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This blog post is written by our guest, Irwin Lazar. Irwin develops and manages research projects, conducts and analyzes primary research, and advises enterprise and vendor clients on technology strategy, adoption and business metrics, Mr. Lazar is responsible for benchmarking the adoption and use of emerging technologies in the digital workplace, covering enterprise communications and collaboration as an industry analyst for over 20 years.

A Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and sought-after speaker and author, Mr Lazar is a blogger for NoJitter.com and contributor for SearchUnifiedCommunications.com, writing on topics including team collaboration, UC, cloud, adoption, SD-WAN, CPaaS, WebRTC, and more. He is a frequent resource for the business and trade press and is a regular speaker at events such as Enterprise Connect, InfoComm, and FutureIT. In 2017, he was recognized as an Emerging Technologies Fellow by the IMCCA and InfoComm.

AI-Powered Virtual Assistants

The rapid shift to work-from-home has drastically changed the way workgroups collaborate and meet. Gone are the days when the majority of meetings involved in-person gatherings in conference rooms and huddle spaces. Now, organizations are reliant on video-enabled meeting applications for the employee, and often customer, engagement.

To improve these virtual experiences, meeting vendors are rapidly investing in artificial-intelligence powered virtual meeting assistants to both increase in-meeting engagement, as well as to reduce the time required for carrying out post-meeting activities.

Virtual assistant features vary widely by the vendor, but common capabilities include:

  • Voice control for in-meeting actions such as meeting start, record, and end
  • Automated note-taking and transcription
  • Accessibility features such as closed captioning
  • Inclusive features such as real-time language translation
  • Automation of post-meeting activities including follow-up meeting scheduling and task assignment

 

The benefit of Intelligent Virtual Assistants to Improve Meeting Experiences

To analyze the potential benefits of virtual meeting assistants, Metrigy recently gathered data from 276 organizations in North America, finding that more than 43% are already using virtual meeting assistants. Adopters have found the following quantifiable benefits including:

  • Eliminating 10 to 18 minutes of per-meeting follow-up scheduling and task management
  • Reducing or eliminating costs associated with meeting transcription and translation (averaging $172 per-meeting, per language)
  • Improving team efficiency by storing meeting notes and transcripts within a team collaboration workspace for easy team follow-on access
  • Reduction of meeting time by up to 40% due to enabling more focused participation in meeting discussions by avoiding distractions associated with note-taking and trying to identify what the speaker said what

IT leaders considering virtual assistant capabilities have a variety of choices including leveraging virtual assistant features built-in to meeting platforms (for an additional fee or as part of a premiums license) or separately purchasing and implementing third-party services.

 

Use of Third-Party Apps

The use of third-party apps creates several compliances, governance, and security concerns. Chief among them is that using a third-party app means sharing meeting content, such as transcripts, notes, and files, outside of the enterprise meeting platform. This makes it difficult to ensure consistent security, data loss protection, and encryption controls for anything shared in or generated from a meeting. IT leaders participating in this study rated end-to-end encryption, and the ability to extend digital rights management (DRM) controls to meeting transcripts and other content, and their most important security features.

In addition, using third-party virtual assistants may limit the ability to integrate meeting content and workflows into team spaces. Leveraging a virtual assistant that is natively integrated into a team collaboration platform provides easy access to meeting participants and maintains all meeting content and notes within the context of an existing team space.

 

Cost & Saving Benefits of Virtual Assistants

The data gathered from those already implementing intelligent virtual assistants shows a clear potential benefit in terms of cost savings and productivity improvements.  IT leaders should conduct careful due diligence on potential solutions with an eye toward leveraging those that best integrate into their existing meeting platforms, and that easily enable the application of consistent security policies to meeting content.

 

This blog was originally written by Kim Nguyen for Cisco Blogs.

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