Cisco has launched a raft of new and enhanced products aimed at helping companies collaborate better using video, e-mail, instant messaging, telephony and other communications-intensive applications.
The two main new items are support for enterprise-class hosted e-mail and support for social networking applications, especially video-based communications.
Tim Stone, head of Cisco's European collaboration marketing, said Cisco believed the market potential for enterprise collaboration tools was $34bn. Much of it would involve greater use of video in both live and recorded formats.
He said employees were getting used to using advanced applications such as YouTube and Facebook at home, and expected to use similar tools to do their jobs.
He said firms adopting the new tools needed to plan for a rise in demand for network bandwidth. He said, "Show and Share can support the upload and viewing of videos encoded at different quality levels. Higher quality videos such as videos encoded in high definition typically require more bandwidth and can range from 300Kbps to 6Mbps or higher."
The new tools cover five main areas: voice and video, intercompany collaboration, interoperability between applications, social networking and e-mail, and software as a service.
Stone said factors driving the use of the new tools included globalisation, increasing mobility of staff and the need for them to work anywhere, and the consumerisation of IT, where home IT appliances such as PCs and smartphones offered more and better functionality than office equipment.
"People are using multiple devices and multiple sources of information to work and socialise," Stone said.
This was behind Cisco's move to create a single desktop-based portal that allowed the user to connect to any person or application seamlessly with a single click, and to have multiple applications running simultaneously in the portal.
The portal depends on tight integration between Cisco's Webex, Jabber instant messaging, telepresence and other application platforms. Security was provided through the use of IronPort technology, which Cisco acquired when it bought the firm.
Stone said Cisco was keen to invite software developers to write for Cisco's open application programming interfaces (APIs) to increase the choice of applications available to customers.
Stone said the hosted WebEx Mail e-mail service leveraged technology acquired from PostPath to overcome the limitations of traditional e-mail box size and provide on-demand, highly available, and optimised e-mail for mobile access.
Cisco was launching the service in North America, with a European launch likely towards the end of 2010.