“We’re all familiar with Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant—virtual assistants that help you save time and get things done at home like check the weather, turn on your TV, set a reminder, or summon your car from the garage. These products are great in your personal life, but what about at work?” asks Cisco’s GM & VP, Jason Goecke.
In the simplest terms, the Cisco Webex Assistant, is at its most fundamental a ‘Siri, Google assistant, Alexa, or Cortana’ for businesses, streamlining meeting management and calling facilities. The product uses the robust Webex graph to offer faster, smarter, and more enriched data, by deploying artificial intelligence in a manner, which Cisco says, could empower every interaction, every call, meeting, or conversation.
This year, technology major Cisco made headlines with full-sweep rebranding initiative. All Cisco Systems collaboration tools will now come under the Webex suite, including their popular teams and meetings applications. Interestingly, Webex Meetings inherits most of its functionalities from Cisco Spark, and Spark Assistant has been re-envisioned as Webex Assistant.
NVIDIA is Cisco’s AI partner, and the Webex Assistant could turn out to be a game-changer, with its ability to deliver solid and seamless assistance for business communications.
Demystifying the technology behind the product
The Cisco Webex Assistant is meant for enterprise-grade functionalities, with a focus on ease-of-use and productivity, totally relying on voice commands.
Here are some of its key features:
- Starting & recording meetings
- Joining & leaving meetings
- Extended and easy navigability and device control
- Meeting notes capture
- Locating, retrieving, displaying documents
- Screen sharing
- Whiteboard tool activation
- Conference room availability management & booking
Over time, Cisco intends to expand the product’s capabilities, and add new features and upgrades. With AI, it’s always important to offer and interface that merges seamlessly with daily activities, allowing users to perform all tasks via voice – and Cisco’s big focus on AI is a move in this direction.
Last year, Cisco purchased conversational AI startup MindMeld for $125 million, in a bid to support and strengthen its collaboration systems. An early avatar of Webex Assistant was borne out of this acquisition. The newest version would be gaining updates that extend its functionalities, and allow compatibility with a larger number of platforms, including Cisco’s cloud-connected Webex Room Kit and Room Series devices.
Opinions – why the Cisco Webex Assistant is the ‘new normal’
At the core of Cisco’s new offering lies a commitment to collaboration and partnerships. With the Webex assistant one can enhance project management, action a greater sense of order and planning to daily tasks, and boost efficiency – all with the power of a voice command.
Initially, MindMeld Co-founder Timothy Tuttle found it challenging to configure MindMeld’s technology to work with Cisco hardware. However, clearly defining the command set and leveraging Cisco’s hardware setups (such as multiple microphones) made it easier to pick up voices in a room and implement the voice recognition algorithms.
This, obviously, unleashes a certain level of speed, efficacy, accuracy and workplace optimisation that is imperative to most companies, in a dynamic and rapidly-changing business landscape. The Cisco Webex Assistant delivers this vital transition, in a manner which is tangible, real and on-ground. It is an exciting moment in technology for synergistic purposes, and the future looks resplendent with possibility.