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Many in the media have observed that this year’s Enterprise 2.0 conference represented an inflection point in the industry. There is growing interest in how organizations can move beyond stand-alone community sites and leverage social collaboration to “get work done” within business processes. We see the same trend. Discussions Cisco had with attendees, as well as discussions heard during many of the conference sessions, have shifted from a debate about tools to a transformational conversation regarding social business. The transition from a technological focus to one that examines business value requires leadership teams to act more strategically to avoid social silos.

At the June Boston event, I had the opportunity to participate in a panel session,”Integrating Unified Communications and Social Business“, that addressed a critical foundation of this new conversation. Moderated by Irwin Lazar, VP and service director, at Nemertes, the panel examined how social collaboration and unified communications can be integrated into a seamless experience to “get work done”; how companies can best address business and IT management issues; and what organizational changes need to be considered to solidify planning around all forms of collaboration. The clear message coming out of the panel discussion was that “social + UC” is a market convergence trend that will change how organizations examine current and future enterprise collaboration platforms. We agree. Cisco WebEx Social has been designed from the ground-up to include instant messaging, presence, voice, video, and conferencing as core platform capabilities. Below are other highlights and reflections from the panel discussion:


External Influences

Role of Architecture

Social + UC

Determining Success

Social Communications: Better Together

Our inclusion of unified communications as a platform foundation for social collaboration should be no surprise given Cisco’s heritage and market leadership in this area. However, our solution remains unique in the market. That could be one of the reasons why we had so much attendee interest and booth traffic in the exhibit area. WebEx Social’s use of open standards and pre-built integrations allows organizations to leverage existing Cisco investments (e.g., Jabber, WebEx Messenger, WebEx Meetings, Unity Connection, Unified Communication Manager, and video endpoint compatibility with Cisco TelePresence endpoints and Cisco IP video phones), as well as popular market offerings for instant messaging and presence from IBM and Microsoft. The approach taken by others to bolt on UC tools is less robust than delivering those capabilities through an architectural model.

As social business systems integrate with a range of different applications such as video and unified communication, avoiding a “social silo” requires an enterprise collaboration platform designed for extensibility. Strategists also need to consider how social business and collaboration initiatives impact not only their processes but related issues such as user experience (including mobile), governance and change management practices, development and integration requirements, security and compliance needs, and so on. For additional information on how Cisco enables a rich communications experience for social collaboration, I invite you to visit our WebEx Social page.

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