AI where it belongs: in your office
MD, Collaboration Asia Pacific & Japan
Innovation, Thought Leadership, Public Sector, Collaboration
My cousin has a talking dustbin. Say open, and the dustbin opens. Tell it to close after you deposit your trash, and it closes. I love it – most of all because I am crazily passionate about any virtual assistant (VI) or Artificial Intelligence (AI) solution in my home. But isn’t it is time for AI and virtual assistants to become more meaningful? With the first stop being the enterprise?
Frankly, the business setting is where we need AI and virtual assistants the most. I often joke that a business meeting is probably the most complex exercise we manage daily, involving a game of 20 Questions. Where do people dial in from? What device are they using? What is their connection like? Will they decide on video? Who else is in the room with them? The whole process of setting up a meeting, joining the audio and video bridge and keeping everyone engaged is inefficient and highly time-consuming. If that wasn’t bad enough, recent Cisco research indicates, that most people spend 3-5 hours a day in meetings.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if something as trivial as our daily meetings could be managed by AI? Particularly a virtual assistant that identifies us as we walk into a meeting room. Or an AI persona that we can communicate with using natural speech, that takes responsibility for managing background noise? This service is precisely the innovation that Cisco has been working on for many months, and a technology I can’t wait to start using.
Now if you are thinking, how will this technology make a difference to businesses? As much as the stress of meetings can be a time-consuming annoyance, what are the real business benefits of AI, voice recognition and virtual assistants?
I’d like to illustrate the value of AI with a Cisco customer example. Just last year, three million pensioners in Asia Pacific & Japan needed to prove they were still eligible to receive their pension by visiting a doctor to receive a Proof of Life letter and consequently submitting this paper to the pension office. This was an annual exercise, guaranteeing that for the next 12 months, they would receive their pension payments. You can imagine this procedure was cumbersome for people with disabilities, people from rural areas or people who moved states or country.
These days, the pensioners call the pension office’s virtual assistant. Every month they make just 1 phone call and the VI compares the conversation to the voice print mapped into the system. If the pensioner fails to call for three months in a row, pension payments are put on hold. The solution is imminently more convenient for people who are not mobile or have moved away, and the system has also lead to cost savings for the pension insurer.
This is one of many examples that illustrate how AI has definitively moved from a fun ‘home’ application, which tells you what the weather will be like, to making a difference in the lives of millions. AI is becoming more pervasive, more lifelike and more intuitive. That is exactly what we need for a smooth collaboration and communication experience in the office. So the next time you spend 10 minutes getting your meeting started, think of how you could use your voice - and your enterprise-ready virtual assistant - to connect instead.