The recently updated Cisco WebEx for iPad app with new Box integration brings together two very powerful collaboration platforms from Cisco and Box. In fact, it delivers one of the most efficient and productive mobile collaboration experiences in the market.
Tapping into open APIs on both sides, the new WebEx and Box integration enables mobile Apple iPad users the ability to share and collaborate in a live WebEx meeting with content hosted in Box. Being a heavy mobile user myself, I couldn’t wait to give this new feature a road test and get a better understanding of how it will make an impact in the enterprise marketplace; which is quickly being dominated by players like Google apps, Salesforce.com and Office 365.
I’m delighted to report that over the past few weeks I’ve grown to love this new integration, which has quickly enhanced my own mobile collaboration and productivity. The first thing that struck me was how much Cisco has stepped up the focus on the overall user experience design.
The new Cisco WebEx for iPad 5.0 update delivers a simple setup process to enable the Box integration and a one button ‘share content’ option right in the center of the meeting window. This makes it elegantly easy to get started and collaborate with ease.
The frictionless sharing of content such as Word docs and spreadsheets, during my adhoc meetings, has quickly fueled an even greater adoption of the already action packed WebEx app. That said, I’m still a tad underwhelmed when attempting to use the new integration to host a formal presentation in a native PowerPoint file format.
It appears the Cisco WebEx for iPad app struggles to render complex multilayered slides with embedded animations and transitions which has been an ongoing battle in general for PowerPoint presentations when trying to share in third-party apps and platforms. On the flip side, sharing simple and preformatted presentations in a PDF format looks and works exceptionally well.
From an emerging collaboration strategy perspective, this integration is of significant interest. It underscores a shift taking place within an enterprise market where APIs are now playing a critical role in accelerating innovative, new, muti-vendor collaboration solutions.
It’s also interesting to see how quickly Box is transforming into an enterprise collaboration powerhouse while leveraging it’s ‘born in the cloud’ roots as a hosted file sharing service with native APIs in their core DNA. I’ve seen the Box impact on collaboration happen first hand within my own team at CDW where my fellow coworkers, with an almost shocking fluidity, began heavily using Box and quickly adopted the native commenting and activity stream to become our de facto intra-team social collaboration platform.
It’s also exciting to see Cisco’s social collaboration strategy shift away from trying to build its own platform into this new focus of bringing social activity streams, such as this Box integration, into the core collaboration solution stack. The exciting organic adoption of new collaboration capabilities within Box brings awareness that social collaboration is often most compelling as a social layer extended into business line workflows This can be seen from our WebEx + Box solution,versus trying to force users into some new social intranet portal.
This is just the beginning to an exciting year in 2014. I fully expect to see even more fantastic collaboration solution integrations as vendors like Cisco and Box continue to raise the bar in enterprise collaboration solutions fueled by the emerging API economy. It’ll be very interesting to see how existing enterprise collaboration platforms like Salesforce.com, Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365 will be impacted as they shift to support similar API integrated solutions.
By Ken Snyder