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Cisco retires WebEx Social, partners with Jive instead

The companies will market a suite that includes WebEx Meetings, Jabber and Jive enterprise social networking software

By Juan Carlos Perez
May 1, 2014 02:50 PM ET

IDG News Service - Cisco has put out to pasture its WebEx Social enterprise social networking (ESN) suite, opting instead to partner with Jive Software.

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, the vendors said Thursday. 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.

"That WebEx Social business was a struggle for Cisco," said Rob Koplowitz, a Forrester Research analyst.

While monitoring ESN suite market adoption, Koplowitz kept tabs on WebEx Social, but didn't see it make enough progress. "I don't know if they had an issue selling the product, or if the problem was with how it worked once it was installed, but they were at it for a while," he said.

A clue as to why it didn't take off could be Cisco's strategy for pitching it to customers, which was a traditional, top-down approach via big, complex, on-premises IT projects that may have led to long sales and implementation cycles, Koplowitz said.

By contrast, rival Yammer, for example, found success via a bottom-up freemium model focused on quick, simple, self-service, end-user adoption of its cloud software. That sales and adoption strategy was one of the things that attracted Microsoft to Yammer, which it bought for more than $1 billion in mid-2012.

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.

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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