Cisco launches Community Platform “EOS” and aims at Media Industry

Cisco launches “Entertainment Operating System” (EOS)
I spent the day with Cisco’s Eos team a few weeks ago in their shiny SF offices, and learned a great deal about their SaaS platform and intentions to provide a community platform to the media industry, much of my conversation is still under NDA, although they’ve already gone public with this announcement from CNET and WSJ. This project, while we certainly had our suspicions was kept very quiet, and even Cisco’s social media teams I’ve spoken to weren’t fully aware of the project.

Stemming from Community Experience at Five Across
In Feb 2007 (yes way back then) Cisco acquired community platform Five Across, and has since integrated the team with this media solutions business. Their goal? To provide a community platform to the media industry, of course eventually served up on Cisco’s infrastructure. This moves Cisco away from infrastructure (servers, networking, routers) and now to the application space, providing a broader offering to the large networks that don’t just want to put their videos on YouTube for Google to monetize.

New kid on the block will have some challenges
This doesn’t come without challenges for Cisco’s Eos team, as our research has indicated that community deployments are only 20% technology and the other 80% being process, roles, culture, measurement, and change management, this gives Cisco’s Eos a sharp learning curve, they’ll need to combat this with the success the team from Five Across and Tribe have gleaned over the years. Secondly, any new product is going to be plagued with areas to be tweaked, and some media brands may not want to be the early guinea pigs for such a deployment.

Takes aim at Kickapps and Pluck but backed by huge name
While there’s plenty of market share to go around during this growth period, this is a direct insertion into the deal flow of media focused vendors like Pluck and Kickapps, so you can expect brands to be sending RFPs to Cisco’s Eos team for evaluation. While the encumbants have a track record of success and Eos doesn’t have a folder filled with case studies, they do lead with Warner Music and have launched Laura Izibor and Sean Paul (I checked the code, it’s calling Cisco EOS code), they do have two strong things going for them: 1) Cisco’s existing footprint in the enterprise, 2) The thousands in the Cisco sales force and all of their contacts. and 3) Brand recognition from the big, safe, and profitable Cisco.

Over 100 vendors in this space
Exciting times ahead, I’ve just added Cisco to the ever growing list of community platforms –it’s over 100 vendors now.

Key Takeaways

  • Great move for Cisco as it puts more ‘bits in the pipe’, as online video increases demand for their networking gear.
  • Cisco EOS team will need to demonstrate they offer more than just technology to be successful, media companies need solution vendors –not technology vendors.
  • Competitors now have to compete against infrastructure play and big brand backing.
  • Cisco could drive down prices by offering Eos at bargain prices as a loss leader for other offerings.
  • Social Networking software is a cheap commodity and market is oversaturated, expect a shakeout during this recession.
  • Other large infrastructure players like Sun, IBM, Microsoft, EMC, and CMS vendors will eye the community platform space for buyout –yet startups will resist during periods of low valuation.
  • Update: Scott Brown from the EOS team has responded to me in the comments, and from the new EOS blog, he says my assessment was fair, which is of course one of the attributes I’m aiming for.