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October Release of Webex RoomOS: conferencing devices
October release of Webex RoomOS

When machine learning and AI became important in our industry, we gathered some of our brightest minds to implement this into our Webex conferencing devices. Some ideas were better than others, and after rigorous testing quite a few got discarded, while some were pursued further and applied to our devices. One of those features was face recognition.

Face recognition became name labels, and people got excited about being able to identify the person(s) on the other side of the video call by their name. Understandably so – addressing people by their names facilitates trust, something that customer service departments do to make their customers feel more comfortable.

This did not come without challenges. Some technical, but also challenges related to privacy rights and security. We rolled up our sleeves and started working through those challenges, and after many months of hard work we can finally release Name Labels as a general feature in our October release of Webex RoomOS. This is now available to all of our users. Of course, it is up to the organization if they wish to use it, and individuals can decide themselves whether they want to be recognized or not. Consent by the end user is a must.

However, when it is enabled it is powerful. You can sit in a meeting and see the name of all the people you are interacting with. Having a name to the people you are conversing with facilitates memory and recall – and can spare you for many awkward follow-ups asking who said what. Here at Cisco we hope your organization will take good use of this feature, and experience first-hand how useful it is.

Figure 1. Name Labels

Another feature we have been working on for a while is Cloud xAPI. We know the power of API. Many of our integrators and customers are using them daily to create workflows that help them in their day-to-day tasks, and from the moment we launched our Cloud service, we knew we had to develop and create a good story around Cloud API. This was not an easy task. It was important for us to make sure that this had a very high security level, which is key to everything we develop here at Cisco. With security being one of our top priorities, we worked closely with our Webex Teams business unit to develop a powerful way to access the devices API from the cloud. Developers can start porting their on-premises applications to the cloud, making the task of moving to the cloud a lot easier. There was a lot of heavy lifting done from Cisco’s Control Hub group to support the Cloud API in an elegant manner, but we have done it. Richard Bayes will soon be dedicating a whole blog post on this feature, but in the meantime you can click these links to learn more:

https://developer.webex.com/docs/api/guides/xapi
https://developer.webex.com/docs/api/v1/devices
https://developer.webex.com/docs/api/v1/places
https://developer.webex.com/docs/api/v1/xapi

Figure 2. Webex devices Cloud API

In August we released WebApps, and in October we are simplifying creating and deploying them. Let me explain. You see, before this release you needed to have a solid understanding of how to create a macro, and be willing to get your hands a bit dirty with code in order to create a WebApp. Nothing too difficult, but we have now made it way easier.

Remember the old in-room control editor? Now it is not only for in-room controls anymore. We expanded it and gave it a fresh retouch to allow for easy creation of WebApps. A contextual menu tells you how to start the process, which can be as simple as inputting the URL of the app you want to have, and the system will even automatically download an icon from the Internet to match your app. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

Now – this is all for October, and I am hoping that next month I will have some good news for you around companion mode and touch re-direct which is due to launch very soon.

Stay tuned!


Interested in Webex video conferencing for your conferencing devices? Sign up for free.

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team collaboration helps change AI
The 5 ways AI will transform team collaboration

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


Try Webex teams, team collaboration tool, for free.

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Video conferencing and AI
Artificial intelligence is a game changer for online meeting experiences

Let’s face it, virtual meetings can be painful. Have you ever joined a last-minute video conferencing meeting only to realize you don’t know who half the people are or what they do? Or participated in a large meeting where someone forgot to hit mute and decides it’s the perfect time to transcribe their doctoral thesis. These are the kinds of meeting experiences that give distributed collaboration a bad reputation, but artificial intelligence (AI) is about to change all of that.

AI has the power to make our meetings more efficient, productive and pleasant. This new era of teamwork is called cognitive collaboration. It’s the application of AI and machine learning to add contextual intelligence to the entire collaboration experience. Here are just a few examples of how cognitive collaboration can transform your entire meeting experience:

Before the Meeting

  • A zero-touch digital assistant helps remove mundane tasks like joining a meeting, calling colleagues and adding people to your call.
  • If you join from a conference room, the device in the room knows who you are and asks if you’d like to join your meeting.

During the Meeting

  • Detailed information about participants’ work history, blog posts, company and links to social media accounts are available directly in your meeting, so you don’t have to search to learn about your meeting participants.
  • Facial recognition lets you put a face to a name, so when there are multiple participants in a conference room, you can easily identify the people on screen.
  • Keyboard tapping, dogs barking, and other disruptive background noises are automatically detected, and the offending party is alerted with a suggestion to mute.

After the Meeting

  • Transcripts of your meeting are available, so you can search for action items or quickly catch up on what you missed in a meeting.
  • Collaboration continues in a dedicated space for internal and external participants where you can share files, meetings recordings and a meme or two.

The before, during, and after scenario I describe above is only part of what we’re introducing into Cisco Webex. You can learn more about cognitive collaboration on Webex.com. And if you’d like to dive deeper into the topic of AI-driven collaboration, read the white paper “The Future of Collaboration: How AI is Transforming the Way We Work.”

 


If interested, check out Webex Meetings or Webex Teams for free:

https://www.webex.com/pricing/free-trial.html

 

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oculus-rift
What’s next in Collaboration?

We’re faced with a world where it’s becoming increasingly harder to keep up with advances in technology and where our brains hardly have the capacity to grasp what the world might look like even 10 or 20 years down the line. At Cisco’s Collaboration Group we naturally spend a lot of our time on what lies ahead – tackling both the giant technology leaps we need to make in the future as well as the incremental improvements we can make to dramatically impact people’s everyday work lives and productivity. In this post I will give a brief look into what we think are some of the challenges that lie ahead in the collaboration industry, along with a peek at some technologies that may help shape the future of teams and their work together.

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