Cisco has paid $31m to boost its Unified Comms pitch by sucking up 33 person Orative.
Orative has an on-device client, and associated server, which manages presence information for mobile users, enables instant messaging for call scheduling, as well as integration with company address books. All of which fits well with the Unified Communications platform from Cisco, which provides call management, voicemail, and presence for fixed-line phones and desktop PCs.
Anyone who has used instant messaging for work will know the real value of the technology lies in presence - the ability to instantly see which colleagues are available and to ask politely, without major interruption to their work, if they've got time to chat or meet up.
Extending that presence information to mobile telephony has been tried before, as there is clear value in knowing if someone can take a call before you make it, or if they are able to receive a video call, as well as their general status. The Internet Multimedia Standard (IMS) incorporates just such functionality, but is taking a while to arrive, which opens the opportunity for proprietary solutions such as that developed by Orative.
The Orative client runs on Symbian S60 handsets, with a Blackberry version available and one for BREW handsets under development.
This is exactly the kind of functionality that open phone platforms such as Symbian are intended to foster, and seems a wise move for Cisco if only to prevent competitive presence systems sneaking in to companies on mobile telephones.
The 33 employees at Orative will be absorbed into Cisco's Voice Technology group - presumably after they've sobered up. ®