Cisco has bundled Webex video meeting, calling, messaging and other capabilities into a single suite that the company said costs 40% less than buying the services a la carte.
This week, the company launched Webex Suite, pitching it as a necessary communication package for a workforce that is part remote and part in-office. Industry observers said Cisco's pricing strategy is to get attention from businesses planning on a hybrid workplace when offices closed for the pandemic reopen.
"They're really trying to focus on, 'Hey, we've got a great value here,'" Technalysis analyst Bob O'Donnell said.
The new pricing could also attract companies that see Webex as legacy technology trailing highly successful relative newcomers like Zoom.
"Cisco's biggest challenge is getting people to try Webex again," said Zeus Kerravala, founder of ZK Research.
Cisco executive Jeetu Patel said the company expects 98% of future meetings to have at least one remote participant, compared with only 8% before the pandemic. Therefore, companies need a tool suite to ensure that they treat remote workers equally with in-office employees.
Upcoming Webex features aimed at helping remote employees in a hybrid workplace include technology that blocks background noise from family members and pets. Cisco plans to add the capability, called My Voice Only, in August.
Also launching this year is a feature called People Focus, which places each meeting participant in a separate video frame, rather than showing in-office workers as a group. The use of individual frames makes it easier for remote workers to read their colleagues' facial expressions and body language.
Cisco has aimed other features coming soon to Webex at users holding virtual events of as many as 100,000 people. This month, the company will add audience polling software from the recent acquisition of Slido.
Eventually, Cisco will add event ticketing and registration features from Socio Labs. Cisco announced the acquisition of the startup in May and planned to close the deal this year.
Mike Gleason is a reporter covering unified communications and collaboration tools. He previously covered communities in the MetroWest region of Massachusetts for the Milford Daily News, Walpole Times, Sharon Advocate and Medfield Press. He has also worked for newspapers in central Massachusetts and southwestern Vermont and served as a local editor for Patch. He can be found on Twitter at @MGleason_TT.