Cisco Doubles Down On Intelligence With BabbleLabs Acquisition
By Jim Lundy
Cisco is lost when it comes to intelligence. On Tuesday, they announced the acquisition of privately held BabbleLabs, an emerging innovator in sound management and voice analytics. This blog discusses the BabbleLabs deal and Cisco’s push for innovation and talent, which is putting other competitors on notice.
Who is BabbleLabs?
BabbleLabs, founded in 2017, is a Campbell California-based company that is loaded with some very senior talent who understand all things related to voice and sound. One of them, the CEO and Co-founder Chris Rowan, was also the Co-Founder of MIPS Computer Systems, a legendary company in Silicon Valley.
BabbleLabs has several different products that help to increase the quality of meetings by reducing background noise automatically. As many people are now working remotely and in different places, managing sound during a meeting is vital so you don’t interrupt others.
Why did Cisco buy BabbleLabs?
Cisco has been on a mission to enhance its collaboration platforms, including its flagship Webex Collaboration Platform. Cisco is no longer standing still in collaboration and under the leadership of SVP/GM Javed Khan and his new boss, EVP GM Jeetu Patel, who just joined Cisco from Box. Jeetu oversees collaboration, apps, and security. Together, Javed and Jeetu are on an all out mission to make Cisco WebEx a fully intelligent and automated collaboration platform.
Acoustic Fence: Poly was there First
To give credit where credit is due: Polly has had sound management via it’s Acoustic Fence for years. However, it appears that BabbleLabs has more options for embedding its sound management into existing devices–such as mobile phones. (Note: Cisco has not divulged its plans yet, but our feeling is that the Collaboration experience (including Sound Management) should go with you and not be tied to room or desk devices.
Babblelabs Deal Follows the 2019 Voicea Acquisition
Cisco has been building up its AI arsenal. In 2019, Cisco bought Voicea and got some incredible capabilities for voice transcription and analytics, which has now come to market with the WebEx Assistant.
The WebEx Assistant can automatically transcribe meetings by taking notes. When I say notes...this is the just transcription, because the worksheet says it is actually capturing who is saying what. This adds clarity to the recording notes and will prove invaluable as meetings continue to grow.
Cisco: Innovating and Winning the Talent Wars
Cisco is moving faster and it is innovating, particularly in Collaboration. The makeover of Webex, which is now a different service than just a year ago, is proof of that. Other competitors, such as Google, Microsoft, RingCentral, and Zoom are not standing still. The demand for Collaboration is at an all time high–and the market is responding.
Besides product, the new talent going to Cisco is remarkable. BabbleLabs has some very Senior Executives–some are tied to Standford University. The founder of Voicea, Omar Tawakol, a veteran Startup CEO, has also remained at Cisco and is the GM of the Cisco Contact Center Group.
The BabbleLabs deal, along with Cisco’s other moves in recent years, shows that it is intent on leading on innovation in collaboration and that it is moving faster. We say that because the plan is to have BabbleLabs in production this year in Webex Products and Services.