GoToMeeting adds AI transcription features, Amazon Alexa integration

LogMeIn-owned videoconferencing tool also gets text chat function.

LogMeIn has updated its GoToMeeting video and audio conference platform with new features that include a text chat function, AI transcription service and integration with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant.

LogMeIn — which also owns cloud meetings tool — acquired GoTo products from Citrix for $1.8 billion in 2016. This immediately positioned the vendor as one of the largest video and web conferencing players, with millions of customers worldwide.

A range of features announced this week are aimed at enhancing the GoToMeeting platform as it faces competition from large tech firms with web conferencing capabilities, such as Google (Hangouts Chat), Amazon (Chime), Cisco (Webex) and Microsoft (Skype for Business/Teams), as well as smaller players including BlueJeans and Zoom.

The Business Messaging feature lets employees chat one-to-one or in groups with each other or with external clients using the new GoToMeeting desktop application or a standalone mobile app. Users can jump from a message thread directly into a video or audio conference with one click.

The Smart Meeting Assistant transcribes meeting audio, storing the text in the cloud for subsequent sharing. This means that meeting attendees won’t need to worry about taking notes and can focus on discussions with colleagues, the company said.

“They can fully engage with the collaboration that is happening at the moment and then have that transcript to look at after if they need to revisit it,” said Alix Hagan, product marketing manager at LogMeIn.

Integration with Alexa lets users schedule and view upcoming meetings, as well as reschedule or cancel existing meetings. “You don't have to go to your computer or laptop if you are at home ... you can just tell Alexa and she will handle it for you. She will schedule the meeting in your GoToMeeting and send out that invite,” said Hagan.

GoToMeeting is not the only video conferencing software provider to offer a transcription tool, with others such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom touting similar functionality. Other vendors offer some integration with digital assistants as well. Last year Cisco unveiled its Spark Assistant — now Webex Assistant — which lets users kick off meetings using voice commands, while Microsoft has begun to incorporate its Cortana assistant into its Teams video calls.

The new features announced by LogMeIn will make GoToMeeting “more attractive to SMB buyers,” said Jim Lundy, CEO of Aragon Research. He added that the post-acquisition integration of GoToMeeting into LogMeIn’s business has taken longer than expected, which may have delayed some product releases.

Richards Edwards, distinguished research analyst and service director at Freeform Dynamics, commented that the platform enhancements point to “some degree of catchup” in relation to other video conferencing software vendors, but there is “evidence of innovation too.”

AI is improving business meetings in a variety of ways, noted Tim Banting, principal analyst for collaboration and communication for Global Data. “AI is being used to recognize faces and to optimize the framing of video cameras, as well as being utilized as a digital assistant to help in joining meetings, adding attendees, and taking notes,” Banting said. “This is an area that is going to accelerate rapidly and truly add end-user value to meetings.”

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon