Microsoft and IBM have long dominated the enterprise messaging market, with Novell and Oracle holding onto a small and loyal set of customers. Google continues to threaten to enter this market but, as my colleague Guy Creese points out, still has a ways to go. This market hasn’t changed much in several years, other than it’s slow evolution in becoming integrated with hot new technologies like social networking. Now Cisco has jumped into the enterprise messaging market with the announcement of the acquisition of PostPath.

On the surface, Cisco has the size and resources to potentially challenge Microsoft’s and IBM’s dominance of the enterprise e-mail market. However, like Google, Cisco has a ways to go and displacing Microsoft and IBM as a preferred e-mail solution vendor will be very difficult. 

The e-mail market is established. To win, you have to take market share from Microsoft or IBM.  Their solutions are mature, integrated, and entrenched. Once in place, e-mail solutions tend to stay. 

Cisco’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) approach, ability to tie the PostPath solution to their existing collaborative technologies (notably WebEx), and knowledge of enterprise IT give them a shot taking market share. Initially, it is clear that Cisco is targeting Microsoft. 

It won’t be easy. Cisco has to answer the questions of why and how for enterprises. Why would an organization want to incur the cost to leave an e-mail solution that works for them today and how would an organization actually migrate to the Cisco solution?   

Both Microsoft and IBM are launching SaaS offerings that include e-mail and are meeting their customers enterprise messaging needs. Cisco is going to need a strong “Why” story. And if they don’t offer an easy “How” answer, then even a good “Why” story might not be enough to persuade many customers to leave their current solution. But, hey, this is technology. Anything can happen.

Note:  This is a cross-posting from the Collaboration and Content Strategies blog.

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