Mercedes-Benz To Offer Webex In New E Class Cars
Work from office, work from home, work from coffee shop and now, work from car? A new partnership announced Monday between Mercedes-Benz and Cisco offers the option of taking meetings while on the go or temporarily parked. It’s a bit like Zooming while you’re zooming, only instead using Cisco’s Webex meeting app.
Making the announcement at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, the companies are calling it the “optimal mobile office experience.” Using either on-board WiFi or a cellular connection, the Webex Meetings and Calling app will be available for download from the Mercedes-Benz Car App Store in 2024 Mercedes-Benz E Class vehicles when they arrive this spring.
Users can then access the Webex app from the infotainment touch screen, bypassing the need to connect by mobile phone.
“Hybrid work is centered on the work you do, not where you do it – whether it’s in the office, home, car, or anywhere in between,” said Jeetu Patel, Executive Vice President & General Manager, Security & Collaboration, Cisco in a news release. “The mobile office cannot progress without the reliable and secure collaboration technology that only Cisco can provide. This partnership with Mercedes-Benz, a leader in automotive luxury, marks a big step forward in delivering the flexibility that the hybrid workforce demands.”
Don’t expect to participate in on-camera meetings while driving, however. While the vehicle is in motion meetings and calls will be limited to audio only, according to the companies. The full “immersive experience” including video, automatic AI-powered transcription, content sharing and reactions, such as a thumbs up or celebration emoji, isn’t available unless the car is parked, the companies said.
The partnership with Mercedes-Benz is part of Cisco’s Webex for Automobiles and follows last year’s announcement of a collaboration with Ford Motor Co. integrating Webex Meetings with the automaker’s Ford SYNC 3 AppLink. Just as in the case with the Mercedes-Benz integration, drivers must park to participate in meetings using video.
As another enabler to hybrid work, Cisco’s Move to Mobile eliminates one big excuse for pulling out of a Webex meeting you’re attending from home on an Apple Macintosh desktop computer—the need to hop in the car to get to another appointment.
By integrating with Apple CarPlay, iPhone users scan a QR code from their Mac, then resume attendance in their vehicles. Cisco says an Android integration is in its plans.
“It’s clear that the automobile industry recognizes the value of hybrid work and our vision to further support people working on-the-go. Together, we are transforming the car into another extension of the office; truly reinforcing that work is not where you go but what you do,” wrote Aruna Ravichandran, SVP & CMO, Webex by Cisco in a blog post published Monday.
While the ability to participate in a meeting when on the go may be an attractive option, the fact remains doing so falls under the category of distracted driving, which includes listening or speaking on a cell phone call along with texting.
The latest figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show 3,142 people died due to distracted driving in the U.S. in 2020—the year the Covid-19 pandemic reached the U.S. and working remotely took hold due to health concerns.
“You cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has your full attention. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing,” NHTSA wrote in a report on distracted driving.
Despite those known risks, there’s no turning back—especially in the case of conducting work activities remotely. While many businesses are requiring employees to return to the office at least a few days a week the ship has basically sailed on the pre-pandemic paradigm of spending eight hours a day behind a desk at a workplace and attending meetings in person.
By disabling the video for meetings while a vehicle is in motion, Cisco is providing a service much in demand, while limiting availability of an element potentially most distracting to a driver until the car is parked.