Cisco Collaboration Gets A Turbo Charge With AI, Machine Learning


Cisco Systems is injecting artificial intelligence and machine learning into the infamously-too-complicated meeting experience.

Cisco's on-demand video conferencing and collaboration platform WebEx has been updated with several common user pain points in mind. These enhancements will make it easier for users to join meetings, learn about who they are meeting with, and get up to speed on the meeting agenda, Keith Griffin, CTO of Cisco's Team Collaboration Group, told CRN.

"It's all about reducing boundaries and making a seamless overall collaboration experience," Griffin said. "We knew there were ways to make that better using machine learning and analytics."

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On Monday, Cisco introduced People Insights, a new feature that serves up real-time profiles of meeting attendees. The feature uses AI and context to search the Web and company directories to find the correct, up-to-date information about a person, even if that person has a common name. People Insights is available as a trial, with general availability planned for April, according to Cisco.

"We wanted to create a more dynamic environment that was more contextual for meetings," Griffin said. "We wanted everyone to be able to see the most up-to-date professional information about people attending the meeting, and about their companies."

Cisco also thought of regulations such as General Data Protection Regulation ( GDPR) and personal preferences when creating People Insights, Griffin said. All information is editable by users or hide their profiles completely.

Cisco Webex's Web Assistant, a personal assistant feature, has also been updated to include Proactive Join, the ability to enter a meeting upon walking in a conference room or huddle space using intelligent proximity technology. First Match was also introduced, a feature that uses machine learning to determine who a user is most likely trying to call based on who an employee speaks to most often in their Webex Teams spaces. Both proactive Join and First Match are available now.

"The idea is to speed up those interactions of joining meetings, and in the future, scheduling meeting and having the [Web Assistant] do those kinds tasks so we can get on with the meeting instead of the administrative tasks," Griffin said. "The only thing better than having on button to push is having none at all."

Coming this June is Facial Recognition, a feature that can attach name and title labels to employees during a video meeting, an especially powerful option for large meetings, Griffin said.

Users have the ability to opt in or out with the new Facial Recognition Webex feature, Griffin said.

The latest updates will give partners not only new features to talk to their customers about, but the ability to transform their customers' businesses and change attitudes about collaboration, Jay Weisblatt, global partner manager for Cisco collaboration, said.

"It really opens new doors for partners and customers for new workflows and new conversations that they weren't able to have with the previous product," he said.

Cisco said that Webex is used by 130 million users a month.