Cisco doubles down on hybrid work with new AI-powered collaboration devices

Cisco is making a big bet that hybrid work is here to stay by unveiling new purpose-built devices aimed at modernising collaboration experiences in the office. At this week’s Enterprise Connect conference, the networking giant announced the launch of the Cisco Board Pro G2 and Cisco Desk Phone 9800 Series.

The Board Pro G2 is an AI-fueled, touch-enabled collaboration board designed for hybrid teamwork in smaller meeting spaces like huddle rooms and classrooms. It packs an impressive 96-megapixel dual-lens camera system that provides intelligent, expanded views of in-room participants whether they are up close or further away from the board.

“With AI built in from the ground up, our voice and video devices are changing what’s possible for hybrid workers, delivering tangible outcomes that matter,” said Jeetu Patel, Cisco’s EVP and GM of Security and Collaboration.

The Board Pro G2 leverages advanced image processing for a new virtual zoom capability to extend camera reach in long rooms without degrading video quality. It also offers multi-stream layouts in Webex Meetings that show both an overview of the room and a close-up of the active speaker simultaneously.

Under the hood, the NVIDIA chipset and computing engine enable enhanced video quality, better performance, and more headroom to run web apps for seamless digital whiteboarding, annotation, and integration with platforms like Microsoft Teams, Miro, and Mural.

On the desk phone front, Cisco unveiled the 9800 Series as a personal productivity hub for the hybrid office. These IP phones aim to deliver a personalised experience by allowing employees to reserve desks in advance, see their contacts and calendar, and join meetings with a single tap.

The 9800 phones are certified for secure enterprise calling and meetings through end-to-end encryption. Cisco also emphasised their sustainability cred, with the phones containing over 74% post-consumer recycled plastics.

Both devices integrate with Cisco’s workplace reservation and management tools to provide IT teams with insights to optimise their collaboration infrastructure.

While most vendors have prioritised personal collaboration apps during the pandemic, Cisco is clearly focused on outfitting the hybrid office of the future. By packing AI smarts and intelligent camera tech into new sleek room systems and desk phones, the company is giving customers more choices to untether hybrid workers from traditional video conferencing setups.

Of course, the success of these new collaboration devices will hinge on organisations’ long-term hybrid work strategies actually playing out as envisioned. But Cisco is smart to evolve its portfolio for the hybrid future it sees coming.

Read next: Cisco teams up with Microsoft and Samsung to improve hybrid meeting experiences



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