The future of meetings – using AI to improve team collaboration
By Blair Pleasant, Microsoft Guest Author
It’s clear that artificial intelligence (AI) will be an important part of the way we communicate and collaborate in the foreseeable future. Tying in AI technologies with business communication applications such as team collaboration and unified communications can improve worker productivity, save time, and improve the overall business flow.
AI is a broad area, consisting of several technologies, including:
- Machine learning
- Natural Language Processing
- Bots, or software applications that perform simple and repetitive automated tasks
- Speech, including speech-to-text and text-to-speech
These tools learn over time and enable applications to use insights gathered from past behavior and external data sources to assist users. When used with team collaboration and meetings, AI technologies can automate tasks and help users gain access to the right information presented in the right place.
Improving Team Collaboration and Meetings – Before, During, and After
AI tools can be used before, during, and after team collaboration sessions and meetings to help improve the flow, save time, increase productivity – and reduce frustration!
One reason meetings can be unproductive is that we generally spend so much time trying to schedule the meeting and find a time that works for all the participants. Instead of wasting time trying to figure out who’s available when, bots can be used automatically schedule meetings based on the invitees’ calendars and availability, and can prepopulate calendar invites, saving time while reducing the frustration level. The bots could also identify other people who should be invited to participate based on expertise, role, relationships, and so on.
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AI can also reduce frustration by accessing the right documents and resources before and during team meetings. Let’s look at an example of a development team that has a weekly meeting where documents and drawings are shared, revised, and updated. Prior to the meeting, the team members need to access the latest version of the documents. However, there are generally multiple versions of the documents floating around, and not everyone is working off of the most recent version. Wouldn’t it be easier if, using AI, the team collaboration software could identify which documents are needed, access the latest version of each document, and make them available to all of the team members before the meeting?
During the meeting, the AI tools could automatically identify and present additional relevant information and resources such as web links, videos, and documents that would be useful for the meeting, based on the topic and key words used. The AI tools can also take meeting notes, create action items, get approvals, and assign tasks.
After the meeting, the AI tools can be used to follow up on assigned tasks and deadlines, summarize and transcribe the meeting content into text, and provide an easy way for people to access important information based on topic, when their name was mentioned, and more.
Expect to see virtual or digital assistants with a conversational interface enhance unified communications and team collaboration capabilities, allowing workers to use voice controls to make calls, send instant messages to colleagues, or initiate a video conference. For example, you can tell Cortana to set up a video call with Steve and Jim for 4:00 on Tuesday, or if you’re stuck in traffic you can have the assistant notify your team that you’ll be late for the weekly meeting.
AI tools provide insights and perform mundane but important tasks, which improves worker productivity, reduces user frustration, and creates better business outcomes.
An independent industry analyst with over 18 years’ experience, providing market insights and analysis for end user and vendor clients. Blair Pleasant is a frequent speaker and participant in industry conferences, webinars, podcasts, and other events about the evolving Unified Communications and Collaboration and contact center markets.