Thanks to Cisco’s new Big Green Button, users can now easily schedule a meeting and then join with one click, from any device and any location. Jonathan George, MeetingZone’s Cisco Webex pre-sales consultant provides the full background on this game changing enhancement to the online meeting experience.
Removing the barriers to “One Button to Push” (OBTP)
In my previous blogs, I’ve focused on breakthrough technology so that you can now take part in any Cisco Webex meeting from any location via any device.
And not before time either. It’s the least users should expect. They don’t care about technology. To them, it’s just a meeting.
So that’s great. But what about the bit before this – the scheduling of a meeting and joining it at the designated time? That’s not so great. It’s fiddly and varies according to which device or type of meeting you’re joining.
If only users could easily schedule a meeting and then push one button on their device or room system to join. But hang on, don’t we already have this? Well yes…kind of. For those of us brought up in the word of online collaboration, One Button to Push (OBTP) is not a new concept.
But the barriers to entry to make OBTP work were high, as you’ll see further down in this blog. Now, I’m glad to say, Cisco have removed those barriers with the launch of the Big Green Button.
Previously in the world of conferencing and collaboration…
We all know how to schedule a meeting. Open up your Outlook calendar, create a new meeting request, pick the time, invite the attendees and send it off.
If the meeting was a Webex meeting then the linkage between your Outlook Calendar and Webex was achieved via the Webex productivity tools, an Outlook plugin. This added the Webex meeting details to the meeting request.
There are two potential problems here. Firstly you had to be using Outlook (so that the Webex plugin could do its stuff) and secondly you needed to be online so that the plugin could connect to the backend Webex service in order to get the meeting details to populate the invite.
Not so good.
If the meeting was going to use a physical room then you might be able to add the room to the meeting invitation as a resource to book it out.
If that room was video-enabled then you knew the video endpoint would be able to join the meeting.
Typically, to do this you would dial the SIP address of the meeting from the endpoint, or you might launch the Webex client on your laptop and request a video call back. Or, if you were really advanced, you would use the magic of “Proximity” from your mobile or the desktop app to join the meeting, using the room system you were paired with.
Sounds good if you’re a techie…
As techies, we get used to SIP dialling, video call back and even Proximity to join a meeting.
If you’d previously invested in Cisco Telepresence equipment and had on-premise TMS/XE (the management suite together with Exchange extensions), then when scheduling meetings, it had long been possible for the endpoints to display a "Join" button, which was simply pressed when the time came to join.
So, yes, One Button to Push (OBTP) is nothing new and has been something Cisco customers have traditionally enjoyed. But there are a lot of “ifs” mentioned here and it’s hardly been a consistent experience. And it was complex for IT to enable it.
What the non-technical user really wants to do is walk into the room when the meeting is scheduled to start, and press a button to join.
Now scheduling and joining meetings is even easier with the Big Green Button
With the ability to register video endpoints to the Webex cloud platform, a different way to deliver this OBTP functionality was needed. Enter Hybrid Services, specifically the Hybrid Calnedar Connector. This delivered the connection between your Exchange environment and the Webex cloud, not via a client plugin, but via backend server integration.
However, it required an Expressway-C instance on-premise to "host" the connector and manage it. For organisations that were fully cloud, this presented something of a hurdle to implementation. Recently though, this has all come together and in a much simplified manner for organisations that are cloud first (like us here at MeetingZone).
Although, I have been around this technology for many years and in prior jobs experienced OBTP - this recent implementation has transformed (and simplified) my experience to the point I wonder how I had ever manged without it.
Implementation is now achieved via simple cloud configuration (see for yourselves on YouTube). In fact so simple that I was talking to customer who had been waiting for this. Within 10 minutes, he had configured it up and sent me a meeting invite with the details populated using the Hybrid calendar service.
So what's the experience now?
Let's first take the scheduling experience. Now when I want to schedule a meeting I am not restricted to Outlook - if I'm mobile or out of the office I can schedule the meeting using the calendar on my phone.
How is this possible? There's no Webex plugin for the Outlook calendar! When I schedule the meeting I simply type with @webex or @meet into the Location field of the meeting invite.
If I type @webex then when the appointment is stored in my Outlook Calendar, the hybrid calendar service is made aware of the meeting and adds my Personal Room meeting details to the appointment.
If I type @meet in the location field then a Webex Teams space is created with all the attendees for the meeting added and the meeting details for that Team space added to the appointment - so giving us a space to collaborate before the actual meeting and a place to follow-up after the meeting has happened.
This experience is the same if I’m scheduling the meeting on my laptop using Outlook. I simply add @webex or @meet to the location field of the invite.
That's all I need.
Welcome to the Big Green Button (BGB)
When it's time for the meeting I used to have to rely on Outlook Calendar reminders and then go and find the meeting details/link in the body of the appointment. Now whether I'm using the Webex Teams client, the new Webex desktop app or a video device the Big Green Button (BGB) appears to join the meeting. I simply press that and I'm in.
If in the original meeting invite I had included room based video systems as resources, then at the time of the meeting the endpoint would also display the BGB. To join the meeting I would simply walk into the room and tap it.
The Big Green Button experience is consistent across all Webex clients and devices. So when it's time to join press the BGB - that's it. No dial-in, no host code, no participant number.
One button is all it takes to start or join the meeting.
Try the Big Green Button for yourselves
Find out or yourselves how easy it is to join meetings with the Big Green Button. Our state of the art Cisco Webex Customer Experience Centre is in central London and fully equipped with the latest Cisco collaboration devices, all featuring the Big Green Button. Click here to request a demo.