Cisco Systems is dropping its hosted e-mail product. Apparently, Cisco Mail no longer fits into the company's win column as it makes strategic decisions about its future.
Debra Chrapaty, senior vice president of collaboration software at Cisco, said technology transitions that promise to reshape industries and feedback from customers drive the company's strategic decision-making. Those two drivers are what led Cisco to develop Cisco Mail in the first place.
"In the 13 months since, we've been market-testing Cisco Mail via a controlled release," Chrapaty said. "The product has been well received, but we've since learned that customers have come to view their e-mail as a mature and commoditized tool versus a long-term differentiated element of their collaboration strategy. We've also heard that customers are eager to embrace emerging collaboration tools such as social software and video."
Focusing on Quad
She said customers' willingness to embrace emerging collaboration tools was the key factor in the decision to discontinue investing in Cisco Mail. Cisco will assist current trial customers with the transition to other e-mail alternatives and support them for the length of their contract. It will also continue integrating to other e-mail systems to protect its customers' legacy investments.
"The talented Cisco employees who built and supported the Cisco Mail product will be reassigned to other collaboration products and services that customers view as more strategic," Chrapaty said. The team will likely focus its efforts on Cisco's Quad social-collaboration tools.
"It should go without saying that Cisco remains very committed to the collaboration technology market opportunity overall," she added. "We will continue to listen to our customers and we will take appropriate risks to ensure that our collaboration architecture continues to position Cisco to lead in this $38 billion market."
Getting Social Media Right
Zeus Kerravala, a vice president at Yankee Group, isn't surprised that Cisco dropped its hosted e-mail product. Although Cisco has an opportunity to tap into a $30 billion-plus market in which even 10 percent of the market would move the needle for the tech giant, Kerravala said Cisco is moving to focus itself more and hosted e-mail is one area in which the company can afford not to play.
"From a Cisco perspective, the opportunity to nail corporate social media will present them with a bigger opportunity than to do corporate social media partially right and e-mail partially right," Kerravala said. "E-mail usage has peaked, in a way."
He pointed to generational trends that drive communication. Much like the last generation of workers drove people away from the phone to e-mail, he said, the generation of workers today will move people away from e-mail to social media.
"The cloud-based opportunity for Cisco would have been there given a lot of caveats that they build it out right," Kerravala said. "But the opportunity for social media to usurp e-mail and cut that market is probably bigger for them."