No Jitter Roll: Five for Friday
Well it's officially March, and while some may associate this time of year with the soon-to-arrive spring season, for us folks in enterprise communications, the month means one thing: Enterprise Connect time! With the event just over a week away, it's high time for a little prep. So take a few minutes to catch up on some of the recent notable developments from Google, RingCentral, BlueJeans, Voicera, Cisco, Avaya Zang, and World Wide Technology (WWT). This week's announcements cover everything from team collaboration to speech technologies, workflows, and software-defined WAN (SD-WAN).
Google & RingCentral Move on Team Collaboration
Google has taken its Hangouts Chat team collaboration solution out of beta and into general availability as a core G Suite service, the company announced via its corporate blog. Hangouts Chat enables teams to collaborate in virtual rooms with threaded conversations, through direct messages and group conversations. Integration with other G Suite apps allows users to share content and co-create in Docs, Sheets, or Slides, as well as hold online meetings with Hangouts Meet.
Hangouts Chat can host up to 8,000 members per room, supports 28 languages, and is available for Windows and MacOS desktops as well as on iOS and Android mobile devices. Hangout Chat supports:
- Artificial intelligence (AI) for tasks like booking conference rooms and searching for files
- Enterprise-grade security for reliability and compliance requirements
- Ability to export data using Google's Vault archiving service
- Bots for speeding up workflows
By way of bots, Google announced that Chat comes equipped with 25 ready-to-use bots that are aimed at speeding up workflows. For example, the @Meet bot integrates with Calendar to schedule meetings for users and the @GoogleDrive bot lets users know when files are shared or comments are made on documents.
Enterprises can also build Chat integrations with other business applications or tools. And many popular enterprise application companies have already developed bots for users to try. Communications-oriented players who have developed bots include Dialpad, RingCentral, Uberconference, and Vonage.
RingCentral's integration leverages the RingCentral Connect Platform to bring enterprise-grade calling and video meeting capabilities to Hangouts Chat, as the company announced. Hangout Chat Users can access RingCentral capabilities via an add-on bot using the @ command.
BlueJeans Network and Voicera Partner
In an effort to deliver a modern meeting experience, cloud video provider BlueJeans Network has partnered with voice AI company Voicera to make its AI assistant, Eva, available for in-meeting transcription on the BlueJeans platform.
"Meetings are the perfect environment for digital assistants where mundane tasks like note-taking can be automated and the strategic skills are left to the human participants," said Steve Weinstock, senior manager of business development and integration partnerships at BlueJeans, in a prepared statement."
When invited to participate in a meeting, Eva can take notes, highlight key moments, and record and transcribe meetings into searchable transcripts, Weinstock told me in a No Jitter briefing. As of now, users need to prompt Eva to take action via voice command or through clicking a "highlight" button in the user interface, but over time, Voicera intends to make Eva more intelligent so it can take action automatically, as Shadi Baqleh, chief revenue officer, told me.
To use Eva, BlueJeans users must sign up with Voicera. They can try out the voice capability for free until the product officially launches in May, at which point they'll have to pay somewhere between $10 to $20 per user, per month, Baqleh said.
Cisco Integrates WebEx with Ford
Cisco has partnered with Ford to integrate WebEx capabilities with Ford SYNC AppLink, enabling users to join and participate in meetings from their vehicles using voice commands and the vehicle dashboard display. This move is aimed at making commutes more productive, as Javed Khan, VP and GM of Cloud Collaboration Technology at Cisco, explained in a Cisco Blogs post.
In addition to voice commands, drivers of Ford vehicles can use steering-wheel buttons to join and control WebEx meetings. From the Ford SYNC 3 touchscreen display users can tap to join, mute, unmute, or leave a meeting. The beta release for Android will be available at the end of March, with iOS available at the end of April, Cisco said.
Moving forward, Cisco plans to make this capability available to other car manufacturers so that even more people can connect and have meetings while on the go, the company said. Specifically, Cisco is targeting manufacturers that adopt the SmartDeviceLink open-source smartphone app interface software. These manufacturers include Subaru, Toyota, Mazda, PSA, and Suzuki, Cisco said.
Avaya Zang Releases Workflow Updates
Avaya has launched a series of updates for Zang Workflow, its graphical design tool for building communications apps and workflows. The workflow updates include a suite of new features aimed at enabling businesses to communicate more quickly and directly among teams and to customers. The six additions are:
- Arrow Connect IoT tasks -- enables users to integrate sensors and smart devices into new and existing workflows
"One of the biggest roadblocks to the successful rollout of IoT is its complexity," said Andrew Prokop, director of emerging technologies at Arrow SI, Enterprise Connect presenter, and No Jitter contributor, in a prepared statement. "Developers have been forced to deal with a myriad of protocols, sensors, platforms, and transports. Now, with IoT-enabled Zang, the marriage of smart technologies and cloud communications is as easy as drag and drop. If you can draw your idea on a whiteboard, you can have an IoT solution up and running in as little as a few minutes."
- New tasks -- for adding participants, sending MMS messages, recording and transcribing calls, playing recordings, and using speech recognition
- Template-based workflows -- to help jumpstart development projects
- Custom events -- enables developers to add phone calls or SMS inside user workflows
- Definition of properties -- a new tool for defining properties of workflows, aimed at helping keep projects on time and on budget
- Invoking of Workflows from REST client -- in support of an increasingly popular API model
WWT Launches SD-WAN Managed Service
Technology solutions provider WWT yesterday announced an SD-WAN managed service called Branch of the Future. With this offering, WWT aims to help enterprises simplify their network operations to enable them to respond to change and innovate more easily, the company stated in its press materials.
Branch of the Future builds on Cisco Meraki, a cloud architecture for deploying, managing, and monitoring Wi-Fi routing and security appliances in branch office locations. WWT is targeting its managed SD-WAN service at highly distributed enterprises that need help dealing with challenges like a lack of business metric visibility, poor customer experiences, and difficulty providing IT requirements for remote office locations.
WWT leverages its enterprise network engagement suite, Thelios, to provide the data visibility component of the Branch of the Future offering. In addition, the managed service includes installation and implementation with 24/7 proactive monitoring and management, the company said.
Learn more about all these topics at Enterprise Connect 2018, March 12 to 15, in Orlando, Fla. Register now using the code NOJITTER to save an additional $200 off the Regular Rate or get a free Expo Plus pass.