By Jeffrey Burt
CISCO LIVE 2019 — Cisco Systems officials are in the mood to unify products throughout the company’s broad portfolio.
A day after unveiling their latest steps to create a single network architecture for all of the domains that make up an enterprise’s IT environment, they talked about the latest moves to unify Cisco’s various collaboration products and services.
Cisco already has all of its collaboration devices running on the same operating system and has worked to make its Webex applications, for such tasks as web conferencing and messaging, work more in sync with each other on a common platform.
At the company’s Cisco Live conference this week in San Diego, Amy Chang, senior vice president and general manager of collaboration, announced that the Jabber tool will include functionality similar to Webex Teams, so that a note written in Jabber can show up immediately in Teams. The user experience with Jabber will have a similar feel to Teams.
At the same time, Cisco is expanding the reach of its People Insights technology, which uses artificial intelligence to give users better visibility and a deeper background into the people they’re meeting with, something Chang demonstrated for the 28,000 or so attendees here.
People Insights was initially announced in March for Webex Meetings, but Chang said the AI technology will be used by other collaboration tools in the portfolio, from Calling and Messenger to Jabber. It’s a key part to what she called Cisco’s “cognitive collaboration” initiative to bring greater intelligence to the product suite.
Chang came to Cisco last year when the giant networking vendor spent $270 million to buy Accompany, where she was the founder and CEO. Accompany’s products including an AI-based relationship intelligence platform for such tasks as finding new prospects, navigating the selling process and building and strengthening relationships. Cisco at the time said it wanted to leverage the platform across its collaboration products.
Speaking with journalists, Cisco chairman and CEO Chuck Robbins said Chang has done “an incredibly good job of integrating our architecture together much more deeply than it has in the past.” Robbins also noted that she has worked to drive the industry toward greater integration and interoperability.
“This has been an industry where it has operated its own pieces and she’s … made a lot of progress in bringing everything together so customers can have a rich experience with whatever pieces they choose,” he said.
In a blog, Sri Srinivasan, senior vice president and general manager of Webex Meetings, Teams, Devices and Callings, said that companies are dealing with a significant change in the workforce.
“Workers are spread around the globe, innovation at speed is critical, and it’s hard to attract and retain the best people,” Srinivasan wrote. “Employee engagement with customers is paramount, and their customers are buying experiences — not just products anymore.”
He said that “instant, rich collaboration drives agility in an organization. But sometimes technology can get in the way. No one has time to cut and paste dial codes, or to wait for co-workers or external participants to overcome technology issues to join. No one wants to have to ask, ‘Can you see me? Can you hear me?’ That’s why we’ve cut the friction out of meeting with your team.”
In her address during the keynote, Chang said Cisco in the coming months will continue to drive efforts around making the collaboration portfolio work together more seamlessly.