San Jose Calif. – August 6, 2019–Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) today announced its intent to acquire privately-held Voicea, headquartered in Mountain View, CA. Voicea is the creator of a market-leading real-time solution that provides meeting transcription, voice search, and meeting highlights/action items, with robust data privacy. It helps teams have more productive and actionable meetings by turning talk into action.
With Voicea technology, Cisco will enhance its Webex portfolio of products with a powerful transcription service that blends AI and Automated Speech Recognition (ASR) to unlock the power of any collaboration, like meetings and calls. Our first focus with Voicea is to turn meetings into a treasure trove of digital meeting notes and insights. Attendees and non-attendees can quickly gather the most relevant information from these digital notes and insights, turning a block of text into actionable information. Read the full news release from Cisco.
Analyst Take: It’s encouraging to see Cisco continue to invest in company’s like Voicea that can help take the Webex portfolio to the next level. After a few years where the product/service mix stalled a bit seeing formidable startups like Zoom and Slack enter the fray and steer marketshare away from the incumbents, Cisco is definitely back.
I attribute the recent and future success of Cisco Webex to three specific areas:
- Security and Privacy: Versus the above mentioned upstarts, Cisco is vastly more experienced and committed to engineering solutions that consider hardware and software security. Vulnerabilities that Slack and Zoom have seen are possible, but much less likely with Cisco solutions due to the company’s deep engineering bench.
- AI: Cognitive collaboration, social graph and the use of ML/AI to enhance the experience for Webex in the enterprise is a difference maker today. Microsoft with their Teams portfolio will be more formidable here than Zoom or Slack as Cisco’s head start and promising UX have put them out in front in terms of merging the power of analytics and AI with Collaboration.
- Enterprise Acceptance: Shadow IT has been a large contributor to the adoption of Slack and Zoom, but enterprise wide deployments require more support and often times tech that enters through shadow IT would never have been approved. Cisco is widely accepted by central IT and while that may not have been enough in recent years when solutions had significant gaps from new entrants, that is no longer the case as Webex has evolved to match or exceed what the upstart players are bringing.
In terms of the specifics of Voicea, meetings are a wasteland for many company’s and one of the biggest challenges is trying to collect all of the valuable data in real-time, then use the information and deploy as follow up to make sure the the content from the meeting is put into action. Using NLP to allow people to participate rather than feverishly taking notes will enhance meetings. Adding search, highlight and actions in a secure environment makes the solution enterprise quality.
Verdict: Smart Buy, Cisco
I believe this is the exact type of acquisition needed by Cisco to continue to push the Webex portfolio forward challenging incumbents and unicorn entrants alike. I remain bullish on the prospects of Cisco as data privacy and security continue to gain momentum. Companies and individuals alike seek applications that drive productivity without trivializing compliance and privacy so acquisitions like Voicea should accelerate the Cisco’s ability to support these enterprise demands in their product roadmap.
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The original version of this article was first published on Futurum Research.