In a product release that could signal a new phase in the evolution of social networking, Cisco announced Wednesday the availability of a hosted social-networking platform designed specifically for the media and entertainment industries.
Called Eos -- short for Entertainment Operating System -- the platform was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Cisco says Eos is a powerful platform "that integrates social networking, content management, and site administration features into a single operating environment."
'Communities of Content'
Warner Music Group is one of the first entertainment companies to use the new platform for its artists Laura Izibor and Sean Paul.
Aside from the ability to offer hosted social networking at a fraction of the cost of building your own platform, Cisco is touting the ability to more effectively create "communities of content" for online audiences and fans, allowing content companies to focus on their content, rather than building and maintaining a platform.
Eos, according to Cisco, enables companies to create community-driven entertainment, to enable interaction with content and fans, to blend professionally created and user-generated content, and to personalize content to match users' interests. Site functionality can be defined via flexible, modular software, offering customization driven by particular brands.
Content can be stored in a central library and then utilized across a variety of communities, and the media library can be managed from a single set of controls. Additionally, targeting based on user behavior can increase revenue potential, according to Cisco, and related content can be customized for experiences on different sites.
Content Is the Key 'Social Object'
Features include blogs, posting files, creating customizable profiles, commenting on user-generated and professionally produced content, generating or contributing to a discussion, and connecting with others interested in the same content. Content can be tagged by whether it has been seen by other people who like the same content, by contextual matching that finds similar content, and by content that people in your network like.
In addition to moving social-networking capabilities into a software-as-a-service (SaaS) utility that can be rented as needed, Cisco sees Eos as following the changing nature of social networking. Initially, the company says, social networking concentrated on connecting people to people. Now social networking, especially for entertainment companies, has evolved into connecting "both people to people and people to content." The company contends that content, not personal relationships, "becomes the social object around which the community interacts," creating a new kind of entertainment experience.
Michael Gartenberg, vice president for consumer strategy at Jupitermedia, said hosted, SaaS-positioned social-networking platforms such as Eos could be very appealing to media companies. The orientation around both people-to-people and people-to-content connections in Eos also plays to entertainment companies, he noted. But, he said, this kind of hosted solution may eventually be appealing to smaller companies in other industries as well.