Cisco asks developers to help beef up Spark collaboration capabilities


Cisco is looking for third parties to add to its Spark collaboration tool's capabilities. The vendor just invested $150 million in Cisco Spark for Developers to provide greater support to developers and also initiate some joint development projects around the cloud-based collaboration offering.

Cisco unveiled Spark last year as its answer to Skype for Business, Unify and Slack. As it launched its developer program, Cisco also announced general availability of the product, which features three core collaboration and communication features -- message, meeting and call.

Additionally, Cisco added bots to provide a level of automation and intelligence in responding to requests sent through Spark. The company's press release indicated the first bots are now live, but it's also only the beginning of Cisco's work in creating Spark bots. It's also safe to assume developers will further that work by creating bots of their own.

"Imagine that a plant manager is in an airport on the way to a conference when his production line goes down. In manufacturing, time is money – the on-site team needs to be able to quickly and securely reach out to him, get him reports and photos and escalate to a video call to show the problem and agree upon the fix," said Rowan Trollope, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Collaboration, Data Analytics and IoT groups, in a statement. "This is the kind of collaboration Cisco Spark makes possible. Simple to use and custom-built for developers with enterprise security and manageability, we truly believe it will change everything."

Cisco Spark, developed under the name Project Squared, provides not only messaging and collaboration tools, but also voice and video capabilities. Cisco beefed up Spark's capabilities in December in what appeared to be an attempt to offer more features than Slack, which has more than 1 million users.

There are a growing number of team collaboration tools in the market, so there's an increasing number of choices. Slack and HipChat are two of the biggest ones, but Cisco and newcomer Bolste are also hoping to make waves and capture market share.

For more:
- read the press release

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Cisco sets sights on Slack as it beefs up voice and video capabilities of Spark
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