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How AI Can Enhance Professional Calls On Existing Collaboration Platforms

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By Dr Rishi Mohan Bhatnagar

Disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have seen both personal, as well as professional lives,
take a 360-degree turn across the globe. Today, whether it is to conduct office meetings, or to
ensure that learning does not get disrupted due to schools being shut, or to find online means of
entertainment; most of us have embraced technology as the primary medium to collaborate,
connect and do business.

We witnessed a drastic surge in the adoption of advanced and connected technologies and
collaborative solutions like MS Teams, Zoom, and Google Meet, due to a series of lockdowns,
facilitating work and study from home. Now, as the world gets back to the new normal in business,
we see hybrid models prevailing and collaborative tools being integral to the future of work as well
as education. Video calls and online meet-ups, which were already a mainstay before the pandemic,
helped restore seamlessness to operations, ensuring efficiency and productivity.

However, this new normal way of working, learning, and living has come with its own set of hurdles,
and one of the most prominent ones has been the challenges faced in making professional calls and
studying from home. Some of the major issues reported by working professionals are surge in the
call volumes, poor to average quality of calls, internet bandwidth to ensure smooth transmission,
voice echoes, and background noises during live meetings. In fact, a recent CMR survey revealed
that more than 30% of users find audio echoes and voice clarity as the common concern impacting
online conferencing-

1 . Impact on Productivity
With most of us operating out of our homes, where our ‘office’ is amidst children’s ongoing online
classes, household chores being done, etc., background noises emanating can become a major
irritant and embarrassment.

One often finds oneself constantly muting and unmuting during professional calls to avoid any
background noise disturbing other call participants. Background noise causes distractions for not
only the speaker but the listeners as well, leading to important parts of a discussion getting missed.
Participants have to experience constant repetition and even longer online meetings.
Moreover, poor call quality with overlapping voices or other disturbances can result in
miscommunication of vital messages. Many find the noises from one’s surroundings to be a cause
of embarrassment, especially while on calls with clients or one’s seniors.

Further, such issues can result in increased stress levels, mental fatigue, etc., due to the human
brain trying to sort through various background noises to understand what is being discussed,
impacting not only mental and physical wellness but also adversely affecting memory and learning
capabilities.

Lastly, loss of speaker credibility due to poor audio quality. For an online meeting to be successful,
clear online audio quality plays a vital role with the audience tuned in from multiple channels, like
computer speakers, VoIP, mobile, or landlines. If the speaker cannot hear or be heard, the vital
information or message can be misinterpreted, or the impact may be lost.

Ensuring that conferencing call lines are secure, especially during confidential meetings is another
serious concern.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Enhanced Audio/Video Collaborative Tools
To deal with this, organizations are looking for innovative, secure, and effective tech solutions that
offer background noise cancellation during virtual calls on existing collaboration platforms. AI
technology is being increasingly applied in this space with AI-enabled noise suppression solutions
that learn the difference between human voices and other background noise. These solutions work
by emitting noise, that is out of phase with the bad noise, which basically leads to the two sound
waves effectively cancelling each other, leading to both becoming inaudible with only the human
voice coming across clearly to the listeners.

Going Forward today, professional calls are the primary medium of connecting with one’s employees, service
providers, vendors, and customers. Also, with education delivery turning towards a hybrid model,
the volume of calls attended by individuals is only likely to grow manifold, as our world adjusts to
hybrid working where there is less travelling and more virtual connections.

(Author- Dr Rishi Mohan Bhatnagar, President at Aeris Communications)

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