Now the two companies are forming an alliance that will leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and develop Watson as a virtual for office workers.
In partnering with Cisco, IBM will be able to present its Watson AI service to Cisco’s large base of unified communications and collaboration (UCC) customers. The network technology provider’s UCC revenues went up 10 per cent year-to-year in April. A partnership with such a company is just what IBM has been looking for the drive Watson sales and declining revenues it has been experiencing in recent years.
Working with IBM, Cisco will gain the benefit of IBM’s email platform and business-focused social network platform. This could give it an edge over rivals in the UCC space such as Microsoft.
The partnership will combine IBM’s Verse email platform, Cisco’s WebEx conferencing service and Spark messaging app.
Such a collaboration could, for example, enable a worker using Verse e-mail to launch a WebEx online conference almost instantaneously rather than having to go through a series of commands. The system might also allow other participants to be able to access data on what transpired during a previous WebEx meeting.
By adding the Watson API to Cisco’s cloud collaboration solutions, the AI feature could also enable users to automate scheduling tasks. For instance, Watson can help users analyse which tasks as more important that others based on data such as recent conversations and previous meetings.
“The irony of many workforce tools available today is that with because there are so many to choose from, they can reduce employee effectiveness,” said Inhi Cho, general manager, IBM Collaboration Solutions. “With our combined technology strengths and understanding of how teams get work done, IBM and Cisco can deliver the next generation of collaboration tools needed to cultivate innovation and drive productivity.”
He said that by incorporating analytics and cognitive technologies into these solutions, “we expect them to be able to learn what is important, in context, and take the right actions on behalf of the user.”
“Now we can deliver amazing, next-generation “Intelligent Collaboration” that allows enterprises to compete in this fast-moving digital world,” said Jens Meggers, senior vice president and general manager, Cisco Cloud Collaboration Technology.
Previously, Cisco and IBM touted that with their earlier IoT collaboration, they can help organisations operating in remote locations enhance communications and the capability to monitor the health and behaviour of critical machinery.
“The way we experience and interact with the physical world is being transformed by the power of cloud computing and the Internet of Things,” said Harriet Green, general manager, IBM Watson IoT, commerce and education. “For an oil rig in a remote location or a factory where critical decisions have to be taken immediately, uploading all data to the cloud is not always the best option.”
He said that IBM and Cisco are taking IoT technologies to “the last mile,” and extending Watson IoT from the cloud to the edge of computer networks.
For example, by tapping into the IBM Watson IoT platform and Cisco edge analytics, workers in remote environments can adopt the latest approaches to condition-based maintenance through which equipment is monitored in real-time, potentially helping reduce maintenance costs by up to 50 per cent and increase productivity by 25 per cent, said Mala Anand, senior vice president of Cisco data and analytics platform group.
Something like this could help Bell customers gain access to real-time analytics solutions that will help them improve performance across their operations said Stephen Howe, chief technology officer of Bell Canada.
“Many of our largest customers operate remote systems, requiring continuous availability and access to data to monitor critical performance factors and avoid downtime,” he said. “Deploying the unmatched analytics capabilities of IBM Watson Internet of Things and Cisco networking intelligence with streaming edge analytics will help to further accelerate Bell’s leadership in Canadian IoT.”
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