Vonage Announces Chatbot for Workplace by Facebook

At Facebook's F8 Developer Conference taking place this week, UCaaS provider Vonage announced an integration of its new chatbot, Vee, for Workplace by Facebook.

The integration gives Workplace users a virtual assistant to create and manage artificial intelligence-powered conferencing, one of the lower hanging pieces of fruit for AI's use in enterprise communications. This is one of dozens of SaaS and bot integrations Facebook announced this week for Workplace; others include SaaS tools like Jira Cloud by Atlassian, Microsoft Sharepoint, ServiceNow, Adobe Sign and SurveyMonkey.

Communications 'Where' You Work

Vee for Workplace uses bot commands to tap into Vonage's Nexmo and UC APIs to give Workplace cloud communication features. These include the ability to initiate and manage conferencing and calling. Vonage Business Cloud customers can use Vee to receive real-time interactive call alerts, redial callers, and respond to calls with SMS while remaining within Workplace.

In addition, users can mention Vee in a team post to open a conference bridge. This capability is enabled through Workplace via a partnership with voice AI provider, Voicera. Users can access a number of quick reply buttons in Vee to highlight or add comments to a meeting transcript or recording. When the call ends, all users receive highlights, actions, and meeting analytics, all of which they can share with the Workplace team.

At many companies today, workers spend hours a day sifting through and managing the information in a wide variety of collaboration tools. By integrating with Workplace, Vonage brings communications to the place where workers convene, virtually, so they don't have to switch out of that commonly used tool just to communicate.

I've been watching this trend for well over a decade. For you old-timers, in the last paper edition of Business Communications Review (BCR), in December 2007, I wrote an article that discussed this very topic. Workers don't want more collaboration tools. Instead they want better collaboration functions in the applications they already use. It's taken the industry a long time to get here, but innovation like what Vonage is doing will certainly increase utilization.

Putting Vee to Work

To illustrate how Vee in Workplace can streamline communications, consider the following scenario of collaboration among a distributed team:

    During her morning commute, Erin uses her mobile phone to read an analyst review of her company's new product. It receives the highest rating the analyst has ever given. She is excited about this, and posts the link to her Digital Marketing group inside of Workplace with the comment, "Gamechanger!"

    When she gets to her desk, Erin opens Workplace and sees her post has already led to a lively discussion. She types @Vee to launch the application, then enters "Start conference" into the post and tags the team members she wants to participate in the call. Since everyone has read the review, they can begin a brainstorming session on how to best use it as soon as people join the call. The creative juices start flowing.

    Because Vee also conferenced in Voicera's in-meeting assistant to transcribe the call, no team member is burdened with the job of note-taking and can actively participate in the conversation. The ideas keep rolling in, and Eric uses Vee's integrated Voicera controls to highlight and comment on key parts of the discussion.

    During the call, Erin receives an inbound call alert from the company's CMO. Her team is in a great creative zone, so she decides to decline the inbound call rather than disrupt the session. Through Vee, she is able to quick text reply, "We're in the middle of developing an action plan right now, be back to you ASAP." (This last feature is for Vonage Business Cloud users only.)

    When the call terminates, Vee stores the recording and transcript in Workplace and automatically shares the link with all participants. Erin uses the integrated redial option in her call log to dial the CMO back and recount the plan she and her team developed in the brainstorming session. The company is now poised to capitalize on this opportunity. Vee integration with Workplace enabled Erin and her team to concentrate on the task at hand instead of having to manage collaboration tools.

Value Gained

The Vee integration with Workplace is a good example of the value created from Vonage's acquisition of Nexmo two years ago. I've talked to a number of industry people who questioned why Vonage purchased the cloud API company. Nexmo's voice APIs and Websocket technology provides access to audio streams to integrate conversations into applications and then analyze them in real time using AI, tying this all up in a nice package.

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