Cisco is attempting to solve three business problems with its new WebEx Social 3.0 (formerly Quad) application: flexible working, organizational silos and scaling and capturing knowledge.

Flexing the Workplace

“Whether it’s BYOD, remote office, home office or field workers, more people are working flexibly,” said Raj Gossain, VP of Product Management, Collaboration Software Group at Cisco, said during an interview with CMSWire. “People feel disconnected when they’re on email or a voice on the end of an audio conference call.”

Using WebEx Social, Gossain said flexible employees can take part in the “virtual water cooler conversation. You can see activity on the projects you’re responsible for and tasks and tags you want to keep track of.”

In addition, Gossain said WebEx Social 3.0 creates an open information flow that breaks silos by allowing employees to “discover other individuals they didn’t even know existed.” Employees can thus create new groups based on area of expertise rather than on who they know personally, Gossain said. He added that integrations with applications such as Notes and Exchange allows users to “unlock” the value of email threads that have been stuck in inboxes, allowing knowledge capture on a broader scale than would otherwise be possible. Email notifications allow users more comfortable with email to respond to WebEx postings via email, providing what Gossain termed a “bridge” to social networking.

Integrating Other Apps with WebEx Social

Cisco is integrating a variety of other business applications with WebEx Social 3.0. For example, integration with Microsoft Office allows workers using Word, PowerPoint or Excel to jointly edit and post updated documents, presentations and spreadsheets back to WebEx Social. A sidebar plug-in called WebEx Social for Office allows Office users to see WebEx Social activity streams within the Office application. Cisco also offers integration with other Cisco applications for enterprise voice, IT telephony, video communications and instant messaging.

On an individual basis, Gossain said Cisco can build gadgets and portlets allowing users to connect WebEx Social with transactional solutions. For example, Nike is working on connecting its WebEx Social implementation with in-house transactional systems to place activities such as canceled or reduced orders into the activity stream for prompt response (see: Enterprise 2.0 Keynote Speakers Stress Collaboration, Mobility)

Beginning in July 2012, Cisco will begin offering WebEx Social 3.0 in both on-premises (WebEx Social Server) and cloud-based SaaS options. Gossain said the decision to rebrand Quad under the WebEx name was due to WebEx’s association with cloud-based services. The solution will also be available for iPhone and iPad, with an Android-compatible version to follow.

Cisco Upgrades Telepresence Solution

Cisco is also upgrading its Cisco WebEx Telepresence solution (formerly known as Callway). The new version includes features such as the ability to host a video call with up to nine users on the WebEx Telepresence network and an online customer portal for central management of subscriptions and contact lists.