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Cisco on AI: The 'Future of Collaboration': Page 2 of 2

An Incremental Approach

As "unstoppable" a trend as AI may be, don't expect to see everything happen at once -- even given Cisco's ambitions to move as fast as the Starship Enterprise does at warp speed. But in the months following the close of the acquisition, do look for Cisco to start incorporating AI technology in products like the Spark bot, for example, in simple ways. "More and more dots will be connected over time, and in the 12- to 18-month time frame, you'll start to see things becoming really quite good," Meggers promised.

The goal, he added, is to "make every interaction better with intelligence."

This sentiment echoes what Meggers said on stage at Enterprise Connect. During his keynote presentation, Meggers used the evolution of transportable music players over the years as an example of how experience progresses over time.


The music-listening experience progression began with the boom box, evolved to a cassette player, then Walkman, then iPod, until finally today we are at a point where music files are streamed from the cloud to our personal smart devices. AI's progression in the enterprise will follow a similar path, Meggers said. "AI in collaboration is the next big thing. It's going to completely change how we do work. But that change will come slowly, you will not notice it; it will be incremental."

Investing in Cognitive Collaboration

While Meggers wasn't able to share how much of Cisco's R&D spend is earmarked for the Cognitive Collaboration group, he pointed to the $125 million spend on MindMeld as evidence of the company's commitment to AI development.

"AI is such a big deal in this industry -- and every industry -- that if you don't invest it in that would be a big mistake," Meggers said. "It would be like not installing an email client in '95, or not putting in a connection to the Internet in '92." Failing to invest organically in cognitive collaboration, in fact, could have meant Cisco would have "missed the boat" on delivering next-generation customer experiences.

Cisco may now have a stronger AI position with MindMeld, but the effort won't stop there. Moving forward, Cisco will continue to partner on AI, and may look to additional acquisitions, as well, Meggers said. "We always have three to five targets in our back pocket." No doubt, future acquisitions and partnerships will have a tie-in to Cisco's vision for AI.

At the end of the day, Cisco is looking to make teams more efficient and successful and drive shareholder value for enterprises, Meggers said. "It's what we're striving for, and we're bringing everything together with AI."

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