If you want a glimpse into the future of collaboration, there’s no better place to look than Enterprise Connect. From the startups to the heavyweights, collaboration providers gathered in Orlando last week to demo their latest innovations. And this year, cognitive collaboration, or the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to improve team collaboration experience, dominated the conversation.
With a few days to reflect on my experience at Enterprise Connect, I’ve come up with 5 predictions on how cognitive collaboration will change the way we work by 2020.
1: Your digital assistant will become an indispensable part of your day
Digital assistants are mainstream with over 100 million devices sold that connect to consumer assistants, like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Enterprise-grade assistants with conversational AI capabilities will make your meeting a zero-touch experience, so you can join a meeting, call a contact or start a recording with just your voice. While available now, this is still a burgeoning technology and you’ll see functionality increase rapidly with the ability to assign action items, scheduling meetings and take notes.
2: Distributed collaboration becomes more productive and personable than in-person meetings
AI-driven capabilities will provide you with contextual insight that’s just not possible to get during an in-person meeting. As an example, People Insights for Webex Meetings, which was introduced in Amy Chang’s keynote, provides you with information on the people you’re meeting with, right in your meeting space. No more searching on LinkedIn or Google – our participants’ work history, education, latest blogs, company information and links to social media accounts are a click away. This allows you to discover shared background and interests and ultimately help you build stronger connections. Another example is facial recognition, which will display the names and titles of participants in a virtual meeting – this becomes very useful when a room is occupied by multiple participants.
3: Your collaboration platform becomes an AI-platform
From your team space to meetings and devices, everything in your collaboration suite will be enabled with cross-product AI functionality. Imagine joining a meeting and having your last conversation with someone automatically pop-up or the last whiteboard from your team space becomes available in your virtual meeting without having to search for it because the platform knows you met with the same people earlier to discuss the same topic. On an individual level, this may seem like a small, measurable improvement to your daily work life, but that small improvement scaled across a large organization can have profound effects on collaboration and productivity.
4: Interoperability sets collaboration suites apart
While a platform is critical for leveraging AI use cases across your collaboration tools, interoperability needs to remain a key factor in toolset decisions. During a panel discussion, Sri Srinivasan, SVP/GM of Teams Collaboration Group at Cisco, explained: “We are increasingly driven by end user choice — the culture of how people work matters most. We need to make software that interoperates for the technology mix.” From productivity tools, like Office 365 or Google’s G Suite, to customer relationship management tools, like Salesforce, collaboration solutions need to integrate and work well with other software. One of the important factors to consider is that employee preference for what they use to get their job done is always evolving, so organizations need a solution with a proven history of developing for interoperability.
5: Enterprise adoption of AI hastens future capabilities
AI capabilities will continue to evolve as more organizations adopt the technology. There are two reasons for this:
- The Data: As Michelle Burbick says in her Enterprise Connect roundup blog, “If Data is King, AI is Queen” (it’s worth a read!). The more data available, the more likely AI and machine learning can be leveraged to discover and test new patterns that will lead to unique AI-use cases and greater efficiency gains.
- The Providers: It won’t be long before organizations see the business value of an AI-enabled collaboration suites. This will drive demand for the solutions that are best positioned to deliver capabilities now and in the future. Collaboration technology providers will continue to invest in these capabilities as AI-features become a key way to set themselves apart from the competition.
With the introduction of AI, technology decisions can no longer be based on which point solutions solves a particular problem, here and now. Instead, decision must be about investing in a strategic platform that will fundamentally change the way people work together, how they connect and innovate.
To learn more about cognitive collaboration, join the upcoming webinar: Cognitive Collaboration: How AI and Machine Learning are Transforming How We Work and Collaborate