The Next Social Network Giant: Cisco?

Now this is definitely different: Cisco is apparently going to acquire 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 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 doesn’t make sense to me: the tech is much less suited to a corporate rollout, and I can’t imagine what else they’d do with it.” Meanwhile, Marc Andreessen, whic founded Ning (which launched its ultra-cool social networking service this week) tells the NYT that, “The idea that Cisco is going to be a force in social networking is about as plausible as Ning being a force in optical switches.”

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.

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  • Baba

    It’s about as plausible as Ning being a force in social networking.

  • Joseph Fiore


    I responded on Matt’s blog when this story first broke – but for some reason it never got posted. I’ll try it again here.

    There is no doubt that there is “trend following” aspect to the move.

    However, there is an angle that many might not have considered.

    It is a belief of mine that to be the very best at one’s profession, you must sometimes learn about its ugly and dark side.

    Namely, that by the nature of social networking sites creating an “open” atmosphere to contribute (in MySpace’s case, profile, comment, blog, forum and group posting), it also creates a fertile nesting ground for malware and troublemakers to wreak havoc.

    Who better to find immersed within the eye of the cyber-storm than an Iron Giant, to better understand, experience, and attempt to be the first to provide solutions for all the darlings of the social networking scene to utilize, and to aid them in maintaining order and civility?

    I’ve written a piece on the impact malware, trackers and flooding scripts are having on MySpace, and how it might well someday find itself being the target for black hats and attack bots to perpetrate mayhem, fraud, and chaos.

    I don’t want to sidetrack this discussion by posting a link here, however I’d be happy to forward the post if this is something that is of interest.