TedschadlerBy Ted Schadler

Following on to Rob's great analyses of Cisco's Jabber and PostPath acquisitions, here are some additional things that Information & Knowledge Management Professionals should tune into regarding Cisco as the new collaboration kid on the block:

  • First, Cisco is building a meeting-centric workspace product with WebEx Connect. Think about the key documents, chats, connections, calendar, contact lists, business and collaboration widgets, and video links hosted in a workspace with persistence, invitation- and approval-based access, and all the piece parts of a real workspace. That means you should be putting Cisco on your vendor list when looking at new team collaboration scenarios.
  • Second, Jabber will be bundled into WebEx Connect as the core presence engine. In other words, this acquisition is, as Rob pointed out, a great way for Cisco to get a global-scale presence engine. But it's also presence designed around a B2B or distributed team environment. And that signals where you should look at Cisco: It's in B2B teams. Or teams that sit on the edge of the enterprise — sales, product development, supply chain, partner management — should look at this new option.
  • Third, Cisco will make PostPath a paid add-on to WebEx Connect to be run in a SaaS model. Cisco isn't so much interested in competing for your email-only business. But it would love to win your Web conferencing business and create stickiness on that platform with B2B calendaring and email.
  • Fourth, Cisco will offer all of this on a pay-by-the-drink SaaS model. It will all be priced per-user per-month if you want it that way. And your business users can get it with a credit card. The reason I'm so excited about cloud-based services and SaaS models is because they match expense with benefit. Even if the three-year costs look the same for on-premise and on-demand solutions, the financial transparency, accounting benefits, and business scaling make the cloud-based option better … especially if you are a CFO.

Cisco has work to do, of course, particularly around building the partner channel. But this solutions on the way up, and it's time to tune into it.

Now what about business transformation? Well, that's the B2B thing. We need to improve the collaboration of distributed teams and especially multicompany teams. Today's collaboration tools are designed for internal teams, and it's almost impossible to bring partners or customers into the collaboration toolkit. See our recent report on real-time collaboration for more on this.

Disagree? Please let me know.