The Network here. So what can you find there? At first blush it looks like many other Web-news portals, with a set of top stories from major tech freelancers such as Steve Wildstrom (formerly of Business Week) who has written an interview with Internet luminary Vint Cerf and another story on big data; Elizabeth Corcoran, the former Valley Forbes bureau chief, and John Dodge, someone like myself that got their start in tech journalism back at PC Week in the 1980s.Cisco long has had its own exemplary in-house news site called @News. Last month they upgraded and are now rebranding it as
What you won't find is much in the way of actual breaking news, unless you are looking for particular Cisco-specific products. Yes, there are links to third-party stories, and some interesting features, too. What is interesting is that all of the top shared posts are video clips. Clicking on the most viewed stories shows that some have gotten 20,000 views or more in the month since the site went live. That's not bad for an in-house portal. Most of these are press releases, which isn't surprising given Cisco's reach and influence in the networking industry. Speaking of reach, Cisco's Facebook page has over 180,000 followers and @ciscosystems Twitter account has more than 82,000 followers.
Like any good modern Web site, readers can easily share content on Twitter and Facebook and embed a widget into their own Web site, as you can see from the screenshot below showing the article layout.
Perhaps this should best be described not as a news site, but as a community portal where customers and competitors can better keep track of what is going on in the markets that Cisco sells into: video conferencing, data center infrastructure, collaboration tools, and key networking technologies. MediaSurvey.com's Sam Whitmore, who tracks these sorts of things, says "Cisco instead invests in its own content because it can own the analytics on it. That gives Cisco the power to iterate what works and dump what doesn't -- just like publishers do." Whitmore is bullish on the new Cisco site: "Engagement is what leads to outcomes. That's Cisco's play."
Here is the blog post that announced the site last month. I think companies that have fewer resources than Cisco might take a moment to look and learn from what they are doing here. Yes, an impressive freelance budget and lineup of industry luminaries is great, and they are off to a good start with the number of comments and views. But the whole place seems somewhat soulless and unexciting. While I am not as sanguine as Whitmore as to whether they will ultimately succeed, they do show what basic elements are needed for corporate sites to be engaging to their audience and is worth spending some time there.