At the Enterprise Connect 2017 conference today, Cisco unveiled several new additions to its Spark videoconferencing platform that are designed to make them more affordable to deploy in smaller rooms.
Angie Mistretta, senior director of collaboration marketing at Cisco, says the Cisco Spark Room Series are designed to attach to an existing high-definition (HD) screen that is already installed in a conference room. Mistretta says that the goal is to make it economically feasible for organizations to access Cisco videoconferencing and collaboration services delivered via the cloud in a conference room designed to comfortably fit seven to 14 people.
“We’re trying to lower the upfront costs,” says Mistretta.
The Cisco Spark Room Series follows the launch of a larger Cisco Spark Board offering earlier this year. The Cisco Spark Room Kit is priced at $3,990 plus $99 per month subscription. The Room Kit Plus will be available in May for US $7,990 plus a $99/month subscription. A Companion Mode offering, intended to combine a Cisco Spark Board and Spark Room Kit for larger rooms, will be available later this year.
Mistretta says Cisco is making a case for an enterprise-class approach to collaboration via a cloud service that can be accessed from everything from a mobile computing device to a display residing in a conference room. The fundamental difference, says Mistretta, is that the Cisco Spark service encrypts all data, while still leaving the IT organizations in control of the keys needed to provide that encryption. In addition, Mistretta notes that Cisco has published an application programming interface (API) through which it is encouraging developers to create applications that would embed the Spark cloud service.
Given the continued decline in productivity for the past decade, there’s a lot of interest in collaboration these days. There is some sense that videoconferencing combined with collaboration tools should make teams of people more productive. The problem is that there’s not much consensus in terms of how best to go about achieving that goal.