No Jitter Roll: Five for Friday

In this edition of our weekly news round-up, we look at announcements around artificial intelligence (AI) and bots, contact center, APIs and integration, and video collaboration.

Avaya Invests in AI

Avaya this week announced investment in Cogito, a company focused on "emotional intelligence" for contact centers. Avaya's investment is part of Cogito's Series C financing round, and Cogito said it intends to use the funding to accelerate its go-to-market strategy, increase its research and development efforts, and expand its team.

Cogito is a member of Avaya's A.I.Connect developer program, launched about a year ago with a focus on building AI-driven customer engagement solutions. Cogito leverages AI to apply behavioral science to interactions, providing customer-facing agents with a fuller picture of emotional intelligence. As part of this investment, the two companies will accelerate their joint development work around the integration of Cogito's AI with Avaya's contact center solutions, with a goal of bringing capabilities to market faster, said Josh Feast, Cogito CEO, in a prepared statement.

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Vonage Unveils New APIs

Cloud communications provider Vonage this week announced the launch of two new APIs on its Nexmo API platform -- Messages API and Dispatch API -- that together make up an enterprise messaging solution for customer engagements.

Nexmo's Messages API enables businesses to access social chat applications like Facebook Messenger, Viber Service Messages, and WhatsApp, as well as SMS and MMS, for customer interactions. The Dispatch API allows businesses to then send messages in customized flows. For example, enterprises can set the system to failover from one channel to an alternative channel if a customer can't be reached within a specified timeframe. The idea is to enable businesses to connect with customers on the channels they find most engaging, Vonage said.

"With the growth of chat apps, it's important for businesses to have the ability to support multiple channels for customer engagement," said Mark Winther, VP telecom consulting for IDC, in a prepared statement. "The Nexmo Messages and Dispatch APIs allow brands to respond to this need while ensuring effectiveness and reliability of delivery."

Both APIs are currently in beta, in use to improve the customer experiences at several global customers. Early users include Aramex, a mail delivery and logistics services company, Vonage said.

BlueJeans Takes Video Meetings to the Browser

Cloud video services provider BlueJeans Network this week announced availability of BlueJeans Meetings in the Browser, a WebRTC-based browser experience for audio and video meetings that requires no download. The solution is aimed at organizations with a need to collaborate with third parties such as partners and customers, BlueJeans said.

The BlueJeans Meetings in the Browser offering includes a new Intelligent Join setting that allows meeting hosts to predetermine which meeting participants will be directed to download the client and which will be directed to join via a browser link.

Already supporting meetings on Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Opera browsers, BlueJeans has also added support for Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer.

PGi Ramps Up UC&C Platform Features

Enterprise collaboration provider PGi this week announced new features for its unified communication and collaboration platform, called GlobalMeet. It's rolling out the GlobalMeet Video Room Connector, which enables end users to connect to the GlobalMeet service from any existing video conferencing systems, including Cisco/Tandberg, LifeSize, Polycom, and others, via SIP and H.323 protocols. PGi said it has designed the connector with simplicity in mind, so users don't need to involve IT to get started.

Additionally, PGi unveiled GlobalMeet for Microsoft Teams, a "contextual integration" allowing users to launch GlobalMeet audio, video, and Web conferences from within Teams. This, in turn, allows them to focus on productive work rather than meeting logistics, PGi said.

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Freshworks Launches AI Bot Platform

Freshworks, a provider of customer engagement software, this week launched an "omnibot" AI engine, called Freddy, aimed at enhancing an enterprise's customer-facing operations like sales, support, and marketing. Branded to look and feel like a canine (as shown on right), Freddy leverages Google's AI technology, Google Assistant, to help organizations more efficiently resolve customer issues with the use of human and machine-based voice interactions, Freshworks said.

Freddy is available in all Freshworks customer engagement products, able to learn from customer interaction records so it can automatically reply to common queries -- whether in email, chat, voice calls, or social media.

In addition to offering channel-agnostic contextual self-service to customers, the Freddy AI engine can be used for agent assistance. Further, customers using Freshworks' CRM product can use Freddy for "auto calibrating" available leads in the sales pipeline, Freshworks said.

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