Cisco, IBM integrate communication tools to build networking platform for organisations

Global technology majors Cisco ad IBM on Thursday announced their first partnership product, integrating Cisco's Spark team communications and WebEx conferencing tools with IBM Verse email and Connections social network platform solutions.

IBM and Cisco said they would be integrating their enterprise collaboration solutions to build an intelligent layer with insight from the IBM Watson advanced analytics platform.

The two companies are going to marry these products so that they work together and then add Watson, IBM's machine learning technology to it all.

The idea is that employees will save time by having Watson provide them with insights and information based on the context of the conversations they are having, and by studying their work history. It might, for instance, surface relevant documents or apps, or make suggestions of other employees to connect with.

IBM and Cisco had, on 2 June, announced a global collaboration to provide instant Internet of Things (IoT) insight at the edge of the network, which will help businesses and organisations in remote and autonomous locations tap the combined power of IBM's Watson IoT and business analytics technologies and Cisco's edge analytics capabilities to more deeply understand and act on critical data on the network edge.

With billions of interconnected devices and sensors gathering vast amounts of real-time data about the physical world, cloud computing has offered companies a powerful way of storing that data and turning it into valuable insight. But for businesses without easy access to high bandwidth connectivity, these capabilities are sometimes out of reach or take too long.

To address the problem, IBM and Cisco have joined forces to offer a new way to produce immediate, actionable insight at the point of data collection. The new approach is designed to target companies operating on the edge of computer networks such as oil rigs, factories, shipping companies and mines, where time is of the essence but bandwidth is often lacking.

"This platform will capture and understand not only our documents, but also the way we work," Jens Meggers, SVP and GM of Cisco's Cloud Collaboration Technology Group, wrote in a Cisco Blogs post. "This integrated platform will leverage the power of Watson to analyze the unstructured data in our conversations, content, and workflows, providing insights and expertise to continuously improve the way we work. Together, we're creating an intelligent fabric that connects all collaboration workloads. I like to call it 'Intelligent Collaboration.'"

Once this combined solution is available, a team of doctors collaborating in a Watson-infused Spark room could tap into health analytics knowledge as they work on their patient diagnosis. Or, an engineer working on a product design through IBM Verse email could click to launch a WebEx meeting with team members. Everybody on the email thread immediately gets the WebEx call, and when the meeting can move seamlessly from email to a collaborative conference call, and Watson intelligence can be carried throughout the progression.

In a press release, the companies said they expect new classes of solutions to emerge out of a partner ecosystem built around the joint solution. "For example, a financial advisor could meet with a high value investor over Cisco video with a Watson service offering real-time advice and handling tasks, while files would be securely stored and available in IBM Connections, shared through WebEx for a seamless transaction."