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Research Details

Cisco's Cius: A(nother) Device Suffering from an Identity Crisis

Published On: 5/9/2011
Analyst Name: John Brand
Geography: Asia/Pacific,Global
Technology: General IT Market

Cisco’s proactive attempt at ‘fortifying’ tablet devices for enterprise use is well intentioned. However, Cisco’s Cius initiative suffers from a lack of recognition about the power of end-user choice and device preferences. Springboard Research believes the Cius is best positioned as a consumer device with enterprise support capabilities, rather than an enterprise device with consumer appeal. Regardless, Cius will only likely appear attractive to those few organisations who still view “clean” networks as not only desirable, but possible. We believe the days of controlling the physical device and the entire access path are long gone. The power of networks is now about connecting content and people, irrespective of the physical wired (or wireless) connection. However, Cius does have an opportunity to succeed if the benefits to enterprises are considered as valuable by-products, rather than as a direct selling proposition.

Cisco’s current position is that Cius is a “purpose-built, mobile collaboration business tablet”. Springboard Research believes that the Cius device will only be attractive (and successful) if targeted as a consumer device with enterprise support capabilities. It will not be attractive as an enterprise technology with consumer-friendly functionality.

Our research shows that end-users are increasingly adopting a BYOC (bring your own computer) strategy whether the organisation formally supports it or not.

As an Android based device, the Cius (on the face of it) provides usability and flexibility benefits that consumers now demand from their own personal devices. However, we believe end-users are unlikely to adopt any device based on the organisations stated support policies. Any perceived alignment to an organisations “dictum” is likely to generate a level of contempt and/or resistance. Though there are some exceptions to this (e.g., enterprise supplied devices in healthcare, transportation, field sales and support etc), the vast majority of organisations are witnessing strong preferences from users for using their own devices.

We believe, to be successful, the Cisco Cius device must be:

  • Promoted as a “cool” consumer targeted technology;
  • Encouraged within the enterprise as a “recommended” product, but not heavily promoted as such;
  • Provide an extremely simple enablement mechanism for the enterprise “fortification” capabilities;
  • Not dependent on any other specific Cisco (or other proprietary) technology to function for personal use;
  • Enable isolation of the business work environment from the personal workspace through desktop virtualisation or other similar “container” based technology (where required/desired – recognising that offline access is still a common requirement);
  • Not limit the personal devices usage with business-oriented management/security policies;
  • Enable easy “mode switching” for full screen personal workspace to business workspace (and vice versa) where required/desired;
  • Provide seamless synchronisation and replication of selected data between business and personal workspaces (where desired/required) without any/limited user intervention;
  • Seamless overlaying of calendaring data between personal and business environments (while maintaining security and isolation between them).

Though the inclusion of a forward facing video camera as a key differentiator for mobile video conferencing is one of Cisco’s core value propositions for Cius, we believe video is unlikely to be the primary driver or motivator for adoption in the majority of use cases. In fact, we believe the focus on video data transport as part of Cisco’s messaging overall is somewhat moot.

Beyond device independence, users now expect network independence. That is, they expect that the same access to corporate information and applications regardless of network type, performance and reliability service levels or any hygiene standards applied.

In this respect, solutions which focus on securing data – at the data level – rather than securing devices and networks, will likely be more successful. As mobility reaches beyond controlling access to physical networks and devices, the value to end-users becomes exponential.

Springboard Research believes Cius is an admirable attempt at addressing BYOC trends with the enterprise desire for control and the application of “manageable” standards. However, we also believe that organisations should focus much more heavily on providing secure information access and delivery, regardless of location, device, network, server or technology vendor.

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