Last week, Cisco announced its intent to acquire Latitude for $80M. With Latitude, Cisco gains the leading voice conferencing vendor along with additional collaboration technology (e.g., Web conferencing, instant-messaging [IM] integration) that will help position it as a leader in collaborative communication infrastructure. In a recent META Group multiclient study, conferencing ranked as the most influential reason to converge communication over the IP network. Latitude enhances Cisco’s ability to compete with other collaboration and communication infrastructure vendors (e.g., Microsoft, Polycom, WebEx). Latitude’s presence in voice, data, and video bridging (via Radvision partnership), along with its integration with Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes, and IM (Latitude's deal with FaceTime), and its Flash-based development tool round out Cisco's overall collaborative communications portfolio. Current Latitude customers will benefit from Cisco's viability and financial strength, yet should expect tighter product integration into Cisco’s own IP telephony portfolio. Despite Latitude's limited market penetration in Web conferencing, we expect this deal to increase competition between Cisco and real-time collaboration vendors (Centra, Interwise, FVC, IBM, Microsoft, Open Text) and force other communication infrastructure vendors to match Cisco’s progress (Siemens, Alcatel, Nortel).
Bottom Line: Users must review their communication and collaboration architectures and consider how the consolidation of conferencing and communication can yield better corporate voice services and lower costs.
META Group originally published this article on 18 November 2003.