checking out the latest updates to the Google Meena chatbot. The AI solution is designed to create an entirely natural conversational experience between customers and employees, with 2.6 billion parameters for discussion training. Google also announced that Meena is capable of creating conversations that feel more specific and organic than any other chatbot on the market today.

What makes Meena special is the arrival of the new Sensibleness and Specificity average created by Google. According to the team, this metric makes it easier to measure and create more natural conversational experiences.

Cisco Jumps Back into Extended Reality

The concept of different realities mingling in the meeting room isn’t exactly new in the communication space. For a few years now, we’ve seen numerous market leaders experimenting with the concept of VR and AR for enhanced interactions between businesses. However, Cisco seemed to be taking something of a backseat on the project after the Spark Project fizzled out in 2018.

According to a blog post by Elizabeth Bieniek, however, the passion for mixed realities is still very much alive within the Cisco team. Bienek, the Director of Collaboration Innovation has told customers to “watch this space” as Cisco continues to embark on a mission to bring incredible new realities to companies of all shapes and sizes.

Microsoft Demolishes Revenue Expectations

If you had to list the top companies destined to crush their revenue and growth expectations over the last year, Microsoft would likely come at the top of that list. Unsurprisingly, the technology giant has reported that its stock prices are continuing to rise, following the publication of Microsoft’s second-quarter fiscal report.

According to the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, Microsoft is continuing to innovate across every part of its robust tech portfolio, including communication and collaboration. Microsoft Finance Chief, Amy Hood, also noted that the company’s exceptional growth comes down to the incredible performance of its sales team, and partners, who helped to drive commercial cloud revenue up by 39% year-over-year. Check out the full report here.

What’s your favourite story from the last few weeks?

How is your company dealing with the stress of the coronavirus outbreak? Let us know in the comments section or get in touch on social media!

 

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