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Cisco is bringing new artificial intelligence capabilities to its Webex portfolio, a suite of features designed to help increase productivity whether users are in the office, at home or in a contact center.

AI-driven capabilities include the general availability of a set of generative AI capabilities that Cisco first previewed in October 2023, including Cisco AI Assistant for Webex, which provides summarization and chatbot capabilities. Cisco is also launching new software and hardware, including Cisco AI Assistant (CX) for customer experience, and a beta preview of a contact center agent burnout feature designed to help identify when agents may need assistance.

The Cisco Webex AI update comes as competition continues to intensify in the AI-powered conferencing and collaboration market, with vendors such as Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Zoom and Otter AI all adding to their feature lists. While certain features like meeting summaries are now table stakes for the new generation of AI meeting collaboration vendors, Cisco is looking to differentiate by introducing more contextual and network capabilities.

“We’re starting to talk about how AI will have an impact in the customer experience space, not only for knowledge workers and frontline employees who primarily use calling, conferencing and chat, but also in the contact center space,” said Anurag Dhingra, senior vice president, Cisco. CTO and Head of Engineering, Collaboration told VentureBeat.

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Is agent burnout a problem?Artificial intelligence comes to the rescue

The most unique and interesting aspect of the Cisco Webex AI updates is the series of updates to Webex contact center technology.

Webex is the overall brand name for Cisco’s collaboration and conferencing tools, including desktop software for video and voice as well as enterprise collaboration and messaging. There is also a specific product aimed at customer contact centers, which is where Webex Contact Center comes in.

Cisco Webex Contact Center is getting AI capabilities for topic analysis to analyze why customers are contacting and what the trends are. The system will also offer a suggested response feature, where artificial intelligence can recommend responses for agents to use. Additionally, there are end-of-call summaries and summaries powered by AI to help extract insights.

While summaries, answers, and topic analysis are fun, Cisco takes it a step further with its agent burnout feature.

“This is where we apply artificial intelligence to predict when agents will experience burnout, which will start to impact the quality of interactions they provide to customers,” Dhingra explains. “You can then take action based on that, such as taking them out of the call queue for a period of time to give them a break, or start transferring calls to someone else.”

Cisco Webex AI assistant also gets a boost

Cisco is also expanding its artificial intelligence capabilities for enterprise users.

Cisco AI Assistant for Webex is being expanded with real-time translation of messages in chat spaces and messaging channels. Previously translation was only available for meeting closed captions. Translation support is extensive, supporting more than 100 languages.

In addition to the software update, Cisco also released two new hardware devices. The Cisco Board Pro G2 is a touch collaboration device, while the Cisco Desk Phone 9800 Series offers integrated Webex capabilities for network optimization devices.

The new hardware is designed to help support the back-to-office tasks that are starting to increase in businesses. A new global study by Cisco of 14,000 employees and more than 3,000 employers in 19 different countries found that 80% of employers worldwide are mandating some form of return to the office.

Dhingra said the new hardware is designed to help provide more functionality to office users. For example, in some environments, “hot-swappable” desks are used as needed rather than dedicated desks. The Cisco Desk Phone 9800 Series supports this scenario, allowing users to easily log in and out of the phone to gain full access to their messaging, calendar, and collaboration tools.

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