The San Jose-based networking and cloud collaboration giant pours millions into developing CX capabilities on its Webex platform by buying two European companies.
Networking giant Cisco slipped out two major announcements just before kicking off its annual collaboration event WebexOne. The tech titan, which has been on the collaboration block for a while now, has always been a few steps behind entrenched rival Zoom, touted as a poster child of video conferencing. Now, with Javed Khan at the helm, Cisco Webex intends to seize a sizable stake in the burgeoning Video-as-a-service (VaaS) sector.
On Monday, the San Jose-headquartered company revealed bringing the London-based IMImobile, customer interaction provider into the fold. The deal, finalized at $730 million, underscores Cisco’s intent to drive the Customer Experience as a Service (CXaaS) market by creating a solution “that gives businesses a platform to provide delightful experiences across the entire customer lifecycle journey.”
“A great customer relationship is built on consistently enjoyable interactions where every touchpoint on every channel is an opportunity for businesses to deliver rich, engaging and intuitive experiences,” said Jeetu Patel, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Security and Applications business.
Customer experience has always been a core business function. A recent study by Shep Hyken spotlights 96% of customers will leave a brand for poor service, while 62% will shell out more for a product if it translates to better customer service. The study posits that customer experience edges out product and price as the key brand differentiator.
With the IMImobile acquisition, Cisco has positioned itself for the $8.5 billion customer experience (CX) market. The European cloud communications software maker will bring enhanced interactive channels such as social media, messaging, and voice to allow businesses to connect with customers. Cisco will also gain new big-name clients such as AA, Best Buy, BT, Capitec Bank, Centrica, EE, Hermes, IHG, Mercedes, Orange, O2, Vodafone, and Walgreens.
Jay Patel, CEO at IMImobile, said, “We believe there will be a world of dynamic, always-on connections between global businesses and their customers and the combination of our respective technologies will enable us to make every interaction matter more for our clients.”
Besides IMImobile, Cisco plans to keep up in the video conferencing race with rich audience interaction technology (think polls). The company added Slovakian audience interaction technology provider Slido to the Webex family. Slido’s audience engagement platform currently has over 7 million users.
The interactive elements in Slido include real-time feedback (for the speaker) where the audience can pitch in their views. They can also ask questions, participate in polls, surveys, answer quizzes, word clouds, etc. The questions can also be upvoted or downvoted based on individual preferences, making it easier for the moderator to pitch the most relevant or sought after answers to the speaker.
Referring to Cisco’s Global Workforce Survey, which found that 98% of employees expect more people to join meetings and conferences virtually, Abhay Kulkarni, VP & GM for Webex Meetings, said, “Companies are rethinking how they maintain bonds, foster culture and make virtual experiences with employees, sales and customers―on small and large scales―inclusive and better than in-person interactions.”
During the Q1 2021 earnings call, Chuck Robbins, CEO at Cisco noted, “Our focus is on winning with a differentiated innovation portfolio, long-term growth and being a trusted technology partner for our customers. Over the last few quarters, we’ve successfully adjusted to new demands by making necessary changes and shifts within our business. We remain closely aligned with our customers to provide them with the mission critical technology they need to stay resilient and move towards adopting new hybrid work models.”