Today, Cisco announced a partnership with Jive to integrate the latter’s social collaboration platform with Jabber and WebEx. The partnership has set the Jive stock on fire, which soared by 9% shortly after the announcement. The partnership will see deep integration between the Jive Social Business Portal and Cisco’s communications and collaboration applications that will allow users to initiate voice and video calls, see presence status and do instant messaging at the click of a button. The announcement ends Jive’s prolonged quest to partner with leading communications vendors to kickstart sales and really boost market sentiments. For customers, they can engage in persistent, real-time conversations without having to switch between multiple platforms and interfaces.
First Quad, Now WebEx Social
Buried somewhere deep under the announcement was a by-the-way-we-are-dumping-WebExSocial statement from Cisco. By abandoning WebEx Social, Cisco is acknowledging that its social collaboration efforts have failed to impress markets and customers. WebEx Social’s earlier avatar was Quad, Cisco’s on-premises version that never progressed beyond pilot implementations among its customers. The platform was too complex and closed (and probably expensive) to really become a competitive force in the market. Cisco’s efforts to move it to the cloud was an attempt to piggyback on its more popular cloud-based collaboration platform, WebEx, and probably spur adoption through some intelligent bundling.
Jive’s Window of Opportunity
Jive has a reason to celebrate. With the Cisco brand name, marketing muscle, and sales prowess, it is easier to get a foothold in large enterprise accounts. However, I believe this is going to be just a short-term window of opportunity, until Cisco finds an alternative, either via an acquisition or in-house development of capabilities. I cannot but help compare this partnership with the earlier Cisco-Radvision deal. In the early days, Cisco did not have any video products outside of its TelePresence suite. Multi-point control units or MCUs were outsourced from Radvision under an OEM agreement. Cisco had the TelePresence Multipoint Switch, a vastly different architecture from the Radvision SCOPIA MCUs, which were standards-based and could interwork with MCUs from other vendors. When Cisco opted for the M&A route to fill portfolio gaps, Radvision had close to $44 million at stake, which accounted for about 42% of its total revenues. The Cisco pull-out from the partnership subsequent to its Tandberg acquisition had dire consequences for Radvision, which lasted until the very end, before it was sold to Avaya.
The Jive management should carefully evaluate how much they bet on this relationship with Cisco, given that its former competitor could at any given point of time go back to being just that, a competitor.