Hey Alexa, Siri and Cortana: Cisco says you’re bad at business

Borg thinks own Spark voice assistant knows how to behave in the office, but we've seen it and … meh

VID Cisco will shortly give the world a voice assistant it believes has a shot at making life uncomfortable for Siri, Cortana and Alexa in the office.

The company’s effort won’t be a general-purpose bot. Instead the company plans to make it a part of its Spark collaboration portfolio and have it do things like place calls, find documents and open meetings.

The assistant was announced in November 2017, but The Reg today beheld a live demo of the tool at Cisco Live in Melbourne. Forgive us the shot-on-a-phone handheld footage, but here’s what Cisco feels is fit for public consumption.

Youtube Video

Cisco’s senior veep and general manager of applications Rowan Trollope told the event that “existing voice assistants that have traction - none of them were built for business. They were built for the consumer domain. That is a totally different domain space to the one we are interested in.”

“Those are very, very specific use cases and have their own domain and lingo.”

Robot maid

Talk down to Siri like it's a mere servant – your safety demands it


Trollope said feats like those in the video above – such as finding the particular people called “Michael” you are likely to want to call – aren’t the sort of things consumer-focussed AI assistants are likely to achieve.

Cisco therefore thinks it can combine its strong positions in collaboration hardware and software into an AI play.

“We think there is a great opportunity to do that kind of AI in business,” Trollope said.

But he couldn’t or wouldn’t say when Cisco would do it: the demo above was described as a prototype, was presented by one of the team working on it and promised to become part of an update to Cisco’s Spark suite rather than earning a major launch in its own right.

Trollope also mentioned that Cisco's partnership with Apple could see Spark and Siri strike up a conversation, because he doesn't feel this is a winner-takes-all market. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics

Narrower topics

Other stories you might like

  • Cisco execs pledge simpler, more integrated networks
    Is this the end of Switchzilla's dashboard creep?

    Cisco Live In his first in-person Cisco Live keynote in two years, CEO Chuck Robbins didn't make any lofty claims about how AI is taking over the network or how the company's latest products would turn networking on its head. Instead, the presentation was all about working with customers to make their lives easier.

    "We need to simplify the things that we do with you. If I think back to eight or ten years ago, I think we've made progress, but we still have more to do," he said, promising to address customers' biggest complaints with the networking giant's various platforms.

    "Everything we find that is inhibiting your experience from being the best that it can be, we're going to tackle," he declared, appealing to customers to share their pain points at the show.

    Continue reading
  • Datacenter networks: You'll manage them from the cloud, eventually, claims Cisco
    Nexus portfolio undergoes cloudy Software-as-a-Service revamp

    Cisco's Nexus Cloud will eventually allow customers to manage their datacenter networks entirely from the cloud, says the networking giant.

    The company unveiled the latest addition to its datacenter-focused Nexus portfolio at Cisco Live this week, where the product set got a software-as-a-service (SaaS) revamp.

    "It's targeted at network operations teams that need to manage, or want to manage, their Nexus infrastructure as well as their public-cloud network infrastructure in one spot," Cisco's Thomas Scheibe – VP product management, cloud networking for Nexus & ACI product lines – told The Register.

    Continue reading
  • If you're using older, vulnerable Cisco small biz routers, throw them out
    Severe security flaw won't be fixed – as patches released this week for other bugs

    If you thought you were over the hump with Patch Tuesday then perhaps think again: Cisco has just released fixes for a bunch of flaws, two of which are not great.

    First on the priority list should be a critical vulnerability in its enterprise security appliances, and the second concerns another critical bug in some of its outdated small business routers that it's not going to fix. In other words, junk your kit or somehow mitigate the risk.

    Both of these received a CVSS score of 9.8 out of 10 in severity. The IT giant urged customers to patch affected security appliances ASAP if possible, and upgrade to newer hardware if you're still using an end-of-life, buggy router. We note that miscreants aren't actively exploiting either of these vulnerabilities — yet.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022