Building on its previous work in electronic collaboration forms that include audio and video conferencing, Cisco Systems is now offering ways to manage workers’ day-to-day interactions and tasks. The networking giant this week announced the availability of Project Squared, a service aimed at offering an online gathering place for getting work done.
Project Squared is delivered via an app or the Web. It is the latest response to changes in the way people work in 2014, which often involves being on the move with smartphones and tablets instead of in front of computers, according to Cisco. These mobile workers are more at home using instant messaging and find e-mail cumbersome. That development has encouraged a wave of next-generation collaboration tools.
Best of Both Worlds
Project Squared combines communications that take place in real time, such as videoconferences and meetings carried via Cisco’s WebEx services, with those that don’t such as posted messages, documents and presentations, said Rowan Trollope, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco’s collaboration technology group.
"We created Project Squared and the Cisco Collaboration Cloud platform to deliver on our dream to transform the collaboration experience, making it easy to stay constantly connected to the people, projects and ideas that matter most," said Trollope. "We have lots of ideas on how to continue to enhance the Project Squared experience, and we’re on a mission to keep integrating with important business tools so that your rooms truly help you do your best work."
One of the main selling points of Project Squared is that it gives teams a place to work together virtually, according to Cisco. In one scenario, teams can download Project Squared, start a room on any topic, and invite others inside or outside the organization to join by entering their names or e-mail addresses. Once in the room, team members can securely share messages, post files, and start voice and video calls. Files created in the cloud are viewable immediately alongside messages, with no download necessary. It solves the problem with real time connecting to non-real time, Trollope noted.
Project Squared integrates with business tools including calendars, Active Directory, WebEx and Box. Cisco is planning both free and paid versions of the new product. The company said it will allow users of its conventional conferencing systems to connect to Project Squared’s virtual rooms.
Cisco announced the new offering at an event in Los Angeles hosted by its CEO, John Chambers. Cisco saw a 10 percent decline in revenue for its collaboration business in its fiscal first quarter.
Project Squared is available as a downloadable app for iPhone and iPad as well as mobile devices powered by Google’s Android operating system. It is also available to PC users via a Web browser, with voice and video capabilities optimized for Firefox. There is also an app for Mac desktops, according to Cisco.