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Cisco collaboration products unify UC, admin and productivity tools

In this roundup of UC blogs, analysts discuss the evolution of Cisco collaboration products, voice recognition in collaboration workflows and how AI benefits productivity suites.

Cisco's collaboration business has undergone significant change in the past few years with leadership changes and acquisitions. The question is how Cisco collaboration products are evolving with these changes.

All the changes within the company are coming together, said TalkingPointz analyst Dave Michels in a video blog. Michels attended an analyst event that provided an overview of Cisco's collaboration products and portfolio roadmap. He said Cisco demonstrated clear consistency throughout its portfolio, from hardware to the software UI.

"Webex Teams and Meetings have become apps very similar to each other," he said. Even on-premises Jabber has a similar UI to the cloud-based Webex Teams.

Cisco has also unified its back end with its admin Control Hub that creates a single pane of glass across unified communications as a service (UCaaS), messaging, meetings, devices and most of the contact center, he said. Control Hub can be used as a single point of management for all locations and all types of deployments, including on premises and hybrid.

Additionally, Cisco is placing increased emphasis on the contact center. Most UCaaS and meeting vendors view contact center as an adjacent market, but Cisco is focused on weaving together the pieces of UCaaS, meetings and contact center, Michels said.

"Cisco collaboration is emerging with a new view of unified communications, unified management and a more expansive role into productivity, which includes headsets, rooms, endpoints, applications and automation," he said.

Cisco does have challenges ahead, particularly in communicating these changes to new and long-term customers.

"They're an emerging SaaS player, but they're also a legacy vendor," he said. "How do you get users to upgrade?"

Learn more about how Cisco is pushing hardware growth.

Expanding voice recognition in collaboration

Collaboration is evolving as the focus shifts away from the method of collaboration and toward the people collaborating. This evolution is known as people-centric collaboration, according to Aragon Research analyst Ken Dulaney.

People-centric collaboration enables a meeting organizer to focus on the meeting participants and leave the system to determine the best method to connect everyone, Dulaney wrote in a recent blog. Voice recognition has the potential to elevate people-centric collaboration.

Some vendors are already using voice recognition for transcribing meetings, so participants don't need to take notes. While transcription capabilities are valuable, vendors could be taking mature voice recognition technology even further, Dulaney wrote.

For example, vendors could use voice recognition to identify interruptions and distractions, such as ringing phones, barking dogs or other background noise. The technology could identify which participants are producing distracting noise and filter them out, he wrote.

Read more about how Dulaney believes facial recognition technology could fit into collaboration.

Bringing AI to productivity suites

The addition of AI to productivity suites can improve the quality of employee work and efficiency. Zoho, a provider of online productivity software, is taking on AI with a range of integrations across its entire suite, which includes collaboration, CRM, HR and other business tools.

"Handwriting recognition, language detection, translation and optical character recognition will clearly improve the quality of communication and transaction processing throughout an internationally dispersed company," Opus Research analyst Dan Miller wrote in a blog.

AI can also simplify search capabilities. According to Zoho, its customers are generating 16 million searches per day. To wrangle those searches, Zoho needed an intelligent assistant that combines natural language understanding, analytics, forecasting and reporting, he wrote.

Zoho's Zia Search AI assistant presents a unified client portal in the Zoho One suite that can run searches through multiple apps, databases and public information on the internet. Zia Search is free to Zoho One users.

Read on to learn how Miller said Zoho is addressing AI privacy concerns.

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