Cisco’s Pending Voicea Buy Reinforces Webex Commitment
Cisco says it’s buying Voicea, the AI-powered voice collaboration vendor, whose technology it will add to its Webex family portfolio once the deal closes — expected before the end of October.
Since Cisco Partner Summit 2018, held last November, when Cisco rolled out new collaboration integrations and products to bolster product demand and dissipate user disappointment, the company has been on a mission to up its collaboration game. The acquisition of Voicea fits into Cisco’s vision of cognitive collaboration, interoperability and workplace transformation through combining the power of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, software, hardware and the network to remove friction and get work done faster and smarter, the company said.
“Voicea’s true market-leading technology will be a game changer for our Webex customers to experience more productive and actionable meetings,” said Amy Chang, senior vice president and general manager, Cisco Collaboration.
Voicea voice collaboration technology leverages the power of AI to mimic real human brain function and improve productivity in the workplace. Voicea’s EVA – enterprise virtual assistant and productivity tool – attends meetings, captures the important highlights and delivers them to the company teams. EVA does that through meeting transcription, voice search, and meeting highlights/action items, with data privacy.
In March 2018, Voicea closed $20 million Series A ($13.5 million in new money) financing backed by leading venture capital, enterprise and collaboration players, including Cisco Investments.
Cisco noted that its intent to acquire privately held Voicea reinforces its commitment to make Webex the collaboration platform of choice. Using Voicea technology, Cisco said it will enhance its Webex portfolio of products with a powerful transcription service that blends AI and automated speech recognition (ASR) to unlock the power of any collaboration, such as meetings and calls.
“Our first focus with Voicea is to turn meetings into a treasure trove of digital meeting notes and insights. Attendees and non-attendees can quickly gather the most relevant information from these digital notes and insights, turning a block of text into actionable information,” the company said.
Sri Srinivasan, senior vice president and general manager, who leads the Webex portfolio team, talked about the possibilities of combining transcription (EVA) and conversational AI (Webex Assistant) engines.
“When you combine these two powerful engines you have an intelligent meeting assistant for every one of your meetings. Meetings users can see the live transcription, publish effective meeting summaries and highlights, and also capture and automate action items. Workflows can be pushed automatically through voice command’s into systems of record like Salesforce, Trello, Teams, Jira and Asana, thereby creating uninterrupted work streams,” he wrote in a blog.
Cisco said that transcription services are table stakes for Meetings; Voicea features enable Cisco to leapfrog basic transcription and enhance the power of the Webex platform. Transcription services are an add-on feature, a value-added service partners can take to market and deliver superior customer outcomes.
Cisco and Voicea will function as two separate companies until the deal closes. After the closing, Cisco will integrate Voicea into its products as smoothly as possible and will keep partners informed about as it develops product road maps, the company said.