Cisco doesn't make personal devices like PCs, smartphones, or residential canisters (Amazon Echo), so Monica lives in Spark – which the company believes will soon be everywhere (desktops, smartphones, and meeting rooms).
Cisco does not believe that the world needs another personal digital assistant, and so Monica is intended as a work, or team-oriented, collaboration assistant. Monica isn't for shopping lists or reminders, but rather, to improve team productivity.
Speech has only become reasonable as a user interface (UI) in the past decade. Even now, it's limited and typically requires a nearby microphone. The break-through with Amazon's successful Echo device was its miniature seven-mic array that enabled room-based or far-field communications.
Cisco realized that it could also do far-field communications with its installed base of telepresence rooms, which are already equipped with microphone arrays. The WebEx and Spark clouds are already in place, so the only thing missing, until now, was the artificial intelligence to drive it. Cisco is evaluating several AI services to power Monica, and will likely also consider IBM's Watson, given its announced partnership last summer.
Cisco provided few details on what Monica will do, when it will become available, and what its released product name will be. The product name "Monica" is unlikely to survive.