Cisco Quad is now Cisco WebEx Social, complete with social collaboration enhancements like a Unified Post function that makes creating a post as easy as writing an e-mail.

The updated product, announced Tuesday, will add new features for sharing knowledge, finding experts, and working together in virtual teams. Murali Sitaram, vice president and general manager of Cisco's Cloud Collaboration Technology Group, said in a statement that these enhancements will marry "the best of consumer social network features with a complete set of integrated collaboration cloud services," allowing users to participate from the device they choose.

Integration with Office

The product now known as WebEx Social is an enterprise collaboration platform that integrates social networking, content development and real-time communications. Pre-built communications applications include Cisco Jabber IM and Presence, Web conferencing and Unified Communications Manager.

A Unified Post function is at the heart of the platform's collaboration functions. The company said creating a post in WebEx Social "is as easy as writing an e-mail," and includes the ability to share content or media, attach files, embed links, conduct group discussions or edit collaboratively.

New capabilities for the rebranded platform include integration with Microsoft Office so users can jointly edit and post files from Word, PowerPoint, or Excel to WebEx Social. There's also the ability for users to stay within e-mail clients, such as Microsoft Outlook, while posting updates to WebEx Social.

Browser-based video calling will enable high-definition video conferencing without needing a separate client. The company said that the video capability is compatible with Cisco TelePresence, IP video phones, and mobile clients.

Mobile, Calendar, Deployment

Enhancements to the WebEx Social iPhone and iPad clients will add real-time instant messaging, Web conferencing, and voice calls. A new software development kit will allow outside developers to customize some of WebEx Social's capabilities, such as Activity Streams, Watch Lists or Open Search.

With the update to the app's calendar, users can now view, join, or start meetings from the calendar, and a new Expert Q&A provides for crowd-sourced answers by routing questions to an organization's experts.

The new release also provides a choice of deployments -- either as an on-premise installation, a partner-hosted deployment, or a Cisco-hosted cloud offering. In addition to replacing the Quad brand, the new WebEx Social also now encompasses the company's telepresence solution, Cisco Callway.

We asked Michael Smith, group director for Cisco Collaborative Solutions Marketing, to highlight what he saw as the updated product's distinguishing advantages.

Smith pointed to a better integration with existing applications, such as Office and e-mail. "Most people collaborate with e-mail," he said, so offering WebEx Social capabilities within that environment coincides with typical workflows.

He also noted that an expansion of real-time capabilities, such as instant messaging and video calling, builds on Cisco's strengths in those technologies, and that social capabilities on mobile clients broaden the collaborative opportunities.