Before Cisco announced the details of its corporate restructuring in July, rumors swarmed that it was considering divesting of its WebEx online collaboration platform. Cisco has denied those rumors and is placing any lingering doubts on WebEx’s future with a special offer for a lightweight version of the subscription service geared toward small businesses.
Cisco is offering a $19 per month subscription that enables small businesses to host online audio and video meetings for up to eight people. The price is a sharp decrease to the normal subscription of $49 per month for meetings up to 25 attendees.
The new price point is intended to entice small businesses, startup and home users to sign up to the service that competes with Citrix’s GoToMeeting and a plethora of similar offerings. The catch, from a channel perspective, is the offer is only available in the U.S. and it’s sold direct through Cisco’s online portal.
Earlier this year Cisco unveiled a new program in which channel partners could offer full-version WebEx subscriptions to customers for $39 per month, enabling them to pocket a 20 percent margin. No word on how well that program is fairing, but it and this new small business initiative does show how Cisco wants to remain in the collaboration game.
To be honest, Cisco hasn’t fared all that well with WebEx brand. While the collaboration aspects of the business thrives, Cisco hasn’t been able to capitalize on the subscriber base to add new services. For instance, Cisco last year tried to parlay WebEx to launch a hosted email service to compete against Google and Microsoft. The service failed to gain traction, and Cisco pulled the plug in February.
This new lightweight offering could help Cisco tap a new market that doesn’t believe it need or can afford collaboration. If it gains traction here, WebEx’s competitive positioning will improve.
Ordinarily, a vendor selling a cloud-based service direct and indirect would warrant a red flag for channel conflict. In this instance, though, the new WebEx subscription level may serve as a gateway for the full-version subscription or other products and services. In other words, it good lead generation program for Cisco and its partners. But that optimistic outcome is contingent upon Cisco developing a program to collect, qualify and disseminate leads – something few vendors do well on a mass scale.
* * *
Lawrence M. Walsh is CEO and president of The 2112 Group, a technology business advisory service that specializes in optimizing indirect channels and partner relationships. He’s also the executive director of the Channel Vanguard Council. He is the former publisher of Channel Insider and editor of VARBusiness Magazine. You can reach him at email@example.com.
One Response to “Cisco Gets Small with New WebEx Offering”
Leave a Reply