As part of Cisco Live 2024, Cisco announced current and upcoming hybrid work and contact centre capabilities that demonstrate great strength in both areas.

On the surface the announcements appear as a hodgepodge of capabilities. However, closer examination reveals that the hybrid work announcements intermingle to make employees more productive and thus add greater value to their organisations, and the contact centre announcements collude to help agents deliver a better customer experience and raise customer satisfaction.

The announcements addressing the contact centre possess sharper teeth. Contact centres have been undergoing a profound transformation with the concept of a ‘contact centre’ yielding to the broader concept of ‘customer experience.’ Contact centres are converting from agent-centric to including self-service, from reactive to proactive, from transaction-oriented to relationship-oriented, and from generic to deeply personalised. Vendors, including Cisco, have introduced a range of capabilities to help organisations make the transition.

Help for contact centre agents

This latest round of contact centre features goes far to help agents be more impactful. Most are currently in beta or will be. For example, dropped call summaries, wrap-up summaries, and suggested responses make agents more efficient and enable them to better address customer inquiries when receiving a hand-off from a virtual agent. With respect to virtual agents a native conversational voice virtual agent will let customers design and manage their own self-service agents and a bring-your-own virtual agent will enable customers to take an agent they already use and integrate it with other native and third-party tools.

Cisco is also providing support for contact centre managers. Topic analysis (coming soon to beta) identifies top call drivers. Automatic CSAT scores (currently in beta) measure how well agents are performing with automatically generated customer satisfaction scores. Agent wellness (which should be available in H2 2024) helps detect agent burnout and recommends a course of action.

Cisco support for hybrid work

The round of hybrid work announcements serves to further cement Cisco as a premier vendor in that space by making workers more productive. Some of the announcements are especially intriguing. Cisco Webex AI Assistant’s custom dictionaries (beta in H2 2024) will enable organisations to incorporate internal terms and acronyms into Cisco Webex AI Assistant so it can produce more relevant meeting summaries and action items.

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Cisco Webex AI Assistant for Developers (available later in 2024) enables developers to more rapidly identify Generative AI (GenAI)-powered coding assistant tools that will allow them to customise their Webex instances with integrations and the like. Cisco Spaces with ‘Desk Reservation’ (available June 2024) permits users to find and reserve a workspace at a given location whether they are onsite or not. Cisco Live 2024 makes it clear that Cisco is continuing its differentiated approach to collaboration. It consists of equal parts hybrid work, customer experience, and devices. None of Cisco’s rivals strike that same balance. Cisco sits well-positioned going forward.