The introduction of the Cius by Cisco late last month is a big deal for unified communications.
Though the tablet device is aimed squarely at the enterprise market, a good deal of the coverage focused on whether Cisco was taking on Apple and its iPad. The answer, delivered by chairman and CEO John Chambers, as quoted in Computerworld, is no.
When asked about comparisons of Cius to the iPad, Chambers was clear. “Cius is all about collaboration and telepresence,” he said. “It’s a business tablet. I use the iPad and love it. I love anything that loves networks. We do a lot with Apple and they are a great customer and good partner. I think of Cius as a business tablet, so [Cius and iPad] are complementary products with different target markets.”
That (probably) settles that. To the unified communications community, however, the most important part of Chambers’ response was the beginning. Inexorably, unified communications is becoming the unifying structure of enterprise communications. In some cases, the UC label is overt. In others, UC is presented as a menu of discrete applications and services. These can be video delivery – a featured capability of the Cius — or the somewhat vague term “collaboration.” At the end of the day, they all add up to UC.
Cisco, of course, has always been a major UC player. The Cius doesn’t change that. But it enhances it greatly by creating a highly functional interactive device that is an integral element of the unified communications platform.
This PC World story outlining five reasons to consider the Cius puts communications and collaboration at the top of the list and directly refers to unified communications. That is, of course, precisely where it should be. The Cius is a significant tactical and strategic move by Cisco as it battles for UC supremacy against Microsoft, IBM and others. The question isn’t whether Cisco is going after Apple. It’s what the Cius means for the company’s long-term UC strategy.