Now this is definitely different: Cisco is apparently going to acquire Tribe.net so it can use the struggling company’s technology to provide a social networking service to its 38,000 employees. Cisco is well known for making smart, strategic acquisitions but this one is completely out of the box. Upon reflection, I guess the deal could make some sense given how large companies are communities that work better when people can connect and collaborate with each other but it still seems like a strange move.
The puzzling – and intriguing – part of Cisco’s purchase of Tribe.net is why buy rather than build or outsource? And why buy a technology that has little to do with your core competency of making routers and switches to move Internet traffic? Mashable, for example, wonders WTF Cisco is doing: “Tribe thing, though, just doesnâ€™t make sense to me: the tech is much less suited to a corporate rollout, and I canâ€™t imagine what else theyâ€™d do with it.” Meanwhile, Marc Andreessen, whic founded Ning (which launched its ultra-cool social networking service this week) tells the NYT that, â€œThe idea that Cisco is going to be a force in social networking is about as plausible as Ning being a force in optical switches.â€
Stepping back, does the Cisco-Tribe deal validate or illustate Enterprise 2.0? My take is “maybe” because it demonstrates how Web-based technology can be used as a strategic/management tool as opposed to just being a Web-based service that replaces traditional client-server software. That said, I still think Enterprise 2.0 is as over-hyped as Web 2.0 – and continues to be a concept exploited by business consultants offering their services to explain what it actually means.