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Streaming Forum [27 February 2018]

Commentary: Eyes on the Enterprise—Cisco's Wake-Up Call
It might seem like a sleeping giant now, but the combination of Cisco and WebEx will do far more to transform the online video space than Google’s acquisition of YouTube last year.
Tues., May 29, by Steve Vonder Haar.

The alarm clock has been set. The sleeping giant in enterprise web communications is slated to wake up at about this time in 2009.

That’s the net effect of Cisco Systems deal announced in March to buy collaboration king WebEx Communications in a transaction valued at $3.2 billion. For many in the business world, the transaction has pretty much fallen off the radar screen. Seemingly, just another tech acquisition to fill the pages of The Wall Street Journal for a day.

But that perspective is short-sighted, to say the least. Without a doubt, the Cisco/WebEx combination will do far more to transform the online video space than Google’s acquisition of YouTube last year.

The only trouble is that it’s going to take at least two years for the combination of Cisco and WebEx to blend their strengths in a way that will fundamentally change the market for the business deployment of online video communications.

That prediction may come as a surprise to some who recall my past rants about the web-conferencing market.

It’s true that I’ve never been the biggest fan of WebEx. And the folks at WebEx respectfully disagreed with me last year when I used the pages of Streaming Media to explain how and why collaboration technology is heading down the slippery and treacherous slope towards commodity status. (It’s funny how firms portraying themselves as growth companies get sensitive when you tell the world that their franchise service is becoming a commodity.)

But, as an industry pundit focused on the enterprise multimedia space, I’ve always been frustrated by WebEx’s lack of attention to the opportunities of online video. In the world of business web communications, WebEx is the 600 lb. gorilla. It has the customer base and cash cushion to do whatever it wants. Historically, the WebEx roadmap has never included a serious commitment to developing video-oriented extensions to its core collaboration platform.

Sure, the company offered integration of some webcam video capabilities and even made some token acquisitions in the space. But never-ever did one get the feeling that WebEx was truly committing itself to promoting and openly encouraging the integration of video communications capabilities into the day-to-day experience of the average WebEx corporate customer.

The company’s seeming willingness to settle for domination of the collaboration space while ignoring the opportunities in the video realm is what made WebEx the sleeping giant in the Web communications sector.