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Cisco redefines AI; launches Webex AI Strategy to bolster productivity

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At WebexOne, Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) today announced a new AI strategy for Webex that will improve communication and collaboration. Unlike AI offerings that solely focus on text or documents, Webex will use real-time communications for audio and video to solve everyday challenges, such as ensuring crystal-clear audio and video calls and meetings despite low bandwidth. Today, Cisco also announced the launch of its new Webex AI Assistant with new capabilities that will bolster productivity and accuracy for customers. The Webex AI strategy and Webex AI Assistant will be applied across the full Webex portfolio — The Webex Suite, Cisco Collaboration devices, Webex Contact Center, Webex Connect and Webex Control Hub. Customers like McLaren Racing and Team DSM are testing Webex’s new AI capabilities.

“We’re at the tipping point of a new era of hybrid work, with AI holding the key to helping us bridge the gap and enable us all to work and communicate to our full potential,” said Jeetu Patel, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Cisco Security and Collaboration. “Our Webex platform has long enabled our rapid pace of innovation. Today’s announcement is a monumental step forward, as customers will benefit from AI being pervasive in every aspect of the Webex platform.”

“There is a huge opportunity for AI to make collaboration more intelligent, secure, and inclusive today,” said Zaza Soriano-Nicart, Managing Director, Cisco Philippines. “Companies in the Philippines continue to grapple with the challenge of ensuring that the employee experience remains consistent, regardless of where they work. Our innovations seek to level the playing field for all employees and unlock new levels of productivity by delivering a seamless meeting experience and a new set of AI-powered capabilities to streamline work.”

Introducing Real-Time Media Models
Visual and audible cues like gestures and walking out of the room during a meeting provide invaluable context about human interactions. Cisco’s new Real-Time Media Models (RMMs) in Webex will enhance audio and video quality. The models have the ability to take multiple media streams and produce multiple outputs, such as people and object recognition and action analytics like movement and gestures. RMMs in Webex will also enable audio and video channels to be used as signals of context in traditional text-based capabilities like meeting summaries and highlights. By uniquely fusing together AI for text, audio and video, Webex users will benefit from rich real-time insights. For example, in the future, Webex may be able to recognize that a meeting participant stepped away from a meeting, and capture meeting notes to bring that person up to speed when they return.

New Webex AI Codec Helps Customers Achieve New Levels of Audio & Video Quality
People are regularly impacted by network impairments, which may have a direct impact on calls and meetings. For example, a user may experience disruption when connecting from their car, a hotel room, or a rural area with poor connectivity. Choppy audio or video often derails conversations and frustrates people — from meeting participants to customers calling into a business’ contact center.

Cisco is unveiling a new AI Codec in Webex, a new generative AI solution that will redefine real-time communication and solve the challenge of audio quality. The audio Codec aims to deliver crystal-clear audio regardless of network conditions, even in areas with spotty connections. Webex’s efficiency with its AI Codec allows for massive transmission redundancy to recover from network packet loss. Webex AI Codec also has built-in speech enhancement functions like noise removal, de-reverberation and bandwidth extension, to deliver unprecedented audio clarity.

Webex will similarly apply machine learning techniques to improve video quality using Super Resolution. It will deliver high-definition meetings with amazing video quality regardless of bandwidth conditions.

Webex AI Assistant Helps Workers and Customers
The newly launched Webex AI Assistant will power a robust set of capabilities that empower people to do their best work. It will also minimize work and costs for IT, ultimately driving business value. Webex AI Assistant will prompt users with questions, like “ask me about the meeting,” that users can respond to with typing sentences, such as “catch me up on the 15 minutes I missed in the meeting” or “catch me up on all the meetings I missed on Friday while I was on PTO,” to generate answers in real-time. Webex AI Assistant is already natively integrated into Cisco Collaboration devices and will span the Webex portfolio. New Webex AI Assistant capabilities will include:

Change Message Tone provides recommended changes to tone, format, phrasing in Webex Messaging and Slido. For example, the Webex AI Assistant may suggest changing a blunt response like “this isn’t good; rework the summary,” to a more professional option of “this is a fantastic document, but the upfront summary could use some improvement.”

Suggested Responses to messages for contact center agents responding to customers on digital channels. Suggestions of text are informed by context history and surrounding intelligence.

Meeting Summaries will help users catch up on missed portions of meetings or entire meetings in real-time, with an easily digestible summary of what was missed. Meeting Summaries will be organized into chapters and highlights. With chapters, people can skip to various topics. For example, they may prefer to focus in-depth on the written portion of the finance discussion, then watch a brief video that summarizes the focus of the meeting in its entirety.

Message Summaries help people stay up to date by recapping unread messages or recapping spaces. They are customized, so a user can ask Webex AI Assistant to summarize messages from their boss in a space that contains messages from multiple people, for example.

Slido Topic Summaries generate common topics shared in interactive Q&A and polling during virtual and hybrid events for participants to easily navigate what’s trending.

These new capabilities are in various stages of availability, with shipping planned to begin before the end of 2023.

Harnessing the Best Large Language Model Based on Use Case

Understanding that certain Large Language Models (LLMs) will be better suited than others based on the use case and training, Webex will use a combination of best-of-breed models. Webex’s federated approach combines commercial, open source, Cisco-proprietary and select customer models to deliver the best possible experience.

Cisco’s Approach to Responsible AI

Cisco has leveraged AI with natural language, audio intelligence, video intelligence and analytics for years—all designed with attention to security, privacy and human rights built in from the start. Realizing AI’s significant promise while adhering to standards for transparency, fairness, accountability, privacy, security and reliability is an ongoing mission at Cisco. This is the promise of Cisco’s Responsible AI Framework, which applies to our AI offerings. The Webex AI strategy and Webex AI Assistant capabilities are secure and align with Cisco’s Responsible AI Framework.

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