Cisco wrote in a blog post that OJ Winge is out and Rowan Trollope is in as the new leader for its Collaboration Business. That includes Cisco TelePresence, Cisco Unified Communications Manager, and Cisco WebEx.
What is interesting about this is the fact that Winge held the position for less than five months, replacing another short-timer before that. Cisco has been shuffling the deck with executive arrivals and departures for more than a year, causing industry watchers to raise a virtual eyebrow in columns on CRN and Network World. I thought it was interesting that both Jim Duffy and Chad Berndtson used the phrase “Cisco’s struggling collaboration group/business unit.” This refers to the fact that the collaboration unit saw an 8% decline in revenues in the latest quarter. But it also seems to acknowledge the revolving doors at top management levels.
My interest in this blog lies in just a small subset of Cisco’s total collaboration picture. I focus on WebEx – and particularly WebEx Event Center for use in webinars and webcasts. In September I wrote a post about Event Center’s stagnation in features and functionality. In June and July of this year, I looked at warning signs for WebEx in Cisco’s use of the brand name to encompass more and more loosely associated products and application uses – potentially leading to a lack of focus and a lack of definition as a solution for any customer’s particular business needs.
A few of my recent clients have had me working with WebEx Event Center and Meeting Center much more frequently and intensively for the past couple of months than I had been for a year or two. I find going back to WebEx after using its more progressive competitors uncomfortably like visiting the past in far too many ways. I am frustrated by inflexible operations, delays in getting data, and poorly handled visual displays.
When webinar products were novel and evolving, it was easy to overlook little restrictions on functionality in favor of WebEx’s relative stability and support infrastructure, as well as basic functionality that others had not yet implemented. But I can’t overlook those same limitations at this point. The world has moved on and WebEx Event Center hasn’t.
Maybe the future for Cisco collaboration is purely in peer-level social networking, unified communications, and large corporate video telepresence. Support for one-to-many webinars seems to be far down on Cisco’s priority list. I feel more and more like Cisco WebEx is following the path taken by Microsoft Live Meeting. Eventually the market-leading product we all used will simply disappear into a larger suite of generalized communication and collaboration utilities, sold as a generic platform rather than as a specific solution for a particular need.
In my eyes, more the pity.