AI Race Heats up as Cisco Plans MindMeld Acquisition, Apple Bags Lattice

There’s a race going on at tech companies, not to sell the latest device or cloud service, and it mostly happens in the background. On May 13, TechCrunch wrote that Apple recently spent a reported $200 million on Lattice, an AI firm that digs into the dark, unstructured, data that blights companies. This or other companies’ solution could be the source of a couple of unicorn businesses down the line.

generic-conversational-ui-shopping-concierge-demo-screenshot-mindmeldAdd to that, Cisco has announced their intent to pick up MindMeld, on May 11. MindMeld is a conversational AI startup to build better chatbots, customer service agents and other essentials for the 21st-century business. This deal, at around $125 million, is just the latest as the big players snap up the next-big-thing startups to bolt their bright ideas into the products of large companies. But that’s all part of the game in “the valley.”

Hardware fades as everything becomes software

Cisco is fighting a running battle to keep customers. That’s as networks evolve and become just another software-defined service. By adding social media and collaboration tools, Cisco is now just as much a business software company like Microsoft, with Skype and SharePoint. By adding intelligent AI agents to the mix, Cisco looks to remain relevant. With that in place, they will be able to bolster their collaboration and messaging solution known as “Cisco Spark.” That’s as all businesses are looking to cut back on customer service costs, improve the speed and quality of resolutions, and have that must-have chatbot accessory and Spark could have the potential for that.

Apple’s aims may be a little more distant, and less explicit, but all the major hardware firms are picking up AI companies as the move to software and services continues. With businesses firmly focused on building knowledge graphs, developing linguistics packages for the vast Chinese market and trying to understand where the next big spike in AI adoption will be, any startup with a good product or potential is sitting pretty.

Medical and banking are the primary areas of focus for most vertically-focused businesses, but it will be features like shopping assistants that recognize you forgot the ketchup or batteries which could be the new “savior” of humanity.

Leadership insight

“The workplace of the future is one powered by AI,” said Rowan Trollope, senior vice president, Cisco IoT and Applications Group. “This is a significant step toward making that workplace a reality. Integrating MindMeld into the Cisco Spark platform will transform how users interact in Cisco Spark Spaces, Cisco Spark Meetings, and Cisco Spark Care.”


YouTube: MindMeld Deep-Domain Conversational AI Platform

Photo credit: MindMeld
Source: Cisco press release / Ingrid Lunden (TechCrunch)
Editorial notice: The quote has been provided as part of a public press release.

Chris Knight

Chris Knight

I've been writing about technology. PCs and mobile for over 10 years, covering news, tutorials, reviews, comparisons and other pieces across magazines and websites.
Chris Knight

@ChrisKnightCMS

Tech writer interested in mobile, digital business, IT, smart homes and gadgets - anything with a GHz pulse.
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Chris Knight

I've been writing about technology. PCs and mobile for over 10 years, covering news, tutorials, reviews, comparisons and other pieces across magazines and websites.