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Competition heats up in the collaboration space

Competition heats up in the collaboration space

Cisco places big bets on Web 2.0 technologies for the enterprise and the smart electric grid.

A number of New Zealand enterprises block their staff from accessing social networking sites like Facebook and YouTube. But it is the features that make these websites so popular that Cisco has incorporated into its Enterprise Collaboration Platform.

Geoff Laurie, Cisco New Zealand country manager, calls the new set of products “the YouTube and Facebook for the enterprise”.

Its features include “show and share” which allows staff to upload videos on to their private website. Users can edit the videos and comment on the postings.

The second product uses a technology called Pulse, which is said by Cisco to be the “Facebook” of the enterprise. With Pulse staff can set up their profile page similar to Facebook, to keep other enterprise users updated on their activities. The users can also utilise a search engine to help find the right person to work with on a given project or to discuss a work-related issue.

“These are not vapourware,” says Laurie, as the technologies will be ready for enterprise use in January.

He says consumer social networking technologies are good on collaboration for social purposes. The Cisco collaboration platform is “goal directed”, which is what the enterprises will use the collaboration technologies for.

He says this is a step forward from the current collaboration mode involving mainly documents. The new platform will include voice, instant messaging and video. “Video is the most natural way to collaborate,” says Laurie for young staff coming into the workplace.

Cisco New Zealand presented these technologies through a videoconference meeting with Guido Jouret, chief technology officer of Cisco’s emerging technology group in San Jose, California. The meeting was conducted using the Telepresence high-definition videoconferencing system, one of the “start up technologies” developed by the emerging technology group.

At the presentation at Cisco’s headquarters in Auckland, Jouret also discussed the company’s development of a smart electricity grid. The end goal is to build a “digital nervous system” that will spread the electric load out.

Jouret says this grid can potentially be “larger than the internet”.

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