Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

The rise of AI and how to bring bots to life with Cisco Spark

April 11, 2017

“At bottom, robotics is about us. It is the discipline of emulating our lives, of wondering how we work.”

Professor Rod Grupen

I’m going to come right out and say it: I’m a gamer. I wear the badge proudly. And if you’re a video gamer like me, you’ll know how boring it is to play against bots or non-player characters (NPCs) as they’re usually very simple in their behavior with little or no intelligence. Hence why massively multiplayer online role-playing games (the acronym-busting MMORPGs, to those in the know) and Battle Arena games with real-life players have a grown to a player-base unlike any games that have existed previously, which is probably why the global gaming market is expected to reach an eye-popping $118.6 billion by 2019.

As the gaming industry explosion from niche market to one of the most robust and fastest-growing sectors in the world continues, so too is the rise and rise of artificial intelligence (AI). With continuing advances in AI algorithms, bots and virtual assistants are very much in the public spotlight and high on the radar of investors.  In 2015-16, Google open-sourced its machine learning API Tensorflow and Nervana Systems open-sourced its deep learning software.

Everyone, from healthcare to advertising, sales and marketing, to professional services and business intelligence startups are leveraging AI technology. Developments in AI algorithms reach further still and are already having a direct-impact on our lives. Bots are now used to predict crop failures in agriculture or provide intelligent shopping assistants in the eCommerce industry. We haven’t quite got to RoboCops walking the mean streets as public servants but watch this space!

The latest bot for the cosmetic industry, still needs a bit of work! GIF:

Emotional Intelligence

It is undeniable the number of bots or AI assistants growing within the enterprise and consumer spaces with the aim of enhancing our productivity or life experiences. Yet, just like the old gaming bots, they won’t stick around long if they can’t connect with us. As emotionally responsive beings, we need human-like interactions in order to forge deep and meaningful associations. Just like the smile Amazon Alexa can put on your face with ‘her’ ability to play your favourite music.

To create a true connection with our virtual friends we must be able to feel enjoyment or happiness through a positive interaction or experience. Many platforms exist today that allow us to build speech-enabled, natural language processing bots. Business communication applications such as Cisco Spark are making huge advancements, bringing bots to users that enhance productivity and bring some delight to your work.

A bot for every task

A quick browse of the Cisco Spark Depot shows just how many bots there are to make your working day that little bit easier. Move your email conversations to a more collaborative environment with the Email2Spark bot. Inject a laugh into your day with a GIF courtesy of GifBot. Use the Dictionary or a translation bot for English, French and German. How about a bot that can arrange a meeting with someone in the organisation you work in? Here’s one I developed for my team:

Not only does the bot inform the user and I that a meeting is being requested, something special happens: it automatically creates a calendar invite and sends it to us both to accept. The bot populates the calendar invitation with all the necessary information for us to communicate at the time of the meeting, using Cisco WebEx or even Cisco Video Conferencing – improving productivity and our meeting experience. Bingo.

Seamless integrations, endless possibilities

Cisco Spark for Developers takes it a step further. Why not use our open APIs to integrate Cisco Spark with your business-critical applications? Improve workflows and harness the power of other applications to make bots more intelligent. Even utilise a 24/7 world-class support desk powered by to answer your questions and discuss ideas. Here’s one I imagined earlier…

A bot that could:

  • Determine the best date or time for a meeting to take place by using your calendar information
  • Open up a space on Cisco Spark before the meeting takes place for you to share documents, messages and allows you to continue collaborating after the meeting
  • Proactively ask you how your meeting went, provide you with the necessary actions and even arranging a follow-up meeting (if required).

Oh, and if you’re attending the meeting from home (perhaps most importantly!), the bot can send an SMS message to your nanny that the meeting has started – so your pint-sized invaders can’t barge in! The possibilities aren’t just endless, they’re seamless too.

Bot to the future 

As we become more and more exposed bots, both at work and in our personal consumer lives, it will become critical not only do they perform a certain function but that through this, we also connect on an emotional level to the services they provide. With machine learning and API integration, bots are here to stay and will only continue to get better and smarter as we bring them to life.

Find out more about the unique features of the Cisco Spark platform at and create a seamless working environment across your organisation.


Leave a comment