Cisco WebEx Assistant

Webex-AssistantWe all agree Technology should be an enabler not a hindrance. In the collaboration area, enabling colleagues to be able to communicate with each other without the need to understand technology but rather to ensure the medium used to contact another is simple and causing the least hindrance possible. Aside from the area of interoperability – which is in itself an entire topic for discussion, in recent years vendors have tried to prioritise the usability as a main focus. In this fast pacing world, users already have a vast number of things they need to specialise in and the last thing they should be worried about contending with should be the technology. 

in my experience, Cisco has successfully managed to standardise the usability aspect across all their video enabled endpoints so there is no need to learn how to use one endpoint to another. For their part, they have generally been focussing on making most of its products more ‘intuitive’ and in the workspace based collaboration arena they have been pretty consistent in achieving this ‘more intuitive’ way of working.

while continuing on working to enhance the user experience they are now working on leaveraging the use of Artificial Intelligence to take it to the next level. With the upcoming introduction of Cisco WebEx Assistant it aims to take the collaborative experience to the he next level by making it more personal. With WebEx Assistant it now powers a more natural way of communicating with technology as if it was a person. This way, it does away with the need to know how to dial a person rather now to just speak to the Assistant asking it to make the call. 

What makes this different to the use of Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home and any other consumer based offering out there? On the face of it, it seems like a valid question, but when you consider the broad nature and superficial depth of the queries it does not fully apply in the business context. When querying Amazon Alexa for the name of an actor on a particular movie one is watching will be different to a business application where its application has more a specific context, for example in an organisation there would be thousands of users and the AI component can identify differentiate John from another user based on his speech patterns, and then to link the relevance of John’s calling habits, meeting information and organisational structure to identify the most likely match for John wanting to call Jon ABC as opposed to Jon DEF on the basis of his interaction and organisational placement and a number of other factors. If John has a impending meeting to then just join the meeting:

Okay – WebEx, Join my meeting …

Hi John, Joining your meeting…

From a corporate perspective there is also the consideration of security, we may have all read the reports of Amazon Alexa listening in on and recording private conversations and sending to other people – would this be acceptable in corporate organisations ? 

The Initial release of cognitive AI from WebEx assistant allows users to perform basic functions such as Start Meetings, Join and Leave Meetings, Call anyone in the organisation, providing basic capabilities such as:

  • Meeting Rooms
    • ‘Start the Meeting’
    • ‘End The Meeting’ 
  • Personal Room
    • Join my personal room ‘
    • ‘Join Tim’s Personal Room’
  • Calling
    • ‘Call Joe Bloggs ‘
    • ‘End the call ‘
  • Device Control
    • ‘Turn up the microphone’
    • ‘Mute the microphone’ 


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