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Will Cisco Social Media Deals Impact Enterprise?

Cisco Systems sealed a deal this week to purchase software assets from, and acquire employees of, social-networking site operator Utah Street Networks. The networking equipment giant also finalized its acquisition Five Across, originally announced in February. Five Across makes social-networking and forum software to help companies improve communications with customers.

Web 2.0 and social networking have generated a mini-bubble of hype and exaggeration about the transformative powers of collaboration and aggregation. The cynical analysis is that Cisco is cashing in on the bubble by buying social-networking tools they can resell to corporations who think they should "do" social networking but don't have a real strategy.

But here's another angle. It's not difficult to imagine social-networking tools being integrated into Cisco's Unified Communications suite. Corporations that create social networks to boost collaboration among employees may find value here. For instance, how about updating a corporate wiki by sending new text from your BlackBerry? Or providing presence information for geographically diverse coworkers as they collaborate on a long-term project online? It's possible there's a real business model here.
Andrew Conry-Murray
NWC Business Editor

The enterprise impact of its moves remains to be seen (read NWC's analysis at right).

Cisco said it would incorporate Utah Street Networks, which operates the locally focused social-networking site, into its Cisco Media Solutions Group (CMSG). That group was started in December 2006 to create and promote infrastructure products for consumer content providers. Cisco said, however, that it would not integrate site itself. It provided no financial details for the Utah Street Networks transaction.

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