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5/2/2014
11:49 AM
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Cisco Drops WebEx Social For Jive

Cisco's Jive partnership revitalizes its enterprise collaboration offering and resuscitates the slumping social business software company.

Cisco will discontinue its homegrown WebEx Social service and replace it with Jive Software's collaboration platform, the companies announced Thursday, giving both a boost in the competitive social business space. While Cisco will end WebEx's project-based product, the partnership will combine WebEx Meetings, its instant messaging service Jabber, and Jive's enterprise collaboration platform into one hub where customers can access Web conferencing, activity streams, voice and video communications, document sharing, and group workspaces.

Cisco said it will stop selling WebEx Social immediately. "As the market for enterprise social software continues to develop, we're seeing the market consolidate around key vendors," said Peder Ulander, Cisco's VP of collaboration marketing, in a blog post. "To provide the best flexibility and outcomes for our customers, we're expanding our focus to work with these vendors' products and to provide native integration with products in our collaboration portfolio."

[Collaboration and BPM do mix. Read How To Blend BPM, Social Collaboration.]

Cisco will support WebEx Social's cloud service for two more years and the on-premises version for three years, the company said.

More than 60,000 users at Thomson Reuters are already using the combined suite of tools, which lets employees invite people to join WebEx meetings from within the Jive platform, Cisco said in a news release. Users can also launch individual or group chat sessions using Jabber from their Jive workflows instead of logging into the messaging tool separately.

The partnership news sent Jive's stock soaring more than 9% Thursday after a period of steady decline. Since the company's IPO in 2011, shares have dropped by more than 45%. Jive has also failed to land new clients consistently. Last year, the company added 76 customers, down by nearly half from 2012, according to SEC filings.

In March, Re/code, citing anonymous sources, reported that Jive had explored a sale during the last several months and had approached a number of companies, including SAP, Workday, and Oracle as potential buyers. Cisco's new partnership with the company could be the first step in a future acquisition.

"Could this be the start of a beautiful romance that ends in marriage? It's certainly possible," says Rob Koplowitz, vice president and principal analyst at Forester. "Cisco did not have the success in social that they hoped. The partnership makes sense from the perspective that Cisco obviously no longer wants to continue building out its social capability."

Cisco's WebEx Social product -- originally called Quad -- failed to gain enough traction to compete in a stacked collaboration market alongside Microsoft's Yammer and Sharepoint and IBM's Connections, for example.

The new partnership with Jive will open Cisco up to a much larger customer base, too, said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research. "The opportunity to sell product through Cisco's massive global channel is certainly a boon for a company that small in comparison to the competitive field," he wrote in a blog post.

Lately, Cisco has focused on investing in its collaboration business, which last year brought in nearly $4 billion in revenue, or 10.4% of sales, according to its annual report. In December, the company acquired Collaborate.com to expand its mobile and social collaboration portfolio.

Can the trendy tech strategy of DevOps really bring peace between developers and IT operations -- and deliver faster, more reliable app creation and delivery? Also in the DevOps Challenge issue of InformationWeek: Execs charting digital business strategies can't afford to take Internet connectivity for granted.

Kristin Burnham currently serves as InformationWeek.com's Senior Editor, covering social media, social business, IT leadership and IT careers. Prior to joining InformationWeek in July 2013, she served in a number of roles at CIO magazine and CIO.com, most recently as senior ... View Full Bio

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Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
5/2/2014 | 12:30:14 PM
Why partner?
I was surprised that Cisco didn't just buy Jive, given its acquisition history. Maybe requiring a dress rehearsal to see if social will get uptake as part of UC?
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
5/2/2014 | 12:41:05 PM
Agreed: Cisco and Jive make a nice couple
I always thought the pairing of realtime and asynchronous collaboration Cisco promoted as the distinguishing characteristic of its social platform made a lot of sense, even though it never seemed to buy them all that much mindshare. With Jive's more mature social software in the mix (particularly if they do go from courtship to marriage), Cisco can play a bigger role in all forms of business collaboration. Jive Software gains another selling point and a powerful channel partner (or corporate spouse).

If they get serious about merging the technologies, they will have a leg up from having made some key parallel technology and standards choices. Jive has been one of the prime backers of OpenSocial, and the late, lamented WebEx Social was based partly on the OpenSocial reference platform, Apache Shindig. I'm not sure how many customers Cisco had for WebEx Social, but that commonality might make it a little easier to switch from one to the other or port some content over (a process that's often awkward between social platforms).

I'd like to hear from Jive and WebEx Social customers what they think of this development.

- David F. Carr, author, Social Collaboration for Dummies
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
5/3/2014 | 11:09:15 PM
Re: Agreed: Cisco and Jive make a nice couple
As the market for enterprise social software continues to develop, we're seeing the market consolidate around key vendors," - this is very good point. The trend of social business is to consolidate to few big vendors. These vendors will offer a comprehensive social business solution/platform instead of standalone product/project. Nowadays you cannot simply sell the concept of Office Automation but what you offer should be a solution - the end user should realize the end-to-end collaboration by facilitating your product. So the change mentioned in the post aligns with the trend.
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