People are getting frustrated with online and video meetings. In fact, according to a recent survey, 85% say they are challenged with these types of poor experiences and 74% say they’re not too happy about it. Audio problems, difficulty connecting, mismatched devices, not knowing if the camera is even on – these are the roadblocks that are preventing people from taking full advantage of this dynamic and vital communication technology. People are hanging up on something that they actually, genuinely wanted to work. That’s such a waste of potential. People potential and economic potential. All shrugged away because of the hassle.
In March 2019, the technology market research company Dimensional Research released the results of a survey on the topic of workplace collaboration. Touching over 1,500 respondents across many industries, it consisted of 27 questions dealing largely with the challenges experienced by people trying to use technology when having meetings. The responses to the questions were striking in their uniformity and can best be illustrated by this pie chart, one of many similar-looking charts in the results document. Those are some large slices!
In response to every question posed on the survey, the overwhelming sentiment was that current setups are unsatisfactory and that meetings would be more effective if new techniques and technologies were made available. The survey results make it blatantly obvious. Today’s audio and video conferencing solutions are simply not working effectively. What people need is something that makes them more productive to meet the demands of today’s marketplace.
Moving ahead with true “cognition”
This is great news to us at Cisco, since the problems the respondents identified can all be resolved through cognitive collaboration. Look at this laundry list of complaints:
- Nearly 30% of respondents spend up to 5 hours every week researching information, people, and the companies those people meet with. That’s a lot of manual, wasted time.
- Over 50% of people say LinkedIn doesn’t provide them with enough information about the people they meet with in online meetings. (This is largely because LinkedIn data is static and relies on individuals to update their own profiles.)
- 1 out of 4 respondents spend over 50% of their day in audio/video meetings…EACH DAY!
- 43% have felt frustration in the last week because they couldn’t easily join an online meeting.
- One third of respondents say they frequently struggle to connect their device to the room screen.
- 70% of people who set up meetings say participants arrive late.
Now is not the time for any company to answer these complaints with a Band-Aid solution. It might seem helpful to say, “we have improved signal quality or audio quality on your web conferences,” but that simply patches over a problem. It does not move the dial forward.
We realized a while ago that what is truly needed here is a genuinely intelligent solution. More than just intelligent, actually. People need technology that is cognitive; technology that knows what’s going on and can pro-act accordingly; technology that can take the best of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing and work with people to remove the guesswork and obstacles involved in collaboration and replace it with smooth, contextually-aware assistance.
That’s what Cisco’s cognitive collaboration technology does to push the evolution of the workplace into a new realm. Once again, the respondents support this initiative. According to the same survey:
- 9 out of 10 respondents say they are willing to adopt cognitive collaboration solutions “as soon as possible!”
- 66% say they would switch vendors to get an intelligent online meeting solution.
- 70% say they would immediately start using intelligent online meeting solutions like a virtual assistant or one that provides deep insights about attendees.
- 50% would actually argue with their boss about consistently using the right audio/video meeting tool. That’s passion!
These are not just nice-to-have ideas. People are confirming they want real practical help:
- 87% see immediate value for an online meeting virtual assistant.
- 88% feel they’d be more efficient if a meeting room solution automatically showed action items and relevant documents.
- 82% say that if a meeting solution tracked assigned action items, it would increase action item completion.
Know who you’re dealing with
But there’s something else. There are new needs on the customers’ shopping list. For a start, people want to know more about those they are working with. Nearly two-thirds of respondents say having background information readily available on meeting attendees would increase meeting effectiveness. This would include:
- attendee’s title and primary responsibilities (80% say this would be valuable)
- attendee’s reporting structure (59% say this would be valuable)
- attendee’s career history (49% say this would be valuable)
Cisco has this covered. In 2017 we acquired Accompany, whose approach to up-to-date contact information was a market game-changer and is now part of the Cisco cognitive collaboration suite.
The same can be said about advances in interactive voice assistant technology. The respondents provided great insight as to how they would use a business-focused virtual assistant like Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant to perform tasks such as:
- taking meeting notes (60%)
- providing alerts to upcoming meetings (52%)
- checking attendee calendars and scheduling follow-up meetings (50%)
- transcribing the meeting (50%)
- sending follow-up emails (49%)
- distributing action items (43%)
- adding new attendees, even after the meeting has started (38%)
With our development of conversational AI, we have built a solution that delivers the “Alexa experience” into the enterprise world, once again giving professionals access to a seamless and intelligent relationship with technology and time.
Taking care of external customers too
In addition to improving communications with internal colleagues and meeting attendees, there is strong demand for improved techniques for customer care and for engaging customers in a complex environment. According to a recent Aberdeen study [Maximize your results by working better together: Bridge the silos in your business, March 2019]:
- Over 60% of call centers use 7 or more systems to interact with customers
- 44% manually integrate data using spreadsheet software
- 57% say this prevents them from producing timely or accurate analysis
- 47% say it takes as long to gather the data as to analyze it.
Cisco’s cognitive collaboration solution removes disconnected, outdated experiences and replaces them with real-time, highly personalized ones that ensure each customer feels completely looked after at a much higher level of familiarity.
Cisco’s reputation for cognitive collaboration is already growing
You will hear more about the game-changing cognitive collaboration suite from Cisco. It has already started getting accolades from industry analysts like Info-Tech, Channel Asia, and all kinds of respected industry analysts.
In my opinion, it’s quite an achievement to develop something that solves numerous long-standing problems and frustrations easily. It’s also quite an achievement to create an innovative application that allows people to do things in a new way. But it’s a definite home run when you can prove you have a solution that does both.
By Arun Ravichandran, Cisco Blog