Cisco Webex expands collaboration and hybrid work with generative artificial intelligence

Cisco’s Webex video conferencing platform introduces machine learning and generative AI capabilities to improve remote collaboration and CRM through enhanced video experiences and ChatGPT-like natural language interfaces.

The Webex logo on your computer.
Image: monticello/Adobe Stock

Cisco is introducing a series of generative AI-driven features on its Webex video conferencing platform, from meeting summaries to visual enhancements. These services are aimed at both customer communication and hybrid working end users.

The company is joining companies like Microsoft, Salesforce, Adobe and Google to add generative AI capabilities to its service. New updates to Webex include AI-powered audio, video, natural language understanding and analytics enhancements.


Webex wants to take market share from Zoom and others

According to customer relationship management data provider company Datanyze, Zoom is the market leader in video conferencing with a market share of 72.61% and is used by more than 176,757 companies. According to the report, Cisco Webex is a distant second at 8.6%, with more than 20,935 companies using Webex.

After Webex, according to Datanyze, GoToWebinar with 7% of the global market share, On24, Adobe Connect, Livestorm, GoToMeeting and Google Hangouts.

Cisco is on a multi-year journey to integrate machine learning

Javed Khan, Cisco’s senior vice president and director of collaboration, said the company has been developing the use of machine learning systems for at least three years.

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“Cisco has been investing in this for 10 or 15 years [years], starting with the basics like noise cancellation and some of our video conferencing technology that can detect faces and zoom in and out,” said Khan. “So we’ve been working on this for a while.

“What has happened in the last few years is that the underlying technologies have reached a point where the level of real-time processing and the amount of training data available has grown exponentially. So I think these technologies have gotten 100 times better, making things possible that weren’t possible before.”

Khan said that over the past three years, Cisco has spent about $1.5 billion to acquire several companies, including Voice and BabbleLabs for sound enhancement technologies, as well as AllMeldnatural language processing company.

AI Developments in Webex

According to Cisco, the integration of AI has allowed the company to perform a variety of text and image enhancements that include image optimization, 3D effects, and natural language queries.

Cinema for Webex devices

Webex updates give user videos a cinematic quality by using RoomOS conference video system that optimizes video by automatically switching between cameras, for example when a user uses more than one.

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According to the company, the feature allows IT administrators to create virtual spaces or meeting zones that automatically exclude distracting objects or people.

The cinema-like feature includes the ability to capture the speaker from the best angle by automatically switching views.

Webex portrait effect

The artificial intelligence built into Webex also allows users to create complex visual optimization effects, such as adding depth and sharpness to the look and taking low-resolution videos in high definition (Figure A).

Figure A

Video call in Webex.
Image: Webex

In addition, AI recognizes human gestures and can add corresponding emoticons on the screen, such as a hand raised in celebration, a clenched hand for thanks and a request, and a heart for love. It also adds animated features such as confetti, fireflies and universe effects (Figure B).

Figure B

Webex enhancements add animated features.
Image: Cisco. Webex enhancements add animated features.

And if a speaker leaves the camera view zone without leaving the meeting, the AI ​​will recognize this and display the “back right” icon (Figure C).

Figure C

Webex automatically overlays the
Image: Cisco. Webex automatically overlays the “be back” clock face image.

Message offers

The Message Recommendations feature uses artificial intelligence to prioritize chat and space messages based on interactions with team members and other people users interact with most often. Space recommendations suggest relevant Webex spaces for you to join based on similar people and engagement.

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Cisco said that the use of large language models in the Webex customer experience enabled the Webex Contact Center to deploy automated, AI-driven features such as:

  • Virtual Agents: Self-service chatbot.
  • The agent’s responses: A service that provides real-time recommendations to the agent based on the inquiry.
  • Contextual Chat Summary: A new feature that will be available on the Webex Connect platform automatically summarizes long texts across digital channels. Can be used with Webex Contact Center or any other third-party contact center solution.

The company said it will also add generative artificial intelligence capabilities Webex campaign, which is part of the Webex communication platform solutions-as-a-service portfolio. These features include:

  • Subject line generator for email subject lines for marketers and content creators.
  • Evaluate Node for developers and IT professionals, designed to simplify the creation of new processes and applications.

Khan said that Webex’s AI capabilities will be released during 2023, and some are already available.