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Cisco and Salesforce plan joint UCC development

Cisco and Salesforce have agreed to develop and market Cisco Spark and WebEx for Salesforce's online software for sales and customer service.

Cisco and Salesforce have entered into a strategic alliance that includes integrating the Cisco Spark and WebEx collaboration services with Salesforce's online software for sales and customer service departments.

Announced last week, the marketing and development agreement also includes products for the vendors' internet of things (IoT) initiatives and contact centers. The companies plan to start shipping joint offerings in the second half of next year.

Cisco and Salesforce intend to integrate Spark and WebEx into Salesforce's Sales Cloud and Service Cloud. Sales Cloud lets companies analyze sales and customer data drawn from multiple business applications. Information enters Sales Cloud through an API provided by Salesforce. Service Cloud comprises myriad tools to help customer service agents understand and address customer concerns.

Spark and WebEx will let Sales and Service Cloud users communicate through texting, audio and video conferencing. They can also collaborate on documents and view presentations online. People can use these communication tools within Salesforce, avoiding the hassle of toggling among separate applications.

Over the last year, vendors, such as Avaya, Cisco, Mitel and Unify, have been trying to stand out in the market by delivering APIs that let companies embed unified communications (UC) into business processes. To date, few companies are using the APIs, but that's expected to change, as businesses migrate from hardware to more flexible, software-centric UC, according to Nemertes Research, based in Mokena, Ill.

As of today, roughly one quarter of companies that participated in a recent Nemertes survey had embedded UC in business apps. Another 29% were evaluating doing so.

Cisco and Salesforce plans for IoT, contact centers

Plans for the IoT market include integrating Cisco Jasper, which provides cellular connectivity, with the Salesforce IoT Cloud. The latter is an online platform for storing and processing event data generated by devices, sensors and software.

Cisco Jasper provides cloud-based software that acts as a broker between enterprises and cellular carriers. The technology manages wireless IoT connections and billing. Cisco obtained the online service this year through the $1.4 billion acquisition of Jasper Technologies.

As an example of a joint application, Cisco and Salesforce said a company with a fleet of Jasper-connected trucks could gather information to manage fleet maintenance or provide customers with delivery updates.

Finally, Cisco plans to integrate its Unified Contact Center Enterprise product with Service Cloud to help companies manage call centers more efficiently. Cisco UCCE lets agents interact with customers through chat sessions, web collaboration, email and social media. The UCCE interface allows an agent to communicate with multiple customers simultaneously.

Overall, Cisco and Salesforce expect the integrations to "simplify the customer experience across sales, service and IoT, and empower our mutual customers to be far more productive," Ryan Aytay, executive vice president for strategic product alliances at Salesforce, said in a statement.

Cisco has entered into other strategic alliances with major technology vendors to drive product innovation. Other Cisco technology partners include Apple, Ericsson and IBM.

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