Cisco Expands Its Social Circle

    February 9, 2007

When you think of Cisco, the company’s prowess in networking and IP technology immediately comes to mind. With today’s announcement, however, it appears that Cisco is branching out into a different kind of networking, the kind geared toward people rather than machines.

Cisco has announced an agreement acquire Five Across, a San Francisco based social networking software company. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but Cisco hopes to complete the purchase by the end of its fiscal third quarter.

There are no plans by Cisco, however, to construct a social network to compete with the likes of MySpace and Facebook. The company instead plans to implement the technology as a tool for businesses to connect better with their customers.

The company plans on doing this by implementing Connect Community Builder, the social networking software developed by Five Across. The package includes a variety of social features for businesses such as individual profile pages, friend lists, discussions, and posting of blogs, videos and podcasts.

"There’s quite a bit of need for experimentation from [traditional] media companies to show their stockholders they can take advantage of the Web and they’re not going to cede it to new media companies," says IDC consumer analyst Danielle Levitas in an article covering the announcement.

"A good social-networking component to a media company’s Web site could help foster viewer loyalty or even be a place to test new shows among core viewers."

Levitas continues, "Web-based content is incredibly bit-heavy. Social networking brings end users into the game so there is a lot of data coming upstream from the edge of the network as well as downstream from the company."

The growing demand for transparency from enterprises is one of the primary motivators for the implementation of social features. Consumers don’t want to just download information, they also want an avenue in which they can interact with companies and have their ideas, praises, and criticisms heard as well as gain valuable insight into a company’s internal practices.

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