Cisco Continues to Support Enterprise Social Networking with Versly Acquisition

September 21, 2011 No Comments

By David A. Kelly and Heather Ashton, Upside Research

Cisco Systems Cisco Continues to Support Enterprise Social Networking with Versly AcquisitionSocial networking is still very much front and center on the enterprise computing radar. While companies continue to search for the best way to incorporate the new collaboration functionality into an already crowded enterprise software environment, software vendors are adding new combinations of technology to their offerings. Recently, computing giant Cisco announced an acquisition that moves it ahead several steps in the race to develop the killer unified communication platform.

On August 29th, Cisco announced that it had acquired Versly, an early-stage, venture-backed collaboration vendor that sells collaboration tools for Microsoft Office products such as Word, Outlook, and Excel. Versly is still in its infancy (it has several hundred beta users of its solution), but the context-based technology it brings to the table fills a hole in Cisco’s unified communication platform vision. The plan is to integrate Versly software with existing Cisco collaboration solutions including Cisco Quad, Cisco Jabber, and Cisco WebEx.

Cisco has been building a unified communications offering for the past several years, and it has some category-leading tools that combine to make a formidable offering. Cisco WebEx is the video conferencing product that has become the standard in corporate communications. Cisco acquired Jabber in late 2008 to be able to embed presence and messaging services that provide aggregation capabilities across multiple platforms. Now, with Versly, the presence, messaging, and collaboration aspects of communication will be combined with workspace collaboration of documents and similar formats, to deliver on the next-generation promise of social networking for the enterprise: context-based collaboration.

As we have stated in the past, the most successful future social collaboration tools will anticipate their role as the means to access and reach the people and resources necessary to get work done. Providing users with the context-based tools they need to accomplish a particular task or activity, or to share and collaborate on specific documents, is a critical component of this successful approach to enterprise social collaboration. Cisco has understood the need to envelop the user in a unified communication environment, but it was lacking some of the contextual integration that competitors like Yammer, TIBCO tibbr, and Socialcast (now part of VMware) have added to their portfolios. With the Versly acquisition, Cisco now has a context-based component to complement its communication strengths.

The stakes have been raised once again in the enterprise collaboration market. Those vendors that do not keep pace and integrate social tools into context-based work environments will fall by the wayside. Organizations should look closely for an integrated approach to social collaboration, because that is the only way it will become widely adopted by corporate users and succeed throughout the enterprise.

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