Collaboration tools have changed a lot in the last year. COVID-19 may have accelerated this change, but these big moves were coming either way. It’s hard to even remember what the world looked like a year ago.  

Here is a look at collaboration tools in 2021 – from new software to integration upgrades, and more.  

Webex

Cisco is accelerating into the New Year with their unified Webex application concept and is rapidly delivering updates both through internal development and strategic acquisitions that are powering innovations like AI-powered noise cancellation, real-time closed captioning & translations, and next-level audience engagement.

Here’s a quick recap from Webex: “We kept people connected with meetings, messaging, and calling, launched new updates and features, hosted our first WebexOne event, and launched the Webex Community” The Webex Community launched in May of 2020, as a “self-service tool for our users, admins, and adoption champions.”

In 2021, Webex will be hosting three events a month: two Walkthrough Wednesdays – aimed at educating customers and professionals about the latest and greatest Webex tool updates – and one Adoption Spotlight where you’ll hear from Webex customers about their strategies and successes in driving adoption in their teams. 

The 2021 Webex goal is to give their users more “engaging, intelligent, and inclusive experiences.” Users are now able to customize the feel of their workspace with new background color palettes and the ability to tailor their video grids to meet their needs and preferences. And their new immersive share creates a professional, new-program-like experience so that presenters can be seen while also sharing graphics, charts, and other visuals at the same time.

New meeting templates, sophisticated AI-powered message prioritization, and real-time translation are also included in the new Webex software. 2021 will bring a host of new solutions and discussions spearheaded by Webex as they continue to refine and upgrade their collaboration offerings.

Zoom

2020 was the year of Zoom. Zoom’s CEO, Eric Yuan was even TIME’s 2020 Businessperson of the Year. So what are some of the leaps they made in the collaboration tool sector last year, and what do they have in store for 2021?

Zoom lists these services as some of their biggest 2020 highlights: Zoom Apps (brings apps directly into the Zoom experience), Zoom for Home (helps remote workers outfit home offices with Zoom-enabled devices), OnZoom (virtual events marketplace), Zoom 5.0 (most recent update), and End-to-End Encryption (gives users the ability to host meetings that only chosen participants have access to encryption keys used to encrypt the meeting).

According to the company’s Year in Review, “Some of our most prominent features include spotlighting and multi-pinning video feeds, co-host capabilities for managing Breakout Rooms, the ability to use slides as a virtual background, High-Fidelity Music Mode, and Filters, which give our users the freedom to create a more user-friendly, engaging meeting experience. In-meeting security controls, a new security settings section, and centralized controls allow secure meetings at scale.”

As we move through the beginning of 2021, Zoom will continue to churn out value-add upgrades and initiatives to enhance user experience.

Microsoft Teams

The Teams app from Microsoft is the fastest growing business app in the company’s history, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Microsoft Teams collaborative workspace connects all Microsoft 365 apps, creates a great hub for teams of all sizes, and can even be used as an alternative or replacement for email communications. Without leaving Teams, users can access Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other file types in real-time.

Microsoft launched Tasks this year, as a Teams-specific replacement for Planner – it combines the functions of Planner and To-Do apps. They also recently added Lists, which “combines database and spreadsheet features to manage information to plan events, track recruitment, or help onboard new employees.”

Some other 2020 additions include “Together mode” which creates a virtual shared environment (conference room, café, etc.) and crops each user’s video feed into a more realistic space. Other features like noise suppression, custom backgrounds, hand raising, and recording were introduced or enhanced this year.

In December 2020, Microsoft posted a “What’s New in Microsoft Teams” article, listing all of their recent changes that will gain momentum in 2021.

Those new features include:

  •  Virtual Breakout Rooms – allows meeting organizers to divide the meeting into smaller groups to allow for specialized discussions
  • End-of-Meeting Notifications
  • Pre-Join Experience
  • New Supported Languages – enables users to
  • translate Japanese, Korean, French, French-Canadian, Spanish, Spanish-Mexican, Traditional Chinese, Swedish, Dutch, Italian, Hindi-Indian, Portuguese-Brazilian, and Russian into up to 50 different languages
  • Multiple Number Dialing
  • Live Captions for 1:1 Calls

Collaboration Tools in 2021 – Tailored Solutions

2021 is the time to channel all the big move momentum you created in 2020 and refine it to help your business better reach and serve its customers. Explore Meet Me In The Cloud’s managed services and collaboration services.

Whether you need training and education, event assistance, or other collaboration-based support and services, contact us today.

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