Marketing TechnologyCollaborationQ&A with Cisco on the growing collaboration market and Webex

Q&A with Cisco on the growing collaboration market and Webex

Cisco’s VP and CMO of Collaboration Aruna Ravichandran spoke to us about the company's part to play in the rapidly growing collaboration market. 

The advent of new technologies is revolutionizing the way we work. Worldwide organizations have multiple teams in different locations all working on the same projects – something that was almost unthinkable a mere thirty years ago.

At the heart of this increased connectivity is the collaboration market. We discussed the industry at large with Aruna Ravichandran, as well as chatting about exciting innovations the future may hold.

Your background seems to be a blend of computer engineering and marketing. How do you think these two fields complement each other?

Aruna Ravichandran: I began my career in engineering. I spent about ten years in the high availability labs at HP, where I grew into a director role – it was an amazing and really fun job.

But having said that, while I was in that position, I was always very tuned to the voice of the customer. So, ten years into a very successful engineering career, I decided to move over to the business side.

As an engineer, you understand the products and the pain points that the products are trying to solve. Marketing gave me the opportunity to take any kind of complex technology, simplify it, and position it in a way that becomes very appealing to the underlying customers and prospects.

During my career, I’ve been very grateful to have an engineering background. It’s easy for me to go into any vertical, understand the technology at a deep technical level, and then leverage my experience in marketing.

Tell us a little more about your current role?

AR: Currently, I am the CMO for Cisco’s Collaboration business unit.

My day-to-day responsibilities involve running everything from brand to demand generation. I’m responsible for all of the campaigns that we’ve recently launched, responsible for the demand generation engine, which covers digital, social, events, and programmatic.

I also play a very strategic role with our PR team in order to be able to bring the customer voice into everything we share with the market.

Why is the collaboration market so promising?

AR: Collaboration as a whole is a multi-billion-dollar market. The numbers alone are exciting, but the idea that collaboration will be changing the way people work is more exciting.

With the entrance of Gen Z, the workforce is evolving, and the nature and style of work is changing. There is explosion of unstructured work and agility is need of the hour. There is demand for integrated technology across business process so that teams can be more agile and make decisions faster. Where you work is becoming irrelevant and the gap between the physical and virtual workspace is blurring.

People are at the center of all this and technology is paving the way for this transformation. The market today is dynamically changing at an unparalleled speed with new innovations across the whole collaboration spectrum. Audio/video conferencing is changing with voice recognition, facial recognition and voice transcription.

Teams are working and ideating on team collaboration tools and co-creating on smart whiteboards. Employees can work from anywhere, at any time, using collaboration tools. Contact center agents can provide more personalized service to customers using all analytics tool at their disposal.

With all these advancements, collaboration market is at the precipice of disruption and there is a huge potential for companies to innovate.

What do you see as Cisco’s role in the collaboration market?

AR: Cisco is at the center of this disruption. We are innovating across the spectrum with new enhancements and devices. For us, people are at the center of all these innovations. We want to simplify their lives by creating market leading collaboration technology that people love and can use anytime, anywhere, that is secure, smart, scalable and simple to use.

We provide enterprise-grade security across the entire portfolio and have a 360-degree approach to it. We also deliver an open platform that meets rigorous security standards. We have developed a collaboration ecosystem that is open and inter-operable.

We can also scale easily. As more and more companies expand and go from being a small or medium-sized business to a large-scale enterprise, our Webex portfolio grows with them. We have 200 million monthly users on our platform. We have 500 million meeting minutes per month, and an annual 125 billion meet-minutes are hosted on our platform.

We are providing users simplicity by giving them the option to join using a single button. We have created smart experiences for people by infusing AI across the board in our products and solutions. From facial recognition, people insights, people count, voice recognition, multi-language transcription, noise detection, in room analytics, diagnostics and more. We are leading the market with cognitive collaboration that is centered around people.

Where else do you think AI will have a great impact on the collaboration market?

AR: Think about functioning without your phone in today’s world, it’s difficult to imagine right? Phones have become an extended part of our brain and they augment our ability to think faster.

Similarly, AI will help humans focus on adding value by augmenting and enhancing the human ability to work. It will help in automating mundane tasks for employees and enabling faster, smarter work styles. It will provide the right information, for the right people at the right time, to build stronger human connections and help teams work smarter together.

Think about every person having their own digital assistant. This assistant will help you to join meetings, transcribe meetings, schedule a follow up meeting, assign tasks to different people on the meeting, open a document for you to share in a meeting, provide information about the people who are going to join the meeting etc.

Another area where AI is going to have a great impact is around providing unparalleled experience to customers.

As per Accenture, 75% customers today are more likely to purchase from a company who knows their name and purchase history, and recommends products based on their preferences.

To do all this, we need a strong back end contact center solution that uses AI so that agents can provide this level of detail to the customers.

Do you have any other particular innovations that you’d like to share with us?

AR: While delivering on our promise to have AI embedded across our portfolio, we recently acquired Cloudcherry to improve customer and employee experiences.

With CloudCherry, Cisco is augmenting our contact center portfolio with advanced analytics, rich customer journey mapping and sophisticated survey capabilities that all our customers can use – whether they’re using Webex Contact Center in the cloud, or our hosted and on-premises solutions.

And with more than 17 integrated feedback channels available, CloudCherry can help us better understand and enrich the agent and employee experience as well! CloudCherry’s predictive analytics and journey-oriented solution helps companies understand the correlations between various factors that influence customer experience.

Predictive analytics help agents make journey modifications in real-time, such as up and cross-selling and enabling discounting or couponing to meet customer needs during the interaction, to improve first contact resolution and customer satisfaction.


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