Vonage partners with IBM Watson to enable cognitive communications

Vonage and Nexmo can bring context to communications, and when paired with Watson, they can make it cognitive by bringing in elements of conversation and language

Vonage partners with IBM Watson to enable cognitive communications

Watson is IBM's 'cognitive' AI technology.

Credit: IBM

Since Alan Masarek joined Vonage as its CEO, the company has been on a mission to redefine how businesses communicate with workers and customers. The term unified communications has been somewhat of a fallacy, as collaboration tools are disjointed and require a high amount of manual integration. Sure, there has been some advancements with respect to bringing voice, video and content sharing together, but the tools are primarily limited to users communicating with other workers with basic collaboration tools. 

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There’s more to communicating than just picking up a phone and calling or sending a text message. There’s a world of contextual information, particularly with customer interactions, to understand who is a user is, what they are doing, their preferences and many other factors. How does one get that information? Usually the customer is put through the grinder by being asked a bunch of questions they probably already answered in an integrated voice response (IVR) system because the business had no other way to gather that type of information. 

In an effort to change this, Vonage bought communication platform as a service (CPaaS) provider Nexmo earlier this year. Nexmo makes communications “modules,” such as voice and chat available from the cloud. Now if a company wants to build a mobile application that has built-in click-to-call or messaging, it can make an API call to the cloud for this functionality. By holding the customer in the application, the business can gather great contextual information and streamline communications with the customer. 

Making cognitive communications a reality 

This week, Vonage announced that its Nexmo group is working with IBM’s Project Intu to demonstrate integration between the companies that can make cognitive communications a reality. Intu is a systems-agnostic version of Watson that allows developers to embed artificial intelligence (AI) functions into devices, robots and applications. The AI combined with Nexmo’s voice APIs can bring a new dimension to communications and cognitive capabilities.

For example, a user could use her favorite restaurant application, such Open Table, Yelp or Trip Advisor, and ask it something like: “Make me a restaurant reservation for two people at 7 p.m.” Watson’s natural language capabilities could interpret what was being asked, look in the application database to see the user’s preferences for food type, price range and location and find a place. Also, Watson can call the restaurant, book the reservation, text the user with place and time, and then send Google Map directions on how to get there. 

Vonage and Nexmo together can bring context to communications, and when paired with Watson, they can elevate it to being cognitive by bringing in elements of conversation and language. 

The coming together of UC and AI is still in the very early days, but the potential for game-changing applications is here. Developers need to open their minds and consider what’s possible when applications, devices and network can think and interpret information. Then the promise of UC will become a reality.

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