How AI Could Improve Your Next Meeting in Cisco Webex


Imagine you’re walking into a conference room for a big meeting. The screen on the wall wakes up as you enter. “Hi,” it says. It calls you by name. “I see in your calendar that you have a meeting that starts in five minutes—want to join now?”

“Not yet,” you say. You need to talk to someone first. “OK, Webex, call Susan.”

There are 199 “Susan’s” in your company directory, but the system seems to know which one you mean. “Susan Lee?” It asks. “Yep!” you say. It connects you. You talk with Susan and say goodbye.

“Your meeting starts in two minutes—want to join now?” the screen asks. “Sure!” you say. “Let’s do it.” Three people you’ve never met are in the meeting when you join. Each person’s name and title appear on the screen just below her face. You glance at your laptop just as the system serves up a profile for each of them.

If you’re one of the 300 million people who use the Cisco Webex® platform every month, you won’t have to imagine this. You will experience it soon. We call it Cognitive Collaboration, and our new research indicates nine out of ten people are pounding the table to use it. See it in action here.

Bringing Context and Intelligence to Meetings

On the Webex design team we’re always thinking of how we can make meetings better. Sure, you need great sound and video and screen sharing. But technology can do so much more. It can be like that great assistant who not only takes care of the technical stuff but also slips you useful notes in the middle of the conversation. This context and intelligence helps you build stronger relationships, have better conversations with customers and make smarter, faster decisions.

People Insights gives you professional profiles about the people you’re meeting—in real time. Keep in mind we use context and intelligence to serve these up—so even if you’re meeting someone with a common name like John Smith we will give you the right John Smith. (Try looking him up with a simple web search and you’ll get lots of useless information on lots of wrong John Smiths! And if you happen to be meeting with a different John Smith later in the day, Webex will know that too.)

And these aren’t static, one-dimensional profiles. We scour the Web for publicly available information to create a living, breathing profile of the people and companies you care about, and we keep these up to date with the latest news. (You also get to see your profile that is visible to others, and if something shows up that you don’t like, you can always edit it.) This is available as a trial now, with general availability slated for June.

Webex Assistant is what is behind two of the new features in the example above. The assistant’s new Proactive Join lets you walk into the room and be asked if you want to join your meeting. To accomplish this, we first needed to know who you are (which we do thanks to an innovation called intelligent proximity).

Then we needed to be able to peek into the calendar to see what’s next. And Webex Assistant’s new First Match let Webex know you probably were trying to call Susan Lee. It feels a lot like magic—it looks at the people in your own organization (via the company directory) and scans your Webex Teams spaces to see who you talk to most to make its best guess. In early field trials, Webex gave customers its top three guesses. But its top pick proved right so often that customers asked us to just serve up the first match. You can even use it to add someone to a call already underway.

Webex Assistant, along with First Match technology, is generally available now across the entire Webex Room Series. Proactive Join is available on a limited basis now and will be generally available in June.

Facial recognition is what is attaches those name/title labels to the three people you never met before in our example. We’ve said before that video is “better than being there,” and that certainly holds true here. Remote people need not guess who’s who in that big conference room filled with new faces. This will be available in June.

“Cognitive Collaboration is a game changer for Cisco customers across all industries,” said Amy Chang, SVP and GM, Collaboration Technology Group, Cisco. “When we enable people to collaborate from wherever they are in a way that’s intuitive, easy and smart, we make their work and life experiences better and more productive.”