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    Collaboration Platforms Will Evolve into Digital Assistants Thanks to AI

    As video conferencing becomes the default way to engage others, the number of organizations that want a free video call to last more than 40 minutes is starting to rise.

    RingCentral, as part of an effort to woo end users away from Zoom, is now offering a RingCentral Glip Pro service that allows a free video conferencing call involving as many as 100 people to last as long as 24 hours. Naturally, most of those calls won’t last that long, but for organizations looking to run meetings that might last several hours that’s going to be an attractive option.

    Organizations will, for example, be able to easily reconvene a meeting during the day, says William Moxley, chief product officer for RingCentral. “Meetings can persist to the next day,” he adds.

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    AI with Insights

    There is, however, another reason why RingCentral also has a vested interest in encouraging users to stay on its platform. RingCentral has acquired DeepAffects, a provider of an artificial intelligence (AI) tool that analyzes and extracts insights from video conference conversations. The more conversations that occur on the RingCentral platform the more accurate those insights will become. Those platforms will soon employ a bevy of AI technologies to do everything from automatically transcribe notes to translate different languages spoken between participants.

    In general, RingCentral is trying to position itself as a provider of carrier-grade collaboration services that are more secure than rival platforms. RingCentral requires end users to employ a browser that complies with the WebRTC transport protocol to encrypt data. That approach also creates a more seamless user experience because there is no need to install client software to access RingCentral services, says Moxley.

    The irony in all this is that at one time RingCentral resold the Zoom service as part of its broader portfolio of collaboration tools. Now the company provides a video conferencing service that is more tightly integrated with the rest of its team messaging, file sharing, contact, task, and calendar management tools. Like every provider of the platforms, the goal is to expand way beyond providing video conferencing services. All of that data, of course, is also used to train AI models that promise to one day provide a better user experience. In effect, everyone will soon have their own equivalent of a digital assistant that knows a lot more about them than either Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa.

    The AI Tradeoff

    Of course, assistants also tend to know a lot about the people that hire them. In this case, the assistant is a cloud service that people are trusting with their secrets. If someone knows, for instance, when and where someone is meeting another person they can guess the intent of that meeting. In countries where kidnapping is a major issue such a breach might have some very dire consequences.

    It may be awhile before everyone gets the equivalent of their own personal digital assistant. Most people will welcome them. However, it is also worth remembering that those digital assistants, like it or not, will soon know more about you than anyone else alive, including your loved ones.

    Mike Vizard
    Michael Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist, with nearly 30 years of experience writing and editing about enterprise IT issues. He is a contributor to publications including Programmableweb, IT Business Edge, CIOinsight and UBM Tech. He formerly was editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise, where he launched the company’s custom content division, and has also served as editor in chief for CRN and InfoWorld. He also has held editorial positions at PC Week, Computerworld and Digital Review.

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