Hosting an online meeting should be a simple, secure and productive experience. Too often, though, it’s overly complicated.

Where today’s collaboration technologies fall short

A lot can go wrong when using everyday collaboration solutions such as VoIP calling, video conferencing and screen sharing. The issues range from complex interfaces and long dial-in numbers/PINs, to problems with service availability and connection quality.

It all adds up to considerable time wasted simply trying to start and participate in an online meeting. One study estimated that 15 minutes were lost on the average conference call to delays and various distractions.

Meetings already take up a considerable chunk of everyone’s calendar – two full days weekly for senior executives, and 15% of the entire organization’s time. Given the considerable time investment, improving the experience can pay major dividends.

So what’s the best way to make them more manageable? Cognitive collaboration is a promising candidate.

What is cognitive collaboration?

This term refers to the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning into Cisco platforms such as Webex. AI-enhanced collaboration solutions can unlock benefits for:

  • Mobile and remote workers, who constitute a growing share of the workforce and need reliable ways to stay in sync with each other.
  • Contact center workers, who face the prospect of more complex customer interactions across multiple engagement channels (voice, text, email, etc.).
  • Customers and partners, who seek easier connections with companies at any time and from any location.

Before we get too far into this subject, we should define a few key terms.

AI is the broad field of computer science concerned with creating programs that can perform tasks that traditionally required human intervention. With AI, systems can make real-time decisions based on data pulled from multiple sources and possibly adapt to changes in those sources and in the requests made by end users.

Machine learning is a subset of AI. It applies to types of AI that can learn much like humans do, by making inferences and recognizing patterns based on previously seen patterns.

Adding these two technologies to a platform like Webex can greatly improve collaborative workflows.

Enterprise Voice Assistant (EVA)

For example, let’s say you need to join a meeting right away and don’t have time to jump through the normal hoops of navigating multiple prompts or keying in a lengthy number. The Webex Assistant feature allows you to use the platform much like an intelligent voice-operated assistant (e.g., Alexa, Siri, etc.) and join by saying something like “OK, Webex, join Jane’s meeting.” Cisco’s 2019 acquisition of Voicea, the company that created the Enterprise Voice Assistant (EVA), will surely pave the way for even more practical Webex and Cognitive Collaboration capabilities.

Other commands are available during the meeting itself, for accepting or rejecting calls, adjusting the volume, and putting yourself on mute. Similar conversational functionality also exists within First Match, which can interpret commands such as “Meet with Jose” by looking through Webex Teams spaces to find recent and relevant interactions to find the right match.

Imagine another situation, where you’re on a call with someone but feel like you’re in the dark about who they are. People Insights gathers information from internal directories and combines it with web search results to create a rich profile of meeting attendees.

Cognitive collaboration in the context of cloud technology

Cloud computing services make it easier than ever for people to connect with each other across devices and locations. But cognitive collaboration provides an extra boost for overcoming some common cloud-related hurdles, whether that’s building context around multichannel interaction in a cloud contact center or sharing the correct version of a document in an online meeting.

To see the difference it can make, consider these two statistics:

  • 6 in 10 contact centers use 7 or more systems to interact with customers.
  • 40% of them manually integrate their data with spreadsheets.

By implementing cognitive collaboration technologies such as virtual assistants, real-time analytics, and chatbots, it’s possibly to analyze information on customers, partners, and colleagues much more efficiently, resulting in smoother and more productive meetings.

As an experienced Cisco partner, LaSalle Solutions can help you get the most from cognitive collaboration solutions, while also staying on top of your full IT environment via our cloud-based LAMP platform. To learn more, contact a member of our team today.

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