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Enterprise Connect: Cisco Announces Multimedia Jabber Software

Cisco will promote its vision of multi-device unified communication and collaboration with a new multimedia version of Jabber and its forthcoming Android-powered Cius tablet, among other tools, Barry O'Sullivan, senior vice president of voice technology, told a keynote crowd at Enterprise Connect in Orlando on Tuesday

Cisco bought Jabber in 2008 and is expanding its instant messaging and presence detection technology to also serve as launchpad for voice and video calls and conferencing. The technology is actually coming first to smart phones, including the iPhone and Android phones, with a Mac client and a replacement for Cisco's current Personal Communicator for Windows client to follow later this year.

O'Sullivan said at the Enterprise Connect conference that Cisco is working to tame the diversity of computing clients created by the resurgence of MacOS and the advent of the iOS and Android mobile operating systems. "All this choice is great, but if our architecture can't handle multiple clients, the OS becomes an obstacle," he said. "Our strategy is to line up all of those devices, so everyone can participate in the same collaborative framework."

Jabber users will be able to see which of their contacts are online or on the phone and initiate voice or video calls with them. The software also makes it possible to transfer calls between a mobile phone, a Cisco desk phone, or a PC without dropping the connection, according to Cisco. Collaboration sessions can be shared with users on Cisco Quad, the company's enterprise social media software, which presents a similar contact list with buttons for launching voice and video sessions.

"I use this architecture and technology every day because I'm based in Ireland," O'Sullivan said. "My team is thousands of miles away, but I see them every day."

O'Sullivan also showcased the Cius tablet, which is scheduled for release in April, saying that because of high demand the company has cut its target price from about $1,000 to under $700. "We want to make it the device of choice in the enterprise," he said.

In O'Sullivan's version of recent computing history, the era of IP PBX telephony dawned in about 2001, followed by the beginnings of Unified Communications in 2006. The next wave of innovation will revolve around addressing a broader range of devices and modes of communications, he said.

Beyond personal communications, Cisco has advanced its vision of how call or contact centers will work with its SocialMiner product for spotting patterns such as derogatory mentions of a company's products in feeds from Twitter and other social media services. As part of an on-stage demo, he showed how a contact center agent could reach out to a critic, initiate a video call with that person, and then share the recorded video with others in the company through the Quad portal -- in the process, extracting a transcript from the video to make it searchable.

As video becomes ubiquitous -- likely becoming an embedded capability in browsers -- and wireless bandwidth continues to multiply, many more opportunities and challenges will emerge over the next few years, O'Sullivan said. "It's important to have an architectural approach that builds in flexibility for the change that will come, and that's why you need to push your vendors on standards-based interoperability," he said.