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Advancing Collaboration in the Digital Era: Cisco’s Vision with Shannon Leininger

In an insightful interview with CanadianSME Small Business Magazine, Shannon Leininger, President of Cisco Canada, shared Cisco’s latest innovative strides in reshaping the future of work. She highlighted the company’s focus on solutions integrating devices, AI, and customer experience, emphasizing their alignment with Cisco’s vision of transforming work and collaboration dynamics in the modern world. Shannon discussed the introduction of the Webex App for Apple Watch and Apple TV, underscoring how these technologies enhance remote and hybrid work experiences. Additionally, she touched upon Cisco’s partnership with Bang & Olufsen for the Cisco 950 earbuds, tailored for the needs of hybrid workers. Shannon also elaborated on Webex’s new AI strategy, aimed at improving communication and collaboration in remote settings, and the Room Kit EQX collaboration solution in partnership with NVIDIA, designed to create seamless meeting experiences for both in-person and remote participants. Her insights provided a comprehensive overview of Cisco’s commitment to advancing technology in support of evolving work environments.

As President of Cisco Canada, Shannon proudly leads a diverse and innovative organization that consistently ranks among Cisco’s top markets globally and acts as a proving ground for some of the company’s most advanced and leading-edge technologies. She is an innovative, entrepreneurially-minded leader with a long-term view on vision and strategy who believes that great results come from careful planning. Shannon believes that in order to help Canadian organizations accelerate their digital journey, there must be a commitment to solution innovation, world-class technology architectures, and a relentless dedication to mission success. be a commitment to solution innovation, world-class technology architectures, and a relentless dedication to mission success.

Cisco has unveiled a range of innovative solutions spanning devices, AI, and customer experience (CX) to support organizations in reimagining the future of work. Could you share the motivation and vision behind these innovations and how they align with Cisco’s commitment to transforming the way we work and collaborate in the modern world?

The modern workplace is hybrid by nature. With this as our guiding principle, we created solutions focused on meeting the increased demands of employees who expect more from their workplace experience. Today,  81% of Canadian employees  say flexible work policies directly impact whether they stay at or leave a job so it’s important that we actively listen to the needs of our people if we want to retain our top talent. That means creating seamless meeting experiences for all participants, secure and intuitive technology and thoughtful use cases that address what’s important to employees and employers. We want workers to have the flexibility to choose how and when they collaborate. It’s part of our commitment to making work easier and more inclusive for everyone.

Can you tell us more about the Webex App for Apple Watch and how it enhances the remote meeting experience? How does it fit into the broader strategy of making remote work more accessible and efficient?

Cisco’s  Webex App for Apple Watch  is a game-changer for remote work. This new integration gives users the ability to check their upcoming meetings and join them with a single tap. They can also listen and participate in Webex meetings with their Apple Watch and AirPods – hands-free. This means Webex users have the accessibility to participate in their workday no matter where they are, including while they’re on the move. Ultimately, we want to empower workers to remain engaged regardless of where they choose to work from and the devices they prefer to use.

The Webex App for Apple TV with tvOS17 seems like a game-changer for meetings. Could you explain the key features and benefits for businesses and remote workers, especially those who have embraced a hybrid work model?

This new integration brings meetings to the big screen. Whether workers are joining from the office or their living room, it makes meetings more accommodating and accessible for everyone. It also simplifies the joining process – allowing workers to scan a QR code to join, and even use their iPhone or iPad cameras and microphones to participate. Simply put, it supports workers and businesses as they engage on their terms.

Advancing Collaboration in the Digital Era: Cisco's Vision with Shannon Leininger

Cisco recently announced a partnership with Bang & Olufsen to create the Cisco 950 earbuds. How do these earbuds cater to the needs of hybrid workers, and what sets them apart from other audio solutions in the market?

Right now, there’s a clear need for tech products to meet consumer’s unique needs. To better support hybrid workers, our  new earbuds with Bang & Olufsen  are customized specifically with remote work in mind – an approach that sets them apart from other earbuds on the market. This includes a headset that’s equipped with Cisco’s cutting-edge security protocols that can isolate the user’s voice while canceling out background noise – without compromising on comfort, design, and battery.

Webex’s new AI strategy seems promising in addressing the challenges of hybrid work. Can you elaborate on how the Real-Time Media Model and AI Audio Codec in Webex improve communication and collaboration for remote teams?

Effective communication is about more than just text. With our  Real-Time Media Model , we can process multiple media streams, including people and object recognition, action analytics like movement and gestures, and audio and video to bring deeper context and richness to meetings, while offering real-time insights. In addition, our AI Codec in Webex will solve the challenge of audio quality. It’s a technical innovation that allows for massive transmission redundancy to recover from network packet loss which means even if you’re in a car, a remote area, or a hotel room with spotty internet, you get crystal clear sound.

Advancing Collaboration in the Digital Era: Cisco's Vision with Shannon Leininger

The Room Kit EQX collaboration solution in partnership with NVIDIA aims to create seamless meeting experiences. How does it leverage AI and advanced technology to bridge the gap between in-person and remote participants in meetings?

Cisco’s Room Kit EQX  redefines meeting rooms by making it feel like everyone is there, even if they’re joining from home. It delivers the industry’s most capable AI and machine learning platform, enabling 20x the AI capabilities of previous generations. The integration of video devices supporting AI and machine learning is critical to ensuring the longevity of investments made to deliver hybrid work experiences.

Contact center updates with AI-powered capabilities sound interesting. Could you explain how these features contribute to improving both agent wellbeing and customer experiences? How do they help businesses in providing better support in a hybrid work environment?

Stress and burnout are common within contact centre employees. That’s why we’re excited about our AI-powered contact centre updates and the insights they can provide to contact centre staff. They can detect signs of burnout, prompting breaks and even offering real-time coaching for contact centre agents after tough customer interactions. As more and more businesses embrace hybrid work, tech tools like this are a lifeline for companies looking to keep their workers healthy and engaged.

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