One way to measure productivity is how fast good ideas travel to the people within an organization who can act upon them. A good idea that spreads to the right people quickly can rally entire departments, gain momentum from key stakeholders’ energy, and snowball into an actionable plan that transforms a business. Real-time communication supercharges the velocity of good ideas.
Just as important for productivity is the ability to bring an ongoing business issue to resolution quickly. Real-time communication offers a solution here as well. When a project hangs on the signoff of stakeholders whose attention is occupied by multiple other priorities, all it takes is one person to initiate a conference call where everyone can come to an agreement on the final open items to move the stalled project forward.
Vonage just released a seemingly simple digital assistant that empowers users to leverage real-time communications in business scenarios like these. With the release of Vee, an integrated chatbot that serves as a virtual assistant for users of Workplace by Facebook, Vonage has harnessed the power of a few leading technologies to bring a helpful communication and collaboration enabler to life.
Don’t let the simple name—or the even simpler interface—fool you, Vee is a neat piece of technology that can bring together four key technologies to boost productivity and enhance collaboration:
- The Vonage Business Cloud unified communications (UC) platform.
- The Nexmo Voice API with AI connectivity through its WebSocket feature
- A voice-enabled artificial intelligence (AI) service by Voicera.
- Vee’s homebase, the online collaboration platform Workplace by Facebook.
Together, these technologies form a deceptively powerful virtual assistant that allows users to instantaneously initiate conferences with Workplace colleagues whenever inspiration strikes or a critical business issue requires a quick one-to-one call. Let’s review how each one works to make Vee such a productive assistant.
Vee Chatbot Integration in Action
Consider a collaboration scenario among a distributed team.
During her commute to work, Erin reads an industry influencer’s impromptu review of her company’s new product. It receives the highest rating he’s ever given. She immediately posts the link to her Digital Marketing group on Workplace with the caption, “gamechanger!”
As soon as she arrives at her desk, she logs into her Vonage Business Cloud (VBC) account, opens Workplace—where her post has already sparked a lively discussion—and launches Vee with a post. She types “Start Conference” into the post and tags everyone on her team to be conferenced into the call. The brainstorming begins as soon as people join; everyone has read the review by this point and the ideas are flying.
Because Vee also conferenced in Voicera’s in-meeting assistant to transcribe the call, no one is relegated to notetaker. The ideas can flow freely, with Erin occasionally using Vee’s integrated Voicera controls to highlight and annotate key parts of the discussion. The team is in such a creative zone that she declines the inbound call alert she receives, even though she sees from the Caller ID that it’s the CMO. She declines with a quick text reply: “We’re on it. Developing an action plan right now.”
At the conclusion of the call, Vee stores the recording and transcription in Workplace and automatically shares the links with all the participants. Erin uses the redial option in her call log to dial the CMO back and recount the plan that came from her team’s brainstorm. They are poised to make the most of their opportunity.
The Technology Behind the Vee Chatbot Flow
Any Workplace user can initiate this type of collaboration with Vee; a VBC account does provide some additional features but it’s not required. And while users like Erin may not be too concerned with the technology underlying their productive team collaborations, us geeks are. Let’s recap the above scenario from a technology standpoint by walking through the flow:
1. By logging into Vonage Business Cloud, Erin tapped into all the features of the Vonage integration with Workplace.
2. Workplace sent API requests to Vonage Business Cloud to authenticate her and get caller ID information.
3. The “Start Conference” command initiated an action to acquire the first available Vonage virtual phone number on her account. Once obtained, the number served as the conference line.
4. The outbound calls to all the call participants were made via the Nexmo Voice API, which also conferenced in Voicera’s AI-powered meeting assistant through its unique WebSockets connection feature.
5. Voicera transcribed the audio stream of the call in real time and used its AI to conduct some analysis of the conversation.
6. During the call, Erin utilized Voicera’s highlight buttons and stored her own comments via the menu commands integrated into Vee.
7. The call alert, SMS quick reply, and Click-2-Call redial features she used on her Vonage line were all powered by Vonage Business Cloud.
8. When the conference call ended, Vee posted the meeting summary from Voicera on Workplace and all participants were notified via their Workplace accounts.
See, Vee is not as simple as its name sounds. Vonage has leveraged the power of APIs to integrate AI capabilities into real-time conversational use cases, all within the Workplace collaboration platform. Business teams like Erin’s reap the enhanced productivity of that integration. And because it’s based on programmable APIs and scalable cloud infrastructure, the sky’s the limit for the customization and innovation that you can build on top of it. For example, Vonage has partnered with bot providers such as Converse.AI (acquired by SmartSheet) who have embedded Nexmo APIs into their framework to further enhance the Workplace experience with features such as custom voicemail and IVR.