IBM and Cisco are partnering up to produce highly efficient enterprise applications that can compete against the likes of Microsoft and Slack, among others.

IBM's Verse, an email platform with social media, file sharing and analytics features; and Connections, a cloud-based collaboration suite much like Microsoft's Yammer (though, more Facebook-like), will be combining with Cisco's WebEx, an online conference application that is comparable with Skype, and Spark, a messenger app with conference capabilities and phone communication.

The first phase, which should launch by the end of this year, will combine these products and services to further boost the workflows in an office environment without the need to go through a number of steps and click to arrive at a result. IBM and Cisco were not keen, however, on sharing the specifics of what these collaborative efforts would bring.

"We are not disclosing the terms of the agreement but can say that both companies are committed to this and putting resources behind these offerings to ensure they are the best available for clients," according to Ed Brill, the vice president of collaboration solutions at IBM.

The second phase, in the meantime, will introduce machine learning and natural language processing artificial intelligence (AI), Watson, to the produced application suite by the companies, launching by February 2017. The Watson API will automate tasks for the users and will allegedly serve as an AI personal assistant.

Reports speculate that Watson will learn and study an office worker's routine and workflows, as well as peek in on conversations and email exchanges in Verse, Connections, WebEx and Spark, or the overall product implementation by IBM and Cisco.

Once the machine fully understands its user, it will be able to automate various tasks in different scenarios, that is, schedule an important meeting, provide supplemental documents and even record and transcribe a conference call for later use.

"A financial advisor could meet with a high-value investor over Cisco WebEx video utilizing a Watson service that offers real-time advice and handling tasks, while documents shared during the WebEx would be securely stored and available in IBM Connections," Brill describes in another example.

The companies will also reportedly open the Watson-powered application suite's API to third-party developers in the hopes of further improving the technology as well as creating a customized script that will suit a company's specific needs.

Details regarding packages and pricing are yet to be revealed, but the technology is highly appealing.

If this initiative would prove to be successful, an AI-powered enterprise system could really let IBM and Cisco stand up against the likes of well-established brands in the business industry. The expected seamless functionality available in the upcoming suite combined with the power of Watson does seem to be a perfect tool to help businesses boost its productivity and maximize on time.

Photo: Michael Coté | Flickr

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