Watson might schedule your meetings someday if a partnership between IBM and Cisco Systems bears the fruit they’re hoping to grow.
In the meantime, the companies hope to save employees from some of the meaningless tasks they have to carry out just to work with their colleagues.
IBM’s Verse email platform and Connections collaboration suite are a good match for Cisco products like the Spark messaging app and WebEx conferencing service, so the two vendors have found ways to integrate them, company officials say. All this will happen in the cloud. They’ll demonstrate the first examples next month at the Cisco Live conference.
The collaboration could have particular value for enterprise Apple users. Both IBM and Cisco have partnerships with Apple for enterprise applications and communications on the company's devices. Details on that aspect of the IBM-Cisco partnership will come later, they said.
By working together, Cisco and IBM first plan to make the products aware of each other and able to work in sync. For example, if user has set up a WebEx meeting via email in Verse, they may be able to launch that meeting directly from Verse in one click instead of four, said Inhi Cho Suh, general manager of collaborations solutions at IBM Analytics. The participants might automatically get information about what they discussed during their last WebEx meeting, too.
Another early feature might let someone look up a contact’s profile in IBM’s Connections platform and click to set up a one-on-one text session or voice call in Spark.
“It’s keeping individuals within their workflow,” said Ross Daniels, senior director of collaboration marketing at Cisco. “They’re not having to stop and do something in another toolset or interrupt the flow of work.”
Later, things will get more interesting. Cisco and IBM will bring Watson APIs into the collaboration tools to automate things you might not have expected to see artificial intelligence do.
By capturing spoken and written communication and observing how each individual works, the Watson analytics platform could act as a personal assistant that helps employees prepare to collaborate, helps move those sessions along and even decides when people should meet.
A key part of all this is making Watson understand what’s most important.
For example, by looking at what an employee’s been talking about with co-workers for the past week, the analytics engine could figure out that a new meeting on that topic should take priority over a standing meeting that the user attends every week. If push came to shove, the standing meeting could automatically get the boot. (Users could reverse Watson’s decisions.)
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