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Better Late Than Never: Cisco Leverages Generative AI to Reimagine Webex, Supercharge Communication

Written by: Martin Dale Bolima, Tech Journalist, AOPG.


Cisco has joined in on the generative AI trend, leveraging the highly popular innovation to supercharge its already useful and feature-packed Webex communication platform. With this move, Webex joins other platforms, like Microsoft Teams and Zoom, in using the power of AI to empower millions of its users worldwide.

“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 at 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.”

This new AI strategy promises to be comprehensive, spanning not only text and documents but also multimedia, including video and audio. It also aims to address common pain points in using communication platforms, notably poor-quality video, garbled audio, and more. To achieve these goals, Cisco has introduced five vital innovations to Webex — Real-Time Media Model, AI Audio Codec, Super Resolution Generative AI for Video, Webex AI Assistant, and Cisco Room Kit EQX.

Webex AI Assistant

Of these major announcements, Webex AI Assistant figures to be the game-changer of all game-changers, with new capabilities and features designed to boost productivity, efficiency, and accuracy. Among other things, this AI-powered agent can help recap meetings, identify important talking points, and more—all with simple prompts like, “What was discussed in the last 10 minutes” or “Catch me up on last Friday’s meeting.”

Real-Time Media Models

Webex’s new Real-Time Media Models (RMMs) enhance audio and video quality by taking multiple media streams and then producing several outputs, including action analytics, people and object recognition, and more. These will be vital in allowing users of the platform to have a nuanced understanding of what is going on in any meeting by having real-time access to visual and audible cues such as gestures. With RMMs, users will not only see or hear; they will actually gain insights and contexts that are often impossible to do with traditional audiovisual communication platforms.  They can even use these RMMs to capture meeting notes and request for summaries and highlights—both of which are critical in reviewing every and all meetings.

AI Audio Codec

Poor audio—whether garbled by poor connection, background noise, or similar issues—is among the major problems with using communication platforms. It also directly affects the meeting in a negative way and is one of the main reasons users miss out on important information. It also causes a great deal of frustration that can lead to a loss of interest. The new AI Codec in Webex solves this problem by utilising generative AI to enhance audio quality and deliver crystal-clear audio regardless of network conditions. Specifically, the AI Codec enables Webex to recover from network packet loss that usually causes poor audio while leveraging built-in speech enhancement functions, including noise removal and bandwidth extension, to deliver clear audio.

Super Resolution Generative AI for Video

Similarly, Webex will see improved video quality through the generative AI-powered Super Resolution feature. It will leverage the power of generative AI and machine learning to enhance every meeting’s video quality, delivering high-definition, crystal-clear video regardless of users’ bandwidth.

Cisco® Room Kit EQ

Users who want to level up their Webex experience further can access the Cisco® Room Kit EQ, an AI-powered collaboration device designed to provide the ultimate meeting and hybrid work experience. It includes a multi-lens Quad Camera, a powerful Codec EQ computing engine, and other equipment to enable the best video conferencing experience technology can provide. The best thing about it is that it can be used on any platform. It can be used in concert with three external displays to create high-quality and inclusive video meetings perfect for large settings, such as large conference rooms, boardrooms, and even auditoriums.

A Federated, Responsible Approach to AI

Cisco fully understands that not all Large Language Models (LLMs) are created equal and that some are better suited for a particular use case than others. Guided by this belief, Cisco will be leveraging best-in-class LLMs in a federated approach that combines commercial and open source with Cisco’s own and those of its selected customers. This approach, in turn, will bring about the best possible experiences and outcomes.

“There is a huge opportunity for AI to make collaboration more intelligent, secure, and inclusive today,” said Hana Raja, Managing Director, Cisco Malaysia. “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 that will help them streamline work.”

Just as important, Cisco is taking security, privacy, and human rights very seriously, which is why it is promising complete adherence to fairness, privacy, transparency, and accountability. This is why the company’s use of AI is guided by Cisco’s Responsible AI Framework, thereby ensuring security and data privacy across all use cases with AI.

Finally Joining the AI Bandwagon

That Cisco has introduced enhanced AI capabilities to Webex is not surprising at all. After all, practically every major communication and collaboration platform has done so, with Microsoft already introducing Copilot across its proprietary products and Zoom launching Zoom AI Companion in September. Even Slack has Slack AI and Slack GPT, while Google has Duet AI in Google Workspace.

Perhaps the question then is: Why only now?

The answer to that, of course, might be all sorts of interesting, and only Cisco knows the reason. But, at this point, it might be irrelevant to Webex users, who will be the ultimate beneficiaries of Cisco’s drive towards a more comprehensive AI strategy.