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Cisco is encouraging developers to innovate on the web conferencing platform Webex Meetings as third-party integrations become an increasingly crucial differentiator in the market for collaboration software.
The vendor has added a new Webex Meetings page to its website for developers. The page includes tutorials, sample source codes and a full catalog of API reference documents. Those resources will help developers customize how their organization manages users and data through Webex.
Cisco also hosts a cloud-based "sandbox" where developers can design and test Webex integrations and offers one-on-one support to members of its developer program, Cisco DevNet. More than 500,000 developers have registered for the program, but many are focused on networking rather than collaboration.
Cisco is in the midst of an overhaul of its collaboration portfolio that includes the merging of its team collaboration app, formerly known as Cisco Spark, with the online meetings platform Cisco Webex, which has more than 135 million users.
Beyond rebranding the two platforms -- as Webex Teams and Webex Meetings -- Cisco has also refreshed their user interfaces and combined them onto the same back-end infrastructure.
In addition to the revamped DevNet page, Cisco is also highlighting its Android SDK for Webex Teams, the product of a new partnership with Google. The tool will help developers add the messaging and meetings features of Webex Teams to Android devices.
Webex integrations increase business value of the platform
Vendors rely on an ecosystem of partners to improve their platforms by developing value-added integrations with other apps. For example, Google recently added several Webex integrations to Google Calendar, making it easier for G Suite users to schedule and join Webex meetings.
Integrations expand the possible use cases of a platform, making it more valuable to businesses, said Alan Lepofsky, a principal analyst at Constellation Research Inc., based in Cupertino, Calif.
"In the highly competitive collaboration market, vendors such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Cisco, Salesforce and Slack are all competing for developer mindshare," Lepofsky said. "They try and entice partners to develop new features and third-party integrations by offering both financial and marketing incentives."
In the team collaboration market, Slack has been particularly successful at curating an ecosystem of developers. Open APIs helped the startup challenge established vendors like Cisco and Microsoft and inspired many vendors to embrace a similar approach. (This week, Slack said it was valued at $7.1 billion, up from $5.1 billion less than one year ago.)
Even Microsoft has taken steps to open its historically closed system as it attempts to boost adoption of Microsoft Teams, the cloud-based successor to Skype for Business. This spring, for example, the vendor released a new line-of-business app store for Teams, where organizations can upload custom integrations.
Cisco has also given customers tools to customize their use of Webex Teams. But the app stores of both Microsoft and Cisco still trail Slack's directory, which contains more than 1,500 prebuilt integrations with third-party business apps.