Six Ways Cisco Webex Beats Microsoft Teams

Six Ways Cisco Webex Beats Microsoft Teams

The work-from-home period of the COVID-19 pandemic has taken collaboration tools from “nice to have” status to an essential business application. The end of the pandemic has businesses wondering if they still need collaboration apps.

The reality is that few companies will bring all employees back to the office five days a week. ZK Research found that 51% of employees plan to work from home two to three days a week and 24% at least one day a week. This indicates that three quarters of the workforce will be hybrid.

It is important to understand that hybrid working is distinctly different from remote working. Remote work requires a great collaboration experience in one place, while hybrid work is about creating that great experience across different locations. Collaboration tools obviously play a key role in this regard.

This raises the question of which collaboration provider to use. The two heavyweights in this industry are Cisco Webex and Microsoft Teams. From an experience standpoint, I find Webex to be significantly better. When I ask companies why they continue to use Teams, I get answers like “It’s included in our Microsoft license, and it’s good enough for most users.” The teams were used despite the retreat of the workers. In this case, the IT pros made the easy decision; Microsoft makes it compelling from an upfront cost as Teams is free with the Microsoft E3 license.

I would argue that in a hybrid working world, good enough is actually not good enough, and IT pros need to fully understand the differences between the two platforms. The license cost advantage that Microsoft brings is well understood, but I have found the advantages of Webex to be less well known. Indeed, much of the innovation in Webex has taken place in the past 12 to 18 months.

Cisco Systems is hosting its WebexOne virtual event later this month, where the company will showcase this innovation. Since the event is fast approaching (October 25-26), I thought it would be helpful to write an article highlighting many recent innovations, so that attendees can look for new features and capacities.

Based on the research I’ve done, below are six areas where I think Webex trumps Teams. Most of them can be experienced on WebexOne.

1. Transparent collaboration inside and outside the company

Webex and Teams are effective in allowing workers to communicate with other employees in the same company. However, Webex does a much better job with external collaboration. I experience this daily when I make a Teams call with another company. With Webex, users retain the functionality associated with their corporate accounts, whether internal or external. With Teams, guests lose access to their company’s services and can only access a limited set of features. It can be very frustrating for users when chat or other features are available at certain times but not at others.

Additionally, Webex is much faster to start when video meetings are taking place. It is built on a shared microservices architecture, while Teams is a wrapper around several legacy solutions. In a recent Teams call, it took nearly a minute for the video meeting to fully load, whereas with Webex it’s always seconds.

2. Integrated software and hardware

I get that hardware isn’t as sexy as software, but hardware definitely matters. In the consumer space, Apple has a big experience advantage over Android because it manufactures the hardware, software, and cloud backend itself. The same goes for Webex on Teams, as Webex manufactures purpose-built collaboration devices with common software that provides a secure, high-quality experience. Teams rely on third parties, leading to inconsistent capabilities that result in a scattered experience with multiple security vulnerabilities.

Webex devices also have several built-in features, such as background noise cancellation, virtual backgrounds, and an auto-panning camera. It’s important to understand that Cisco designed the devices to be multi-vendor so that Webex devices can natively run Teams meetings as well as Zoom and Google meetings.

3. Business calls

Contrary to what many people think, calling is not dead. People are still making calls and will continue to do so for decades. Webex Calling has a marked advantage in providing telephony for about 20 years longer than Teams. In fact, when customers add Teams Phone, the cost advantage of “free” disappears; Microsoft’s calling plans quickly become very expensive. Also, Teams Phone lacks several important calling features like call merging, call recording, etc.

Another issue is that Teams Phone is built on a separate platform from Teams Chat, which can lead to disjointed experiences. Webex has built call, meeting, messaging, and contact centers on a common cloud platform.

A workaround for Teams is to use a third-party solution, such as Webex Calling, to provide calling functionality for Teams. In general, almost all United Communications (UC) providers will provide a superior telephony experience over Teams Phone. But this approach can add unnecessary complexity and integration challenges.

4. Integration with existing applications

Given Microsoft’s history as a platform provider, Teams’ weakness in app integrations is a bit shocking. With Webex, the integration is two-way; it can run in other apps and other apps in Webex. Teams only supports one-way integration, which limits user choice. Webex provides open APIs for calling, meetings, messaging, and devices to easily integrate with third parties, while Teams is much more limited.

One example is Webex’s two-way integration with Salesforce, which minimizes context switching. This allows customers to use Webex Messaging or Calling directly within Salesforce. Microsoft has a competing product from Salesforce and has always been reluctant to create tight integrations with competing products.

An irony with Teams is that third parties, such as Webex, work better with other Microsoft apps than Teams itself. Businesses can run Webex in Microsoft Apps; this is not the case for Teams.

5. Simplified management

IT pros should be aware of this because it impacts their work: Webex Control Hub is a single dashboard for all collaboration workloads, including meetings, calls, messaging, contact center and devices. Teams only supports software management; devices must be managed by their third-party manufacturer.

Since Cisco owns Webex, it has extensive real-time network and security troubleshooting capabilities and provides visibility into quality metrics, usage, security, and environmental data. Teams lacks real-time notifications or alerts for meetings in progress, which puts IT pros in firefighting mode more often than not.

6. Specialized experiences

Collaboration tools are not limited to meetings. They are now used for events and other experiences. Webex has full hybrid event capabilities for up to 100,000 attendees. Teams is limited in this area and not suitable as a large event management tool. Additionally, Webex has a comprehensive cloud contact center for customer engagement. Microsoft has released a guidance statement here, but currently has no products. Another recent specialized application is the Webex Vidcast product for asynchronous video (video messaging).

I want to clarify that this was my experience; each company must make its own assessment. Given the importance of collaboration tools, decision makers should not make a choice based on the license. Use the following as a checklist when selecting the right collaboration provider:

  • Find a product that enables seamless collaboration with people outside your organization.

  • Look for well-integrated software and hardware.

  • Integrate specialized use cases and adjacent applications, including cloud contact center, large event support, and audience engagement, into the solution.

  • Look for a solution that offers comprehensive enterprise calling, which remains a business-critical application.

  • Insist on a solution that can easily be integrated with existing applications, which will make collaboration easier and more widely adopted.

  • Make sure the solution has a comprehensive single interface to help you manage and support your users.

  • Consider a solution that can scale smoothly with your organization, control access as needed, and meet all employee workflow needs.

  • Ensure the solution meets the needs of all workers, regardless of their technical abilities, whether they require special needs accommodations to perform their job, or any other factors that may limit inclusiveness .

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