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If Data Is King, AI Is Queen

AI is everywhere at Enterprise Connect 2019. Vendors are showcasing their AI-fueled features on the Expo floor and discussing the way forward with AI from the mainstage in panels and keynotes, and enterprise attendees are asking questions about it left and right in efforts to better understand how they can best put advanced intelligence to use in their organizations.
The old saying used to be that data is king. Data may be king, but I’d suggest that if we call data the king, then we make AI the queen and together they can rule the enterprise communications and collaboration kingdom -- from video collaboration to the contact center and beyond.
Day three of Enterprise Connect brought the AI discussion into sharp focus. The day kicked off with a series of three fireside chats with executives from industry challengers Zoom, RingCentral, and Twilio. Zoom CIO Harry Moseley struck a chord with his comment that AI isn’t about the technology, but rather how we’re leveraging the technology for people. The problem is that with all the hype and misdirection around AI, many enterprises don’t know how to do that -- which is one of drivers for vendors to incorporate more intelligence into their communications and collaboration products.
That was the big news from Cisco’s keynote today: It’s bringing what it calls “cognitive collaboration” to the masses inside of Webex, as Cisco Collaboration chief Amy Chang shared on stage this morning. By leveraging context and intelligence, Cisco is working to eliminate tedious tasks and provide insight that keeps people engaged. Via a new People Insights feature, Webex Meetings users can see curated professional profiles about meeting participants. To deliver this contextual information within Webex Meetings, Cisco scours the Web for publicly available information.
Elsewhere on the EC19 mainstage, Google Cloud keynoter Rany Ng, director of product management, emphasized how it has built AI into its G suite products in efforts to help people make the most of their time. She shared how features like Smart Reply and Smart Compose in Gmail shave time off tedious tasks, and a Nudging feature intelligently resurfaces messages for follow-up so users don’t have to worry as much about have action items fall through the cracks. AI can help everyone turn data into insights in its Sheets application so you “don’t even need to know what a pivot table is anymore,” Ng said (and thank goodness for that, because I didn’t even know what it was to begin with!). Google also showcased its real-time closed captioning of conversations that’s fueled by AI, of course.
Today also included Enterprise Connect’s first-ever mainstage panel on contact center and customer experience, and you can bet your sweet bippy (as my gramma always says) that AI came up in that panel discussion. The contact center has been a natural landing spot for AI, as enterprises tend to put a lot of weight and investment into differentiating through the customer experience they provide. Rowan Trollope, CEO of cloud contact center provider Five9, hit the nail on the head when he commented that AI is presenting a transformational moment for the whole industry. It’s especially valuable in the contact center because such organizations are the biggest source of data in enterprises, he added, and it’s letting us do things that we thought impossible.
So now that you have intelligence being integrated into the tools you use every day, get out there and be smart about how you engage and collaborate and make the best use of your time. Putting aside AI for the moment, speaking of using our time wisely, the Enterprise Connect Expo floor closes at 6:00 p.m. today, so make sure to get all your booth visits in before then so you can head to the Appreciation Party for some fun.