Cognitive Collaboration and the New Webex

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Cognitive Collaboration and the New Webex

Remote collaboration has transformed beyond recognition over recent years, and the technologies which enable it have removed much of the friction for which it used to be known back in the days of spider phones. We now expect to collaborate fluidly across multiple vectors with partners anywhere in the world, and to be able to hop on calls with each other as easily as having a quick chat in the corridor. But in reality there can be all kinds of friction, from logistics to cross-cultural confusion and communication issues.

Enter the AI to help

Cisco’s Cognitive Collaboration Initiative is designed to smooth away all the obstacles to connecting online both internally and externally, and leverages a range of smart features. Something as simple as ‘proactive join’ functionality on the Webex Assistant prompts people to start and join meetings on time using calendar and location-based triggers, perhaps saving moments in the individual day, while making a serious impact across the enterprise in aggregate. Cisco’s 2017 acquisition of MindMeld helps bring the AI layer to these triggers too – identifying who you’re most likely to mean if your schedule says something like ‘call David in UAE’, the natural-language processing can identify exactly who David is and how best to reach him right now.

Once you’re in the meeting, it doesn’t matter if you or David move around the room, because facial recognition will keep track – to ensure natural continuity and make sure you get everybody’s names right, while the technology gets out of the way of the conversation itself.

Intelligent Insight

Andrew Williams

Andrew Williams

It can also help you connect more deeply with David on a personal level too, using a feature called People Insights in Webex meetings – (currently US only but other markets coming soon). As Andrew Williams from Cisco’s UK collaboration division explained, this feature is very helpful when working with Agile teams in a global enterprise, which often brings distributed colleagues together for short-term collaborations:

“It quickly paints a picture for you, not just of where he sits within the organisation, but whatever else he’s put in the public domain. It builds rapport really quickly if you can see the blog post he wrote about his favourite football team, what he’s thinking about.” When everyone is too time-constrained for small talk, it’s easy to see how this could add value and richness to the team.

“It works equally well for people outside your organisation too, scanning for real time updates that the person has put into the public domain, out there on their digital footprint”

“It’s more use in sales than looking at a LinkedIn profile which might be out of date, for example”.

Intuitive Client Service

Not only can the system quickly update you on what’s going on for your client individually, it can help enhance the value of any call by upskilling the agent on the fly in an intelligent and responsive fashion – as Williams explains, “It’s coming in a few months time, but we’re connecting contact centres into real-time analytics engines – so for example if an incident is mentioned about a particular washing machine, information about that specific model is immediately fed to the operator on the call. It delivers a much richer customer experience”.

It’s also a game changer for critical incident response.

“If we link the Webex platform to smart IoT devices then depending on events we can instantly build up a room and embed the necessary people in the call, in response to something like a pipe burst or water leak”

The future is smart…

Williams concludes, “Over the next few years, automation is just going to continue, we’re embedding more analytics and data hardware, putting more sensors into endpoints, from smart buildings to natural language.”

Cognitive collaboration then is all about connecting the humans in the communication with just the right information at the right time, to deepen that interaction and add maximum value to each conversation.

The future is AI-enhanced, and richly connected, whoever we need to talk to.


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