It was with some interest that I read The Forrester Wave™: Collaboration Platforms, Q3 2009 after a link was Tweeted out yesterday. I was reading in reverse order from Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, see my Gartner Magic Quadrant; a dark horse closing up the outside fence… My main interest in Forrester’s was to see where Jive were placed. Of late I’ve been doing a lot of hands-on work with Jive and getting to know the platform in a great amount of detail.
On reading the wave report, I was struck by one small arrival – a horse of even darker hue, that of Cisco WebEx Connect as a collaboration platform. Most people are aware of WebEx as a webinar tool and have not used Connect. I was at Cisco when WebEx was acquired and in San Jose too and remember all the WebEx signs in the carpark. It all looked a bit puzzling, for me at least, until I found out about Connect. Connect is a superb tool and worth acquiring for that alone. It’s a SharePoint killer.
Here’s why. Connect is 2.0 in a way that SharePoint never will be. It’s modular, making it infinitely extendable and uses accessible open APIs:
- URL commands
- XML Request / Response interfaces with well-defined schemas
- Web Services interfaces that support Web Services Definition Language (WSDL) with access through Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP).
- Representational State Transfer (REST).
What this means is a rapidly deployable, file-store and silo-busting collaboration app with the ability to slot in any number of friendly mash-ups. Twitter for Connect/ no problemo, just load it up and slot it in. Facebook, ditto, iPhone easy. What’s more it’s robustly secure, no worries about the firewall with this baby. And of course it’s backed up by a tech behemoth. This is no start-up.
Potentially, this is the Enterprise 2.0 application.
I say potentially as to be frank I was surprised to see it in the Forrester Wave (and it’s not present in Gartner’s). The product is superb but I’ve never seen it pushed out and really marketed for what it is. Go to the WebEx site (and it’s still on the WebEx domain) and Connect is listed but not featured much. It doesn’t scream out what it does. What’s more, I couldn’t find the link where I might connect up with Connect. Puzzling.
Now if you go onto the Jive site you’ll see a lot of publicity about SharePoint connectivity. All good stuff as SharePoint is almost a defacto standard in many corporations. This could change almost overnight. Here’s how and why.
Cisco, Miscrosoft and Google are in a cage fight. That fight I dubbed The Battle of the Cloud a while back. Cisco own the Network, Miscrosoft the Software and Google own the Experience. All of these 3 areas get completely mashed up in the metaphor we currently know as the cloud. And I believe, the stakes are high enough to see severe casualties amongst the 3 big players. (See also Dion Hinchcliffe’s Cloud computing and the return of the platform wars…estimate is for $42 Billion by 2012, I’m taking the argument even further).
Against this backdrop, singular products like Connect, that many don’t even realise exists, provides some wonderfully disruptive possibilities as a disruptive Enterprise 2.0 collaboration tool. Given this, what I’d do if I was sitting in the board at San Jose would be to ramp up the marketing for Connect. And if I really wanted to shake up the whole apple cart, I’d also make it free.