Cisco Buys Conversational Intelligence Provider Voicea
By Jim Lundy and Samra Anees
The web and video conferencing market has been ripe for disruption and with Cisco’s move to buy Voicea, the shift to intelligent meetings is underway. Aragon has been covering the Intelligent Content Analytics market since 2017 and voice analytics, sometimes called conversation intelligence, is growing at a rapid pace.
While this blog is about Cisco’s deal to buy Voicea, we’d note that Vonage also announced a deal yesterday to buy voice AI platform provider Over.ai.
Why Did Cisco Buy Voicea?
First, the deal does not get finalized until FY 2020, but the real reason for buying Voicea is that businesses need to know what is happening in calls and meetings so that they can react faster to changing circumstances. Voice analytics is a growing market and the ability to understand what happens in a meeting as well as get automatic notes from the meeting means that there is more automation and more value from the meeting itself.
What is Conversational Intelligence (CI)?
Conversational intelligence, also known as voice analytics, quantifies attributes of spoken language and uses them to provide insights from and creates context for conversations. This means that speakers can be identified and the things they say can be transcribed and identified for follow-up actions. While meeting transcription is important, it is really more about the actions that need to take place after a meeting that is driving the demand for CI in markets such as sales.
The Cisco Deal and the Threat to Gong and Chorus
Today, the largest demand for CI is in sales and there we see firms such as Gong and Chorus charging as much as 100 per user per month for the analytics from a sales call with a customer or prospect. Sales leaders need to know if a deal is at risk and Gong and Chorus can email a manager after a call telling them if a competitor was mentioned in a deal that was forecasted to be closed.
Cisco is expected to bundle Voicea into Webex Meetings. If they add the sales use case, this will put pressure on best of breed providers such as Gong and Chorus.
Shifting to Intelligent Communications and Collaboration
The race to add intelligence to meetings and calls is on. Video rooms have been becoming more intelligent but now Cisco is upping the game with its Cognitive Collaboration Initiative. The Voicea deal is different than Accompany but it makes the AI portfolio that Cisco Collaboration has stronger and expands the use cases.
Aragon feels that all other leading UCC providers will be forced to make similar moves (i.e. buy conversational AI providers) as the industry shifts to the AI meetings era. Over time, vendors that do not go the AI route will become legacy. This all means that there is more disruption in this market than ever before, and for buyers, it means it is time to evaluate developing an exit strategy if your current provider does not have an AI roadmap.
The market for conversational intelligence was just getting started and now it is consolidating. There are multiple ways that things in this market will evolve. The bottom line is that meetings and calls will be more intelligent and AI-based providers are the ones to look at. The Cisco Voicea deal and the Vonage Over.ai deal represent a significant shift in the conversational intelligence market and all buyers and all providers need to take action. Developing.