The enterprise space has changed dramatically over the past year and a half because businesses and organizations have needed to adapt and overcome the pandemic workplace. The top companies that prospered over the pandemic were those that possessed video calling and collaboration solutions. Google Workspaces and Meet, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, 8x8, and Five9, and Cisco Webex became a key part of how we work and how enterprise is digitally transformed.
This digital transformation has radically transformed how we communicate, and email and IM are not the only top dogs in the digital communication space. Emails are not good at collaboration. They take too long and are too formal. Meetings are the same way, in that meetings have to cater to the collective. Everyone in the meeting has to agree on a time and a place when the time may be across time zones and the place with differing bandwidth or an office.
All of that to point out there is a growing need for even better collaboration. Cisco announced today its asynchronous video messaging solution Vidcast as a platform to “create effective collaboration.” Let’s look at how Vidcast is different and my thoughts on Cisco’s new communication solution.
Not just another social media platform
Vidcast is the first product Cisco releases from its Webex Leap program that adds more “startup-like” product innovations to the Webex Suite. By startup-like, I mean quicker and bolder. I advise and invest in startups, and it’s a very different world. Having a startup inside a large company, on paper, delivers the best of both worlds- funding and stability that business customers want.
Vidcast is an all-in-one video recording and editing tool to share video messages without requiring a live meeting. It has features for tracking views and adding reactions and comments to better engage with viewers for the presenter. Presenters can capture a screen record or video record with light editing capabilities and easy sharing capabilities. It has navigation tools to jump to relevant moments by using thumbnail navigation, chapters, and jump links. I find video platforms that use thumbnail navigation when buffering through a video to be the most useful. I also think it will be interesting to see how the platform does screen recording since the first phase of Vidcast will be browser-based initially.
Cisco says Vidcast has a “knowledge content repository” to organize, distribute, and manage access to videos. It is amazing how much more information you can consume in video versus text or spoken words. Having a content repository with advanced navigation tools for viewers to access the specific content they need is a game-changer. I imagine this being helpful for those few packets of knowledge we all remember but forget the source of and can’t find. Another fascinating feature of Vidcast is that automatic playback is 20% faster than the original recording speed with closed captions on. In having this feature, Vidcast is honing in on how much knowledge we can consume within a short amount of time. Vidcast is about consuming as much knowledge, most likely knowledge you would get from a meeting, as possible according to your personal time and collaboration abilities.
Vidcast is an intriguing idea in that it takes many features that you would either see or expect to be in a social media platform into a collaboration platform. It’s not what I would expect from Webex or Cisco, and that’s a complement as it’s something truly different.
It looks to accelerate collaboration and the speed at which knowledge is communicated, both of which are lagging points for live meetings. Vidcast has great direction in improving collaboration and communication, but I also think it can have its drawbacks. There is a personal aspect to meetings that is deeper than transferring information from one party to the next. Almost every meeting that I have starts with some type of personal greeting. In other words, I think Vidcast can replace virtual meetings to some degree, but I don’t think it can ever replace the classic in-person meetings. Virtual meetings share the same drawback that I just stated but to a lesser degree.
I do see Vidcast having a wide array of use cases from training to tutorials, to sales and product demos, to simply stating a game plan for a team. Cisco has implemented many features that make it easy to upload a video, edit it, and get the content out strategically. It has the foundation of being a collaboration platform first for the enterprise. It’s one thing for a big enterprise to have a team of 1000s of people and get the right information out and address key issues that would otherwise require meetings with team leaders and team leaders with teams.
Vidcast has a couple of key components going for it right out of the gate that I think will make it a successful collaboration media platform(as opposed to social media platform). The first is that it is easily consumable for the viewer and easily presentable for presenters. The second, which is complementary to the first, is that it is time-mindful; it works across multiple timezones and schedules to get knowledge efficiently. The third is that it is interactive with reactions, comments, and emoji embedded into the platform. It adopts a social aspect to be as close to personal interaction as digitally possible.
I’m excited to start using the beta. I think my team at Moor Insights & Strategy could benefit from this platform as well.