Cisco's revamped tool hopes to 'Spark' business collaboration

A three-pronged conferencing tool

Cisco Spark users are going to have something exciting to text about. The networking giant will add voice and video-conferencing tools to the text messaging system.

Spark will soon enable you to turn a text message-based chat into a phone call, and a phone call into a video conference within a single cloud-based service. So rather than start a conversation on iMessage, and then dial a phone number, and then log into Skype, you can access all three tools within the Spark app and transition from one to the other with a few swipes.

The application is also designed to make Cisco’s on-premise software more accessible via the cloud. Now, business users can access their work phone via the cloud, so you no longer need to be at your desk to answer work-related calls that go to your office number.

How it works

With Spark, whenever you create a phone call from a Cisco phone, you will be creating a Spark room that operates a lot like a Google Hangout or Skype session. You can share content, link calendars, add participants, and return to a simple phone call if your video chat has become superfluous.

What’s also cool about Spark is that it will allow you to transition from a video conference within two boardrooms to a one-on-one session on two mobile devices with just a swipe of the screen.

If your company has a very specific need for Spark, Cisco’s open API format allows you to create your own apps that play into the system.

The revamped Spark service will be available in the US during the first three months of 2016.