MAD Perspectives Blog

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 Cisco: taking networking to the human level

Peggy Dau - Thursday, November 12, 2009


Once upon a time, Cisco provided network products such as switches and routers.  They still do.  These are not necessarily exciting products, but they were (and still are) critical to facilitating the flow of content and information across private and public networks.  However, Cisco has long had a reputation for growing through acquisition.  In the past 10 years, these acquisitions have become very intriguing as Cisco perceived the impact that media could have at both the corporate and consumer levels.

Cisco has a stated commitment to collaboration that incorporates video and social networking.  It is pervasive across the company through Cisco's focus on interoperability of its platforms, its R&D investments, standards leadership, acquisition strategy and partnerships.  Cisco has been building it's video management capabilities over the past 5+ years with a focus on capture, create, manage, edit and share video assets.  There capabilities run the gamut from the very high end (e.g., HD content encoding for broadcast) to the low end (e.g. consumer video capture) and the all the complex challenges that happen in between. 

Tuesday, Cisco CEO and Chairman, John Chambers, spoke about Cisco's vision for collaboration.  This is a topic near and dear to my heart.  Having worked for a Fortune 50 technology company for many years, I was able to take advantage of various collaboration tools to connect, communicate and collaborate with my colleagues regardless of geographic distance.  I saw the evolution from proprietary corporate email to "standardized" email systems to the use of document management systems, virtual rooms, web conferencing and telepresence conferencing.  I personally saved many, many hours and dollars through the use of telepresence solutions.  However, the enterprise of tomorrow demands more than stand alone products, it requires integrated products to simplify collaboration and communication

Cisco is leveraging its vast array of assets for unified communication, IP communication, presence, web conferencing and media asset management to address the increasing relevance and use of video plus the growing demand for enterprise social networking.  It's Enterprise Collaboration Platform, which integrates new social networking products with existing communication and conferencing platforms, allows emloyees to navigate an employee directory designed in the manner of a LinkedIn or Plaxo.  The difference is its incorporation of tags for both data and video content, enabling users to find people, data and video content relevant to the topic searched.  Of high interest is the ability to view professional (studio created) or casual (import from Flip) video content at the specific frame that discusses the search topic.

It is clear that Cisco has a vision and is aligning its technology assets accordingly.  Cisco estimates the market opportunity to be $30B+ per year over the next 10 years.  Given Cisco's presence in the enterprise it will be interesting to see if they grab a significant share of the emerging enterprise investment in social media networking.  If nothing else, Cisco's announcements validate the investment and presence of the many small businesses that are emerging in this space. 

What's your perspective?