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Cisco adds AI to Spark collaboration platform with MindMeld buy

Cisco plans to use MindMeld’s AI platform to enhance its Spark platform and other enterprise collaboration solutions

Cisco has announced its intention to buy California-based artificial intelligence (AI) platform developer MindMeld to enhance its Spark collaboration portfolio by introducing new conversational interfaces for its office products.

MindMeld specialises in applying machine learning to help users better interact with voice and chat assistants. Cisco said it plans to use these to bring voice AI and natural language commands to the enterprise meeting room, where it is already close to having a ubiquitous presence.

Cisco, for its part, already uses AI and machine learning in a number of its enterprise offerings, including Stealthwatch, Spark Board, and Spark Room Kit, and is working on capabilities that will eventually enable autonomous network and datacentre management, predictive security and analytics, and so on.

“The workplace of the future is one powered by AI,” said Rowan Trollope, senior vice-president of Cisco’s internet of things and applications group.

“This is a significant step towards making that workplace a reality. Integrating MindMeld into the Cisco Spark platform will transform how users interact in Cisco Spark Spaces, Cisco Spark Meetings, and Cisco Spark Care.”

At close, expected during the fourth quarter of Cisco’s financial year, MindMeld’s team will form the core of a new Cognitive Collaboration team in Cisco’s Cloud Collaboration group, led by senior vice-president and general manager Jens Meggers.

A number of other suppliers, including Microsoft, Oracle and Salesforce, have already introduced AI into their own collaboration platforms, but besides enabling users to interact with collaboration technology in a more natural way, AI and machine learning technologies are beginning to become established in other areas of networking and communications technology.

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Spanish mobile network operator Telefónica, which runs the O2 network in the UK, is one firm using AI to capture anonymised data on how a number of its worldwide networks are being used by customers, to offer per-service-per-user insight into the customer experience.

Meanwhile, attendees at HPE-owned Aruba’s annual Atmosphere event in May 2017 heard how the technology is proving its mettle in the field of network management and monitoring, where it can be used to sift through network data to detect abnormal usage patterns that humans may be unable to spot – patterns that could indicate anything from a switch that may be about to fail, to a dangerous security breach.

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