Cisco eyes hybrid workforce with new collaboration hardware

Cisco has added to its line-up of collaboration hardware with devices aimed at the “hybrid workforce”. The Cisco Board Pro G2 is a two-in-one videoconferencing and whiteboard device, while the Cisco 9800 Series of desk phones are aimed at hotdesking offices.

The Board Pro G2 comes in two sizes: 55in and 75in. With a touchscreen, two cameras and support for both Webex Whiteboard and Microsoft Whiteboard experiences, Cisco aims to bring easy collaboration to small and medium-sized offices. 

The device uses what Cisco calls “an Nvidia AI chipset” and will use artificial intelligence to cut down extraneous noise in meetings. It also powers face and upper body detection to keep cameras centred on presenters while they’re talking. Cisco claims it can adjust the framing groups of meeting attendees and keep tabs on distant speakers without a dip in image quality, using an “AI virtual lens”.

The Board Pro G2 runs on Cisco’s RoomOS, but you aren’t limited to its videoconferencing services. It also supports Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Google Meet.

Recommended reading: Zoom Workplace AI aims to turn video calls into true collaboration

For additional collaboration, the Board Pro G2 has native Webex Whiteboard and Microsoft Whiteboard software onboard. You can see the Webex software in practice in the photo at the top of this article.

It packs two 48-megapixel cameras with a 112° and 70° field of vision to allow all meeting participants, whether at the head of the table or relegated to a far chair, to be captured on the screen.

Whether you choose the Cisco Board Pro G2 with a 55in or 75in display, you’ll enjoy a sharp 4K resolution. The two SKUs will retail at $13,995 and $22,995 respectively in the US, with UK prices likely to be at around £12,000 and £20,000 (based on prices of the first-gen boards).

It can either be wall-mounted, or wheeled into meetings on its own stand.

Cisco 9800 Series desk phones

Meanwhile, Cisco’s 9800 Series desk phones are aimed at offices where hotdesking is the norm, with features that can be used in a physical office or virtually with cloud services. The phones run on Cisco’s PhoneOS and support Cisco Unified Communication Manager, Webex Calling, Broadworks plus third-party offerings.

Users can check into an individual desk phone phone via a QR code to summon their contacts and call history. The phones can be used for desk reservations and to join meetings with a single button.

The phones also feature a customisable button, which companies can set up for their preferred action. For example, connecting the caller straight to IT support.

Cisco has released four models in the 9800 Series: the 9841, 9851, 9861 and 9871. The spec improves as you move up the range, with the Desk Phone 9841 including a greyscale, 384 x 160 3.5in screen while the Desk Phone 9871 includes a 5in colour 1,280 x 720 touchscreen.  

Cisco has not quoted prices but based on previous models we would expect the 9841 to cost at least $150/£150.

New products announced at Enterprise Connect

The networking giant debuted the devices at this year’s Enterprise Connect conference, which also saw Salesforce and Zoom unveil new products, including additional contact centre offerings. 

According to analysts Mordor Research, the enterprise collaboration market will reach over $60 billion in 2024, and is on track to top $100 billion by 2029. 

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Jo Best
Jo Best

Jo has been writing about technology for over 20 years, and has always been fascinated by emerging technologies and innovation. These days, she's particularly interested in the intersection of technology, science, and human health.