Have you ever wanted to ditch your mobile device, step back into the pre-internet everywhere era and pop on a Depeche Mode cassette? Yeah, me either. But for knowledge workers dealing with a constant stream of notifications and requests, stepping back a few decades might seem like a welcome reprieve. Luckily, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are transforming the way we work and it’s not only leading to better outcomes, but more importantly, making our work life a little more pleasant.

“A Question of Time”

Today we can collaborate with anyone in any location but building relationships with our colleagues and focusing on higher value initiatives often takes a back seat to the day’s urgent request. In addition, the technology that’s meant to help us get our jobs done can themselves become barriers. Take a common virtual meeting, for example. Today, 85% of people experience online meeting problems and 42% felt frustrated in the last week because they could not easily join an online meeting. This software is meant to make our jobs easier and improve collaboration, but it’s not meeting our expectations. Even worse, these minor frustrations can add up to a lot of wasted time.

“The Landscape is Changing”

Enter AI and machine learning. While we’re a far way off from HAL 9000, there are market-proven AI capabilities that are being leveraged today to improve collaboration. This new form of collaboration, termed cognitive collaboration, is one where the machines are involved in the process — removing mundane tasks and facilitating a more human experience.

With capabilities like AI assistants and bots which help to facilitate and automate tasks and relationship intelligence that serves up information on meeting attendees, cognitive collaboration is transforming the virtual meeting experience.

“People are People”

According to a new survey by Dimensional Research, 72% of respondents said their meetings generally start late. When asked about why, some of the most popular responses were that they encountered:

  • Problems joining the meeting (57%)
  • Desktop or application sharing issues (43%)
  • Background noise impairs the meeting (41%)

Imagine a world where everyone was prompted by a virtual assistant to join their meeting and all they had to respond was “Ok Webex, join my meeting.” No fumbling for a join code, no dial-in.

Or how about using your voice to share your screen and if you start typing away to respond to an urgent message, it’s automatically detected and your audio line is suppressed? These capabilities aren’t a future state — they are here today and are a core part of Webex Devices and Meetings.

While Webex Assistant will help your meetings run more efficiently, once you’re in the meeting, AI-generated people and company profiles will take your collaboration experience to the next level.

People Insights provides detailed profiles right in Webex Meetings, allowing us to discover shared interests and backgrounds and helping us get to know the people we meet with a little better. Not sure who someone is in the meeting? Check out their profile. Curious to see who the new person in your organization reports to? Reporting structure is a click away.

Today, over 80% of people spend up to 5 hours a week researching the people they’re meeting with — when the information you’re looking for is presented to you when you need, that’s a lot of time you can get back in your day. I’m not the only one excited about this. In a recent survey, 4 out of 5 respondents say having background information on people in the meeting would increase the meeting effectiveness. Beyond the meeting, it is helping to foster better relationships which can lead to improved team synergies and better outcomes.

“Enjoy the Silence”

These cognitive collaboration capabilities are game changers for knowledge workers, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. As these capabilities continue to become interwoven into the collaboration platform and new AI-enabled features emerge, the in-meeting experience will rival, and maybe soon surpass, in-person collaboration. And at the end of the day, maybe that means you get a chance to enjoy the silence for a bit (cue the cassette).



Derek Stevens

Product Marketing Manager

Cisco Webex