Video: Webex guns for Enterprise Web Collaboration, joins Widget craze

Above: For those using a feedreader or email subscription, See video interview with Shankar Iyer, VP of Strategic Initiatives at WebEx

The trend for companies to use Gadgets and Widgets is not uncommon, Google and CapGemini are in partnership to reach the enterprise market as CapGemini has links to Microsoft’s Vista’s product.

I had morning coffee with Shankar Iyer, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives of WebEx, they use PodTech (where I’m employed for another week) for Audio and Video podcasting solutions. A few years ago, Webex purchased an internal collaboration tool they’ve started to fold into their platform. A few years ago, they released a secure IM tool, which a scaled down version has been used by AOl’s AIM product.

Most recently, WebEx has been putting resources into it’s WebEx Connect platform, which Shankar described as a “Business mashup collaboration platform”. Think widgets on top of a communication platform for extranet and intranet. There’s two major elements of this platform, one is a server side platform and the second is a client based widget platform. Inside of the client platform is a web based and desktop based program, each will quickly integrate widgets from third parties.

A practical use case of their platform could be for internal sales teams to collaborate build documents, proposals and plans, they could then work with prospects, sharing data, bringing the process to the close, then pass on to delivery and fulfillment teams. The toolset could comprise of video, IM, synchronous tools like persistent chat, document sharing, and even the dreaded email. Existing CRMs could create widgets that could deploy, making the process seamless. I’m somehow reminded of the portal movement in the late 90s which I was deploying at Exodus.

I asked Shankar a few other questions, and found out that this is part of the overall corporate strategy of WebEx, and also their recently new parent company, Cisco. In the future they will align with Cisco’s “Unified Communications” strategy, and integrate other products. I asked about Five Across, Tribes, and other acquistions, but he didn’t give me any hard answers. The Widget framework should be able to support widgets from other platforms, like NetVibes, Google Desktop and Google Widgets, Facebook and Microsoft Gadgets. “Do you have Live Video?” Shankar responded that they have partners like Veodia who are building a widget.

Web Strategy Recommendations
For companies wanting to reach the enterprise web space, I highly recommend you take a closer look at the WebEx Connect platform, they may already have the install base, corporate footprint in SMB, and may offer yet another distribution platform for your web service.

On a personal note, anything we can do to make meetings less painful or time consuming, let’s do it.