A recent article by James Henderson in Channel Asia, “Cisco pulls ahead of Microsoft in $45B collaboration market” (January 24, 2019) is, to me, a fitting and pleasing testament to the efforts and vision of all the members of the Cisco team who are working to build a better approach to collaboration and communication in the workspace. But more significant than that, perhaps, is the good news that the article delivers to busy working people everywhere. It highlights a new era which demands greater agility and team collaboration to compete and grow.
The article states, “Cisco continues to maintain a leadership position within a collaboration market forecast to reach over US$45 billion in 2019 while pulling ahead from closest rival Microsoft.” To me, there are three significant benefits to customers highlighted in that sentence.
First, it emphasizes Cisco’s continued leadership in this market. We have taken note of peoples’ needs and preferences in how they want to work and communicate, and have built that out into a seamless, one-button-to-push, highly reliable collaboration solution. This helps develop synergy for the collaboration market as a whole, both cloud-based and on-prem. So, while acknowledging that cloud is outpacing on-prem solution growth, the Cisco “cloud-first-but-not-only” strategy allows customers to maximize their existing assets and evolve to the cloud at their pace with this hybrid solution.
Secondly, the article shows just how large this marketplace is becoming. This is not a fringe activity. It is forecast to grow to US$45 billion just this year, and as Mr. Henderson writes, “backed by nine percent annual growth, quarterly vendor revenues are running at an ‘all-time high,’ with Synergy Research findings projecting steady growth over the next five years.” This shows that the industry is building momentum.
The Evolution of Collaboration
Collaborative workspaces have been evolving independently over the past few years, pushed forward by rapid evolution in wireless technologies, bandwidth, and work styles. Professionals of all age groups are recognizing the new synergies that come from being able to see each other, work simultaneously on documents, and factor in a higher degree of intelligence and immediacy to the act of communication.
We at Cisco are able to leverage a wealth of experience and turn it into the next iteration of collaborative excellence, beyond the reach of our competitors. With products such as Webex and our acquisitions of other innovative technologies and approaches including cognitive collaboration, we have been able to move the cloud-based workspace into more dimensions and with more features than any of the other brands could do. Industry growth draws more players, and competition is good, but it’s clear that customers value solutions that integrate the full suite of real-time collaboration capabilities.
The core issue is one of choice and interoperability at this crucial moment in time where mobile is becoming central to productivity and business. Our strategy of giving customers a range of practical options helps make this happen. Take our relationship with Microsoft as an example.
Microsoft has long been an industry standard by virtue of its presence on almost every desktop. From office suites to browsers to shared networks, it has been hard for most companies to ignore or resist their omnipresence. Our compatibility strategy with Microsoft gives customers access to the very best collaboration/meeting experience, by integrating our products with their existing solutions such as Microsoft Teams. This gives everyone the opportunity to fully participate in meetings, even when using a Microsoft product like Skype for business.
I think it is possible to be simultaneously humble and proud when an article such as this hits the wires. It shows we are doing the right thing and that people are responding positively. The cloud ‘wave’ is coming, the market for intelligent collaboration is growing in a healthy way, and Cisco is ready to help customers evolve at their own pace.