Culture & Competency

Moving Beyond “Collaboration” Meaning Video and Calling: Cisco Partners with Jive

When I first wrote the Seven Pillars of IT-Enabled Team Productivity (in 2005), I focused on the needs of collaborative teams from technology. Interestingly, while there was a role in my framework for presence and instant messaging (Pillar 5), and real-time screen sharing for co-authoring / co-editing (Pillar 2), there was not a distinct pillar for video meetings and other types of real-time interaction. I got called on that a couple of times, but my response was always along the line of: video meetings are okay and have a role to play, but the real opportunity is in building effective habits for collaborating beyond real-time exchange / interaction.

Fast forward to last month, when I was reviewing a “cloud collaboration” offering from a vendor. It was all about real-time – video, calling, presence – and absolutely nothing about the Pillars I had written about in the Seven Pillars (for an update on 7 Pillars, and two other frameworks for collaborative groups and collaborative organizations, please see my book Collaboration Roadmap).

In light of what I wrote all those years ago, and being mindful of my perplexity last month, it was good to see Cisco (who has focused very heavily on video meetings, calling and presence, but struggling to get a foothold in the other Pillars) announce a partnership with Jive for integration between their respective offerings. I look forward to seeing what is actually delivered, and whether the “partnership” turns into an acquisition (and therefore greater control over direction).

From Cisco Retires Webex Social, Partners with Jive Instead:

Cisco and Jive are marketing a bundle that includes Cisco’s WebEx Meetings and Jabber for online meetings, Web conferencing, IM and audio/video communications and Jive’s ESN software, which provides “Facebook like” capabilities for workplace collaboration, like employee profiles, activity streams, microblogging, document sharing and group workspaces.

The bundle is already live with some customers, like Thomson Reuters, where 60,000 users can invite colleagues to and launch WebEx meetings from the Jive interface, as well as fire up a Jabber IM session from within Jive. Details on pricing were not immediately available.
Cisco and Jive plan to progressively link these products at a technology level so they work in a more integrated fashion. The companies will also offer consulting and services for customers that need customized implementations.

For Cisco, this partnership represents a shift in strategy. For years, the company pushed WebEx Social — formerly called Quad — as an integral part of its overall enterprise collaboration and unified communications (UC) product stack.

Clearly the ESN suite never gained as much traction in the market as Cisco expected it to, so the company is pulling its horse from this race, where competition is broad and intense among vendors like Microsoft with Yammer and Sharepoint; IBM with Connections; Tibco with Tibbr; and Zimbra with Telligent.

Instead, Cisco wants to double-down on WebEx Meetings and Jabber, and also on its UC products, with a particular emphasis on video conferencing, a segment of the market where it sees a ripe opportunity to outfit meeting rooms of all sizes with video collaboration systems.

“We’re not going to rest until every single room in every single business all over the world has extraordinary video conferencing and collaboration equipment. That’s our mission,” Rowan Trollope, senior vice president of Cisco’s Collaboration Technology Group, said in March when the company announced an array of new and improved video conferencing products.

The way Cisco sees it, most conference rooms either don’t have conferencing equipment or, if they do, the systems don’t work properly, so it’s zeroing in on that underserved market. Developing WebEx Social further doesn’t fit in with this strategy.

A couple of notes:
– Cisco Social (formerly Quad) is now formally dead.
– Not sure whether I agree with the call out of “rooms.” Yes, room-based conferencing and collaboration tools are important, but lots of collaborative activity happens at desks, cafés, when mobile, etc. If “room” is signalled myopically, then I’m very concerned. If “room” is signalled in terms of a beachhead, I can accept that.

And from Like Chocolate and Peanut Butter, Some Things Are Better Together:

Today I am happy to announce that we are entering a relationship with Jive Software
to deliver the best in enterprise social collaboration to our customers. By combining Jive’s enterprise collaboration platform with WebEx and Jabber, we can bring together the elements that help organizations deploy an integrated, seamless experience for their employees, customers, and partners.

What really gets me excited about the Jive and Cisco integration is that we are bringing two leading collaboration and communications technology solutions together and delivering them in a single experience for our customers – one place for employees to communicate and collaborate, one place for customers communities to foster and broaden support, and one place for partners to drive business outcomes. Together, we are helping our customers easily go between their real-time conversations, like instant messages, videoconferences and online meetings, with the more persistent social conversations, like blogs, discussions, wikis, posts and online groups.

A couple of notes:
– Chocolate and peanut butter? Really? Is that an American delicacy?
– Cisco and Jive will be working to help current Cisco Quad customers move away to Jive’s offerings.
– Given Cisco’s failure with Quad, it would be worth any organization with Quad currently to evaluate other offerings in addition to what Jive has to offer. At the very minimum – and I hope you do more than this – buy and deeply read the Collaboration report from The Real Story Group.

1 reply »

  1. “it is all about technology, the rest is communication” business phrase from mid 90s Ericsson Corp. Same time “Connecting People” old Nokia 😉 I sounds like Cisco, who by coincidence almost was bought by Ericsson at that time (they slipped that deal, given that Ericsson didn’t forsee to huge demand for Internet back-bone stuff…) Still have that first notion to things. Forgetting about the key topic being People, and conversations and participation economy that make-up what we call collaboration! Spot-on Michael as always!