Cisco is jumping in on the AI-powered voice assistant game with the introduction of Spark Assistant - a kind of Siri for meetings. You can things like “Hey, Spark. I want to start the meeting” and the software will do all the work to get you connected. While the announcement was made today, Spark Assistant will be deployed in phases with new functions added over time.
The software has been developed using machine learning tech the company brought in as part of their acquisition of MindMeld earlier this year. The software has speech recognition technology, natural language understanding, question answering and dialog management capability.
Cisco said their virtual assistant will be able to assign action items and create meeting summaries eventually - hopefully, it will have an algorithm for assigning items to people that forget to show up. This was a tactic I used to ensure people showed up to meetings.
It's clear that virtual assistants are a big deal. And while the novelty value of telling a smartphone or other device what to do and have it (perhaps) execute that command successfully is useful, enterprise applications that make it easy to manage meetings more effectively could make a real difference to office life.
In addition to the announcement about Spark Assistant, Cisco also said they will be superseding their office video system, the MX800, with a new device, the Spark Room 70. This will be the first device to support the Voice Assistant.
The company hasn't yet revealed how it will be integrated into exisiting products although they are holding an event where they will be showing the product off in a couple of weeks.