Cisco has released a bunch of products to tap into the growing remote workers market. The company, which earlier this month launched Virtual Office for home workers, is set to release more offerings to tap into the demand for flexible working.
The new releases are in three complementary areas: unified comms, Telepresence videoconferencing system and the WebEx collaboration platforrm.

"We're addressing some key trends towards flexaible working", said Tim Stone, Cisco's head of collaboration solutions for Europe. "We at Cisco have already embraced collaborative working and have changed the way that we work on projects. He said that there was a growing demand for flexible working among organisations and that the new Cisco products were well set to meet this demand.

Stone said that the enhancements to Unified Communications would offer users a greater deal of interoperability with other business applications. "We'll be offering integration with Microsoft's OCS and with Sametime from IBM. In addition, we'll be supporting devices from various mobile providers including Nokia, RIM and Microsoft Mobile"
He said that some of the new features were bring IM-type functionality to mobile phones. "For example," he said."Users will be able to set their status to indicate to the friends whether they are available to talk or not.

Stone said that Telepresence Expert on Demand was aimed at organisations such as banks who had branches in rural areas where there wasn't enough demand for a mortgate broker or a shares advisor to be permanently stationed on the premises. Using Telepresence, potential customers would be able to talk to such an expert remotely. Stone added that the company had also had queries from educational establishments as a potential teaching tool.

The third strand of the launch WebEx Connect is a new software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that combines, instant messaging, web meetings with web 2.0 business applications. Stone explained that this would provide plenty of opportunity for collaboration, through IM or VoIP. He said that Cisco's recent purchase Jabber would be integrated with the WebEx in the future and last month's purchase of PostPath would bring calendaring and email functionality to the product.

Stone said that he had not seen the research that pointed out the organisational problems that teleworking could bring. He said that it was important that make the relevant cultural changes with an enterprise to benefit from the technology. "It's important to build up a feeling of inclusion, building up trust within a team. You start with working face-to-face and then start moving to forms of collaborative working," he said.