News & Events

Cognitive Collaboration – An Introduction to the Future of Cisco Collaboration

  • 25 March, 2019

Article, Cisco, Unified Collaboration

On Wednesday (20/03/19), Cisco officially announced its new vision of Cognitive Collaboration with an impressive presentation from Amy Chang at Enterprise Connect. Amy demonstrated several fascinating new collaboration technologies that really are quite ground-breaking. In this article, we’ll go through the biggest points in her demonstration. Keep a lookout in the coming weeks for more in-depth articles on each of the new cognitive collaboration capabilities that are coming to the Cisco suite.

What is Cognitive Collaboration?

Cognitive Collaboration is a concept that has been around for a few years now and relates the symbiotic relationship between humans and computers, specifically when it comes to AI. Cisco has latched onto to this vision and made it a reality by slipstreaming context and intelligence into their collaboration suite.

They say that over the next few months all 300 million Cisco users worldwide will benefit from what they are implementing and that it will fundamentally change the way we communicate with each other. Their vision is to enable us to provide our own customers with experiences that are personalised like never before.

Accompany and Cognitive Collaboration

Accompany is a firm that Cisco bought around 10 months ago. They consisted of a team of primarily ex-Google employees that wanted to build a largescale data ingestion platform related to businesses and business people. This is essentially what Accompany does. It constantly crawls the web accumulating an abundance of publicly available information that has anything to do with business.

What makes Accompany special is the AI tool that they developed which can efficiently discern which information belongs to which person as many people have the exact same name around the world.

The first way that Amy demonstrated the value of this tool is how it can improve the Webex experience. As you can see in the screenshots, the Webex Graph will show all sorts of information about the person you’re about to meet with, including how to break the ice, content that the person has published, recent times that the person has been mentioned in the news and much more.

There are also pages you can look at about the business they work for which shows even more rich information that will be valuable for you to know before your discussion. If you want to keep up to date with when something big happens to one of your customers, you can turn on automatic notifications for when they have a sudden spike of press surrounding them. This enables you to react quickly to anything that might be going on.

This looks like a fascinating new feature for Webex that is likely to be extremely useful to many people. Amy also said that this is all available right now!

Webex and Cognitive Collaboration

Webex is Cisco’s flagship collaboration platform that allows people across the globe to communicate with each other in perfect quality. It was recently named as CRN’s product of the year and Gartner placed it top in their meeting solutions matrix last year.

The number of businesses deploying the solution is only increasing and Cisco announced that they hosted a record of 280 million minutes of meetings just last month! This success can be mostly attributed to the phenomenal feature set that Cisco continues to improve.

At the Enterprise Connect event, Amy showcased some great new features that are available to Webex users related to Cognitive Collaboration. You can now see up to 25 video feeds at once on one single pane. This transforms team meetings and ensures every single person is engaged with what is spoken about. There were several other new features to the Webex application that you can learn more about here.

Webex Room Kit Mini and Cognitive Collaboration

The presentation features a segment on one of Cisco’s newest collaboration tools, the Webex Room Kit Mini. This device is small enough to fit into tiny rooms and huddle spaces but is capable of providing the same experience as its larger counterparts. It uses an extreme wide-angle fisheye lens to effectively capture everyone sitting in the room. Similar devices from competitors will use a similar lens but Cisco has worked on ensuring that the video feed is not distorted because of this which is where competing devices fail.

The Room Kit Mini has built-in AI capabilities which allow it to identify the exact person who is speaking and adjust the framing so that they are more visible on the video conference. This is called Active Framing or Best View. The device also keeps track of when people are using the room and how many people are present at all times to provide detailed usage analytics to administrators to enable more efficient planning.

One of the most glamorous new features that Cisco demonstrated at the event was the new and improved facial recognition technology featured in Webex. As you can see in the video above, the camera can expertly detect exactly who is in the room even when they are trying to fool it. Name tags are then automatically placed in front of the participants and follow them if they change seat to provide extra context in the meetings and avoid any awkward scenarios that can happen when the time comes that you inevitably forget someone’s name. All these new features also function seamlessly on mobile devices.

To see our Webex Room Kit Mini product page click here.

New Cisco Integrations

Cisco made a point of telling their customers that they understand that businesses use a whole variety of tools and platforms to perform their everyday tasks. Instead of this being a hindrance to your productivity, they are making changes to optimise Cisco collaboration tools to integrate perfectly with different non-Cisco platforms.

Webex and Office 365

One of the most exciting and valuable new integrations that Cisco recently announced was with Office 365. You can now share your One Drive and Share Point files directly from Webex Teams as you can see in the video below. If you set the document as editable, anyone that you share it with will be able to directly change the document without needing to send you an updated version. Anyone who works in a collaborative team will know how much time this will save. Being able to edit and improve in real time will dramatically improve the way teams work.

This is not the only integration, however. If you are a Microsoft Teams user, you’ll be delighted to know that you can now join Webex Meetings directly from your Microsoft Teams client. Being able to perform this task in just the click of a button means you can spend more time getting the important activities accomplished.

Webex and Google Cloud

Cisco has now enabled users to schedule and join meetings directly through the Google Cloud. If you are a Gmail user, no longer will you need to send a Webex invitation to a client separate from your email. Schedule it directly on the Gmail platform by clicking the calendar button, selecting “Add Conferencing, and choosing Webex Meeting. It’s as easy as that. Webex has never been more simple and intuitive and it’s all down to the Cisco Cognitive Collaboration vision. To quote Amy; “This is just the beginning.”

Cisco Jabber

Throughout the presentation, there were many references to Cisco Jabber, the on-prem messaging solution that is similar in function to Webex Teams. In just the last 10 months, Jabber’s user base has increased by 9 million people. Cisco wanted all of their Jabber customers that there is a fantastic roadmap lined up for Jabber and Cognitive Collaboration will play a huge part in further improving the user experience and the feature set available. Amy said that they are investing significant capital into the platform and you should be excited for what’s to come.


The purpose of this presentation was to show what Cisco has been building for their customers that is being released today, tomorrow, and for the extended future. You could tell from Amy’s expressions how excited the Cisco team is that this Cognitive Collaboration vision is now coming to fruition and becoming a reality.

They want to continue slipstreaming intelligence and context into their entire collaboration suite; Webex, calling, messaging, meeting, and Contact Center. They made a promise that Cisco customers can expect some really big announcements over the next 18 months and at Tesrex, we are very excited to see what’s to come.

To watch the full 30 minute presentation that Amy Chang gave, click here.

To learn more about the Room Kit Mini, click here.

To learn about Tesrex’s areas of specialisation within Cisco Collaboration, click here.