Listen to this article now
Cisco Live — Collaboration Goes Cognitive and Interoperable
Over the past decade, collaboration in the cloud has been the biggest topic in the collaboration space. This has led to more desktop and mobile collaboration tools that tend to carry an assortment of voice, video, pervasive chat, contact center, and team capabilities. However, the disruptive forces have seemingly been pretty focused on one thing—simplicity. Whether it’s the social communications of WeChat, WhatsApp, or FaceTime, or the more business/enterprise focused tools like Zoom and Slack, they have all taken the collaboration industry by storm because they do one thing that many bigger collaboration solutions have historically struggled to do—they work!
Simple has had its day, and it is now an expectation. The enterprise collaboration companies by and large have caught the disruptors. The likes of Citrix, Microsoft, and Cisco have all built mobile apps, simple chat tools and integrations that overall have brought the desired level of simplicity.
However, as Cisco SVP/GM suggested in her panel session at Cisco Live, “Cisco was asleep on collaboration.” I would actually say all of the legacy players were. Cisco, however, at this year’s Live event shared two recently-launched capabilities that will bring in the future of collaboration, and no, it isn’t another chatbot.
The Future of Collaboration: Interoperability and Cognitive Collaboration
Even more exciting, and valuable, than a chatbot are capabilities like interoperability and cognitive collaboration, both of which capabilities were shared at Cisco Live. Here’s a look —
1. Interoperability. Cisco is continuing to focus on building their stack to be interoperable between their collaboration tools and productivity tools that aren’t part of the Teams environment. A few integrations worth noting include Slack, Google (Gmail), Apple iOS and Office 365. These interoperable capabilities handle everything from document sharing (O365) to launching video calls on Webex Teams straight out of a Slack messaging exchange. The integrations vary in terms of depth, but the chosen partners and capabilities provide the capability for enterprises to operate (and communicate) within different platforms, internal or external.
Here is a preview of the Slack integration with Webex from Mio, which built the connector:
2. Cognitive Collaboration. While early iterations of Cisco’s cognitive collaboration have been showed off in phases over the past several months, including a bigger splash at Enterprise connect, the demo videos AND the fact that Cisco Cognitive Collaboration is commercially available today was probably what grabbed my attention the most.
The process of preparing for meetings, joining meetings, knowing who is in a larger group meeting (facial recognition), and making sure you have the best information available on each attendee right now is a significant effort. Most don’t spend enough time planning to make meetings as valuable as possible. Those who do, spend a ton of time on the prep process. With Cisco’s Webex Graph and the utilization of AI and ML to improve the knowledge set of each attendee, it propels collaboration forward. Even better, these are early days of what is possible.
Check out this quick video to get a sense of what Cisco is delivering with Cognitive Collaboration:
These Are the Makings of a Differentiator
The merging of AI, ML, Analytics, and Collaboration provides boundless potential for more effective meetings. Reducing time spent in meeting prep, having useful customer and attendee information at your disposal and sophisticated facial recognition are a powerhouse combination for better meetings. With the continued growth of the Webex Graph, the quality of the data at the users’ disposal will only continue to get better.
I believe the Webex Graph and the cognitive capabilities that it will enable will give Cisco a level of differentiation that they haven’t been able to clearly create from the likes of Zoom when it comes to ad-hoc and scheduled video and group meetings.
The Cisco ecosystem has always had vastly more collaboration tools (contact center, VoIP, on and off-prem) than many of the upstart cloud players, but in the age where less is more and simple wins hearts, Cisco has needed a wildcard to differentiate their meeting tools.
Cognitive collaboration, bringing analytics to the meeting, has the makings of that differentiator, made better through integrations with the likes of Google, Slack, and Microsoft giving choice and interoperability to users who seek to take a best of breed approach or just don’t seek to shake up things that work in order to add capabilities they want and need.
Futurum Research provides industry research and analysis. These columns are for educational purposes only and should not be considered in any way investment advice.
Image credit: Cisco