WebEx CEO Subrah Iyar has built an on demand software company with 1.7 million subscribers,23,000 customers, 50,000 meetings a day, over $308 million in revenue. More than 99 percent of the revenue comes from the real-time meeting solutions that run on its MediaTone network. Last year, WebEx bought Internets.com, now called WebEx WebOffice, to expand its application footprint. WebOffice integrates asynchronous collaboration tools such as calendaring and document sharing with real-time collaboration capabilities such as Web meetings.
Now Iyar is looking to add more intelligent services to applications. "Traditional software simply delivered as a service won't very interesting to us. If you were developing an SFA application today from the ground up, it would have far more intelligence about the interactions taking place. It would be more than a repository of contact names and other data," Iyar said. WebEx has editions for meetings, sales, training, IT support and marketing, but the company is not going to move way beyond the collaboration roots to take on Salesforce.com, RightNow, SugarCRM or other on demand business application players, he said, but will instead try partner with those companies. "These are good systems for recording info. We see bigger innovation around enhancing SFA, HR, call centers or ERP to be more intelligent about interactions and utilize real-time capture of what is happening through sales and distribution channels," Iyar said.
That sounds a bit fuzzy, given the players and categories he mentioned have business intelligence built in. Iyar gave an example of asking the system to determine who has knowledge about a product, such as who sold to pharmas of a certain size, or has trained in certain product areas. The find an expert capability sounds like what Tacit Software does--automatically discovers an employee's work focus, expertise and business relationships.
Iyar said the company WebEx is also interested in talking with on demand players about leveraging WebEx's MediaTone backbone for delivering high quality-of-service solutions. "We want to allow third parties to leverage our infrastructure for any class of application," Iyar said. He didn't provide any specifics on building out the hosting business, and said that the more intelligent products or extensions would be ready in 18 to 24 months, which is several lifetimes on the Web.